Sunday, March 04, 2007

More Thoughts on the Impending Death of Information Architecture

Where is information architecture going? ...

"How “information architecture” is defined much too broadly, frames design in the wrong way, and suffers from infoprefixation.

One of the more insightful social design books of the last decade is John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid’s The Social Life of Information (ch. 1), in which the authors suggest that we suffer from “tunnel vision” caused by an over-focus on technology. Certainly, the technological explosion of the Web has brought about huge changes, as Brown and Duguid should know: Brown works at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and Duguid works at UC Berkeley, two of the most distinguished technology havens on Earth.

One emergent problem Brown and Duguid describe is called “infoprefixation”, or being over-fixated on information instead of focusing on the people who use it to enrich their lives. Here’s how they explain it:

“…you don’t need to look far these days to find much that is familiar in the world redefined as information. Books are portrayed as information containers, libraries as information warehouses, universities as information providers, and learning as information absorption. Organizations are depicted as information coordinators, meetings as information consolidators, talk as information exchange, markets as information-driven stimulus and response”

This tendency to reframe things in terms of information echoes my frustrations with “information architecture”. Whereas “architecture” started off in the physical world, we now have to imagine (after merely placing “information” in front of it) what it means in the conceptual world. The once solid word “architecture” is now unclear."    (Continued via Bokardo)    [Usability Resources]


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