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In the news: Information Architecture

Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler

You may not realize it, but information architecture is about far more than the web. In this issue of The Rockley Report, we provide you with several resources you may find valuable in your quest to learn more about the discipline of information architecture and how it relates to the management of all types of content, regardless of delivery medium. Check out the online resources, read a book or two, or attend a conference or online event. Whatever you do, learn as much as you can about information architecture-it's an important aspect of content management and should not be overlooked.

What is Information Architecture? What do Information Architects do?

"Today, most information isn't presented in the detailed form of a map to direct and guide us to new lands where we can find a wealth (or a wealth of information). Rather, it's fired at us like buckshot, with the hope that some might hit a target. In response, a group of people is emerging that feels like a life force-an undeniable drive-to make life understandable. They feel compelled to create a new world map with this barrage of data. They are information architects." (Richard Saul Wurman, Information Anxiety 2, 2001, Que Publishing, Indianapolis)

Richard Saul Wurman coined the term "information architecture" back in 1975. In Information Anxiety 2, Wurman writes: "When I came up with the concept and the name information architecture in 1975, I thought everybody would join in and call themselves information architects. But nobody did - until now. Suddenly it's become a ubiquitous term. Of course, as is the case with any ubiquitous label, there are some information architects who legitimately meet the definition of the term, but there are lots who don't."

"Today's information architects," Wurman writes, "must get through to a population that makes choices every day about what to view and what not to view. People are bombarded from all sides by television, print, and online ads. We have newspapers, magazines, journals, newsletters, e-zines, and online news sites where we can tailor our daily dose of news to fit personal interests. Individuals who cross these boundaries (information technology professionals, graphic designers, writers, journalists) have the potential to make good information architects."

So what is an information architect? According to a 1996 article by Wurman published in Information Architecture, an information architect is "the individual who organizes the patterns in data, making the complex clear."

While that sounds simple enough, there is still a lack of clarity surrounding the discipline of information architecture and role of the information architects. We've prepared a list of online resources and books that might help you better understand the world of information architecture.

Online Information Architecture Resources:

The InfoDesign Interview: Richard Saul Wurman, January 2004 - an interview with the father of information architecture

What's in a name? Information Architecture versus Information Design - various views on information architecture from information architecture luminaries

Defining Information Architecture Deliverables by Christina Wodke

Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture (AIFIA)

Introduction to Information Architecture (AIFIA Library)

Books About Information Architecture:

Information Anxiety 2 -- by Richard Saul Wurman (Que Publishing)

Introduction to Information Architecture for the World Wide Web -- a free chapter from the book by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville (O'Reilly Publishers)

Dynamics in Document Design: Creating Text for Readers by Karen A. Schriver (Wiley Publishing)

Information Architecture With XML by Peter Brown (Wiley Publishing)

Information Architecture Events

Sixth Annual International Workshop on Internationalisation of Products and Systems 2004 - July 8-10, 2004, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

WebVisions 2004 - July 16, 2004, Portland, Oregon

Information Architecture for Content Management QuickStart - August 7, 2004, Tampa, Florida

2005 Information Architecture Summit - March 4-7, 2005, Montreal, Quebec

Copyright 2004, The Rockley Group, Inc.