one more time

Tripped over this review of Information Architecture for the Web and this passage reverberated with me “It is […]

Tripped over this review of Information Architecture for the Web and this passage reverberated with me

“It is odd that Rosenfeld and Morville seize the title of architect, because the central claim of the architect’s profession is the very breadth of concern that Information Architecture lacks. Architects have always competed with craftsmen, construction firms, and engineers; what architects offer is an original and coherent vision that inspires and entire Web site or building. Beyond the supervisory power of the job title, Rosenfeld and Morville aren’t very interested in architecture. ”

At the risk of opening up an old can of worms, I have to say that this small passage suggests to me that a slightly broader definition is truer than “Information architecture involves the design of organization and navigation systems to help people find and manage information more successfully.”

What does it take to truly be an architect of information?


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  1. 3

    re FLW – he was a visionary and an experiementer. He was not necessarily a craftsman. His buildings leak because he was constantly pushing the limits of the accepted engineering/building practice of the time and not everything worked so well.

  2. 4

    There is a broad variation of the understanding of the term architect. In Stuart Brand’s sence they are the visual design folks that do not take functionality into account. But this he largely attributes to the I.M. Pei’s of the world.. The Peter and Lou perspective would be the architect you and I would go see to get an addition put on our house. This type of arctitect takes into acount how you would use the space, review the local ordnances, and layout a plan that the crafts people can build upon. This architect may or may not design the exterior or interior facade. If the architect does design elements of the facade that is fine, but it usually is a canvas for an interior designer or the home owner to have their own will to best use the space given the occupants intent for the space.

  3. 5

    For reasons similar to those cited in this article, I’ve wondered if perhaps “information engineer” isn’t a more apt label for the person who practices information architecture.

  4. 7

    To some extent I am liking the information engineer moniker. I think to a some extent of what I do is information engineering, but it is an extension of the information architect foundation. The IA process is based on discovering patterns of language, ideas, cognitive associations with data bits that form information structures in our user’s/audience minds. The IA researches, documents, and forms valid logical structures on which to hang further ideas. These understandings of associative properties of information particles are the basis of the full breadth of IA, which can include the Richard Saul Wurhman extension into visual/graphic explainations of seemingly divergent sets of information, which help to easily explain relationships and causality in the world around us. The IA basis is also the basis for information engineering which needs the basic understandings to build information applications that provide ease of use and movements between associated ideas and patterns. I consider myself an IA because the pattern recognition and understanding of the core information bits are a cornerstone for building sites or applications that are relatively easy to use and easy to maintain. So I do love that which I create and I do walk people through applications with love and passion. I am not into the facade, but an elegant facade may be applied to a well architected site/application. Many IAs will love to show you before and after snapshots of their work.

  5. 9

    These moments of joy come from working with clients and users and identifying problem areas, listening to the “if only I could” wishes, but more importantly have the lattitude to work with the technical teams and disign folks (these may be ourselves) to innovatively come up with solutions for these wishes. I have a couple projects in the past couple years that have inspired me in this way and have offered me the ability to innovate and be proud. I went to a Washington DC, IA (DCIA) meeting that was a show-and-tell for documentation. There was some amazing documentation that showed realationships of information as they related to business areas of the cliet’s users, a visualization of 14,000 Web pages for a client to show their managment and stake holders so that the vastness of their impending work had some visual understanding, and others showing before and after affects of their work on the site. These folks were proud of their innovations and they had a right to be proud as their work was fantastic.

  6. 10

    The term Information Engineering is already taken. Further, the use of the term “Engineer” is restricted by law. Financial engineering was a discipline full of practitioners that came from finance and applied mathematics to their discipline. Because they used the term “Engineer,” the practioners are now mathematicians that apply their knowledge to finacial problems–not at all the same thing. Software engineers are facing the same fate. They now must be licensed engineers rather than computer science majors. Forget the term “Information Engineer.”

  7. 13

    (I don’t think one can be right or wrong about the whole naming-of-the-job issue; that wasn’t really the point of my posts.)

  8. 14

    I have to say the naming of the dicipline thing is old and dull– but living up to our name, growing the profession and doing better and better work… that is good stuff.

  9. 15
    Land Architect

    Architect- unlike “Engineer” can not be used by law in any branch of work or industry without the degree. Engineer is also a trade title “Architect” is not a trade title this is why you have the legal title”Professional Engineer” in order to permit the job/plant/Industrial title of engineer to be used….” Architect “as a title is not open to you by law without an architecture degree…The time will come when this will be ended as a method to describe software/hardware business or engineering school degrees applied in indusrty outside the profession of architecture by non-architects…FYI Sorry-Look @ state Law…

  10. 16

    i want to become an information science. Tell me everything that i need to know and what school. I’m very confuse of what direction to take. please help.

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