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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Finds: Information Architecture

Maya, a design consultancy and research lab, posted a great essay, deconstructing the concepts of "information" and "architecture" (with the help of two wonderful videos), and discussing the implications for constructing information architectures that keep the information itself relevant and pliable for future evolution and uses.

They call out the problem with subjugating the information to the delivery format and/or current purpose:
"Often we find that an existing system has been built as a monolithic solution
that jumbles the raw plumbing of the system with the business process and the
user interface. Unfortunately this leads to a brittle solution that can’t evolve
with new user interfaces, new underlying systems, or new business realities."
They advocate for deep analysis of the current (or proposed) system to identify and separate the information from the system and business process, then redesign so the information is independent from the latter two factors, to facilitate its re-purposing over time in meaningful ways.
"When we say Information Architecture (IA) we are really talking about
everything you can define about a solution without specifying the underlying
system (the raw plumbing) or specifying the particular user interface that will
be employed to deliver and manipulate the information. By thinking about the
architecture of how information is used, how it flows, and how it fits within
the user’s world (its context), you can capture the essence of how to build a
system that is not only intuitive but futureproof."
As the worlds of Web 2.0/ social media / communities of practice / wirearchy / open source continue to evolve at an ever-increasing rate, the pressure to separate information from it's delivery form and method will become increasingly crucial to allow for its effective re-purposing, use, as well as its own evolution.

This is a tall order. How do we deliver on it?

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