from the riveting Nathan Shedroff: the v-2 interview (part one of two) and by the way, ED is short for experience design. Cozy little acronym, ain’t it?
“Nathan Shedroff: Well, all of those cultural, psychological, physiological, technical, etc. theories support ED just as well – if not better, in fact – than they do IA/ID. I don’t understand the need to acknowledge them for one and not for another. This is like those IAs who spend so much time splitting all of the responsibilities of information creation into two sets, the set of things they consider nicer, cooler, or more sophisticated, and those they consider basic, dull, or beneath them. Then they label the first IA and walk off laughing with their noses held high and the other set ID.
AG: Sounds to me like when you talk about “noses held high,” you have one or more bad experiences in mind. And I’m not denying that can be important, but aren’t you then simply doing what you accused me of earlier: damning the entire field for the blunders of one or two pompous jerks? Why would I assert that IA is somehow free of such, when anybody who’s read SIGIA knows perfectly well that we have our due ration of bozos?
NS: It’s just that I see it way more than “one or two jerks.” It’s an overall feeling I sense, more often than not, in writings, speeches, and conversations. If it were only a few people I’d just write them off (like certain usability folk). But, in my experience, it’s pervasive.
Maybe I’m just being too sensitive, but things feel a lot different from ten years ago, and not in a good way. Some of the best IAs/IDs I know never participate in the IA/ID community because of the pervasive attitudes and the lack of anything new or interesting going on. I think that the IA/ID community is, mostly, spinning its wheels in terms of growth and development. It isn’t innovating and it is turning more people off than on. Again, my opinion.”
Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone bag that hard on IA– I wonder who has been poisoning his soup. Last I saw Mr. Shedroff, he was cheerfully breaking bread with Lou Rosenfeld… I personally have many reservations about the nascent field of ED but I have yet to take a public stick to the entire group of people who are trying to build it (though Adam’s fearlessness in asking the hard questions is rather enticing… come on in… the water’s bracing!)
Another oddity in the interview is Nathan’s mixing of Information Design and Information Architecture. I really wish Adam had asked Nathan for his definition of IA, just to set a common vocabulary. I’m not sure if Nathan has expanded his definition beyond his former mentor Wurman’s or not…
Finally I just don’t get these particular arguments. Why argue over the same bit of carpet, when there is a whole world to design? IA designs information spaces, ED designing experiences, IA designs for findability, understandability and usability, ED designs for a positive user experience, thus moving beyond information spaces and interactive to include passive and visceral designed environments.
For me, Ed is too big, too undefined to be juicy enough for me– I like to stay more in the realm of the practical than the theoretical. I still do big IA, but it tends to be limited to information spaces– interactive, digital, structural. When I hang with former Argonauts, I’m a generalist. When I chat with the ED crowd, I’m a specialist.
But for other designers, ED is the key and I like watching them go off on their philosophical tangents as they ponder the universe of designed experience like a sophomore art student on his third beer. There is joy there, and it’s all good.