RE: What happened to information architecture and design

Subject: RE: What happened to information architecture and design
From: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "Jonathan Baker" <jbaker2525 -at- gmail -dot- com>, Lin Sims <ljsims -dot- ml -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2016 20:19:06 +0000

That's one explanation.

Another could be that this field migrated into UX.

There wasn't much of a UX field, at least formally (UX programs and such at universities), before 2000, if I recall. It really burgeoned as a field in the early 2000's.

But I get a different vibe from that field, not one that says, "Oh yes, we've carried the torch of Horn, Wurman, et al."

If I'm not mistaken, though, Wurman is still active -- I've watched some of his lectures from the last couple of years. But there used to be some fantastic videos of conversations with him on YouTube and they took those down -- there was one where he discussed how he came up with the term "information architect" and in what context (Bicentennial AIA meeting in Philadelpha in 1976 -- he was planning it in 1975). I think he said he was looking out over the city from their meeting room high atop a building at that time, and he said that the city itself, observed from that vantage point, contained an incredible amount of information. Something like, "We are architects of information. We are information architects."

Anyway... these are really exciting ideas to me.

And I wouldn't say such ideas have to be "vigorously" pursued. Nor does the money answer explain why the ideas have not continued to be discussed and at least bandied about within the community. It's not like everyone is saying, "Well, I'll never be able to do anything like that -- we don't have the budget -- so I give up even thinking about it."

Steve

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On Tuesday, March 29, 2016 12:52 PM, Jonathan Baker wrote:

There is a simple, crass answer to why Horne et al'sÂvision of handling information hasn't beenÂvigorously pursued - money.

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On Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Janoff, Steven <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com> wrote:
Yes, that was presented in Tufte's book(s).

In the OP I mentioned that Tufte has been pretty well represented.

I was looking for more along the lines of a continuation of the work of Richard Saul Wurman, Robert E. Horn, and others of that ilk.

There's a nice book called "Information Design" edited by Robert Jacobson -- it's a bit dated and somewhat academic, but it seemed to be aiming toward a continuation of that path. I haven't seen much since then that takes up the torch. And I wonder why? These were great ideas.

http://www.amazon.com/Information-Design-Press-Robert-Jacobson/dp/0262600358

Also note that the Minard example is heavily graphics-oriented. (It's a brilliant piece, by the way, I don't doubt that.) Most tech writers don't have that kind of graphic ability. You can work with a graphic artist or tech illustrator to realize your vision, but there are also ways to incorporate fundamental images that don't require an art degree. Although, a real infographics piece generally shows an artist's hand.

Anyway... it continues to baffle me why nothing much is written about this, certainly compared to DITA, single-sourcing, content management, "intelligent content," and the various tools for document production.

I look forward to any really good examples anyone finds (and this Minard one is good, so it's always good to see top-tier examples -- thanks, Lin -- and I like your story at the end too :).

Steve

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On Tuesday, March 29, 2016 12:08 PM, Lin Sims wrote:

Well, there's always the classic example of the march of Napoleon's Grand Army to, and from, Russia. It's by Charles Joseph Minard. Minard really hated Napoleon, so the emperor's name does not appear on the graphic at all.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Minard.png

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On Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 2:44 PM, Janoff, Steven <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com> wrote:
This is provocative information and I hope that line of thought continues.

At the same time, I want to bring back a parallel thread on the purpose of the original post, which was to try to find examples of good or great information design and information architecture in perhaps publicly available tech comms publications (print, web, mobile, etc.).

I'll bet there are a few infographics out there that are extra-special and really encapsulate what fantastic information design/architecture is all about -- I haven't seen them yet. I can find a hundred infographics not a single one of which seems necessary or even helpful.

What is it about good information design or good information architecture that galvanizes you?

To me it's when I see a documentation piece that presents the perfect combination of text and images to immediately convey information and learning to me, especially in a way that not only do I remember it for days or weeks afterward, but it leaves such an impression that I just can't stop thinking about how good it is -- and I might continue to be impressed even years later.

I guess it's about how the brain works and how it perceives, assimilates, and organizes information.

I wish I had an example to link to, of what I'm talking about, but I don't have one handy. I posted one a few years back (map of the Internet) but it looks very uninspiring now, after everything that's flowed through our minds in the past 4 years.

I want to see what's out there that's really good.

Thanks,

Steve

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On Tuesday, March 29, 2016 8:14 AM, Mark Baker wrote:

The concept of semantics has generated endless confusion over the years.
...

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Follow-Ups:

References:
What happened to information architecture and design: From: Janoff, Steven
Re: What happened to information architecture and design: From: th
RE: What happened to information architecture and design: From: mbaker
RE: What happened to information architecture and design: From: Janoff, Steven
Re: What happened to information architecture and design: From: Lin Sims
RE: What happened to information architecture and design: From: Janoff, Steven
Re: What happened to information architecture and design: From: Jonathan Baker

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