Monday, November 08, 2004

AIfIA should guard the inner corners of the T

Okay, now that I have my T-model of IA and UX out, I can dig into what Eric and I were really talking about: Where AIfIA fits in all this.

AIfIA states on its website that it aims to reach the following groups:

  • Designers and technologists who practice information architecture
  • Colleagues in the design and technology fields
  • Businesses, government, and organizations that need information architecture
  • Media

In my opinion, that means AIfIA should guard the "inner corners" of the T-model.
Highlighting the inner corners of the T-model
First of all, it is in those corners where the distinction between IA and, let's say, interaction design or usability is made; on the vertical axis between the IA column and the columns of other fields. There it is all about differentiation.

Second, it's where unification must occor. On the horizontal axis, AIfIA should stress that there is indeed an overlap between what some IA's do and what some interaction designers and usability experts do. We are all part of the UX umbrella.

Let's see if AIfIA is guarding the corners:

  1. Q: Is there a razor-sharp definition of IA on the website?
    A: No, the current definition is inherently ambiguous on purpose.

    I think this should change. How? By accepting a better definition, for example this one, by Tony Byrne:
    Information Architecture (IA) is commonly understood to be the art and science of structuring, organizing, and labeling information so that content owners can better manage it and users can find what they're looking for more effectively. IA can be bottom-up (i.e. analyzing and labeling content chunks) or top-down (i.e developing standardized categorization schemes or taxonomies).

    (taken from his article Enterprise Information Architecture: Don’t Do ECM Without It)

  2. Q: Is there active participation in umbrella discussions?
    A: Yes, AIfIA was present at the very first meeting of this kind.

    Let's hope the newly elected board keeps this "tradition" up, and even initiates new meetings and discussions. It is part of their border-patrol duty!


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