From: Smokey Lynne L Bare <slbare -at- JUNO -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 13 May 1998 19:56:42 -0400


Generally, there is a difference between an information
developer/architect vs a tech writer. This term/s was developed several
years ago to complement a type of 'big picture' documentation forecast
methodology. Development teams (whether it be manuf., industry, or soft
business) needed information to be structured to complement requirements,
and type of methods for delivery (HTML, XTL, SGML, Intranet, Storefronts,
and so on).

An information developer would usually architect the process/es of
delivery, as well as the packaging. More often than not, they do not
write the text or do the text layout conceptualization. They do meet
with tech writers (the SMEs in this case), provide the guidelines, and
explain the cross-impacts when change management issues occur.

Architects are more involved with the needs analysis end (storyboarding
usability processes), and work very closely with the tech writers (who
are again SMEs in this case), and who provide the product (the end
result of the storyboarding processes). Both the information developer
and information architect deal with management level business
compliancies, and forecasting needs changes for the product (tech
writers' produced items).

In smaller companies, one can find info dev./arch. doubling as project
managers, and many have migrated from writer roles up through corporate
management training and business methodology development. These info
specialists deal primarily with the 'bigger' picture of cross-impact
ownership and system-related issues. One can find these job roles in
corporations, which are 'externally' audited, and ISO
compliant/Registered. QA commands this type of accountability, which
covers a broad range vs a focused, expertise level of writing and
documentation processes. Hope this helps shed a little light on the

I have been an information architect for over 7 years, and usually report
to a VP or CIO or MIS director, when publications/documentation areas are
designed. My roles primarily have been to protect the tech writers/DTPs
from getting blindsided on a variety of issues, because the management
team did not own up to accountability (on the management side). Based on
the ol' premise of "...what if, ....then...," I architect out processes
to allow TCs the fullest range of job-related skill sets. This also puts
accountability on both sides. TCs have been messengers many times and
gotten beaten up for information which was NOT communicated to them in a
timely fashion (sound familiar). This architecture procedure prevents
this from happening and assigns 'ownership' to the correct business
group, or line-of-business area. IAs are there to complement both groups
in an ongoing, business design scenario.

Smokey Lynne Bare, C.T.C.
Information Architect

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