So, I spurred something of a shitstorm in my post where I commented on information architecture is sleeping. Most people focused on the wrong thing, the cancellation of a workshop, when what I was hoping to expose was the tendency towards isolation and insularity that the community seemed to be falling into.
So, I’ve now returned from the 8th IA Summit, and I’m thinking of revising my statement. While the content was mostly blah (though with a few delightfully notable sessions), the conversations I had definitely demonstrated a profession evolving. The curious thing is — it’s not clear what it is evolving into. Unlike every past event, no strong themes emerged. The closest we got was something to do with “rich internet applications,” but even that was pretty weak. Content (and hallway discussions) were all over the map — interaction design, mobile, engaging with business, second life, managing teams, etc. etc.
It made me realize that the profession is in a period of uncertainty. I wish I had attended Andrew Hinton’s highly-lauded talk, because from what I heard, he addressed this a bit.
Two of the thoughts that occurred to me about IA:
– I think I can say without much hubris that I’ve had a hand in establishing the field of information architecture. But, in discussion with Jon Littell and Jennifer Bohmbach, I realized that I found myself in that role not because of a passion for IA _per se_, but for a tendency to go after the interesting unsolved problems and take a whack at them. What this means is that I won’t be in any profession for very long. Once something begins to settle, I become restless, trying to figure out how to engage some new problem that I find critical. So, in the last few years, I’ve drifted away from things like IA and interaction design, and more towards helping organizations understand the great value of taking an experiential approach to delivering their products and services.
– My ONE BIG CONCERN is how, at this Summit, I saw no examples of interesting work built on IA principles. The presentations are all very process and framework oriented. Can you imagine going to a graphic design conference and not seeing books, posters, collateral? Or to an architecture conference, and there are no pictures or models of buildings? I’m afraid the field won’t be able to move forward until we are able to share the outcomes of where all this process and framework thinking lead to.