Richard Saul Wurman at BIF-4

Also, please don’t miss Walt Mossbeg’s interview with RSW

10. October 2009 by dan
Categories: Information Architecture Design | Tags: | Leave a comment

Wurmanisms from DRC 09

Former student of mine has a great write-up of her experience attending the Design Research Conference. She includes some classic quotes from Richard online pokie machines Saul Wurman – go to her blog and read them.

Update: Katie McCurdy follows up with audio from RSW”s talk:

@danklyn thanks! just added RSW talk audio to the blog – you should definitely listen. direct link to the file:

09. October 2009 by dan
Categories: Information Architecture Design | Tags: , , , | 1 comment

The Problem With Famous Architects

Since this is my own private soapbox, I”m going to feel free to make a sweeping and weakly substantiated observation. Which is this: I think there”s maybe starrrrting to be an uptick of interest in architecture from within the IA community. The fact that I”m an information architect who”s been hyperfocused on architecture for the past year or so probably has a lot to do with my observation. And yes, there”s the nomination and election of classically-trained architect and amazingly awesome guy Andrea Resmini to the IA Institute Board which happened on the 15th. But the reason I”m writing about it right now is because yesterday I saw that Christina Wodtke”s talk at IDEA 09 earlier this week was titled Lessons From Radical Architects. From the looks of it with the slides she posted to Slideshare, she gave an awesome talk and made some fresh and ponderous observations about what these radical architects did and how we can learn from “em.

Let Us Now Praise Famous (Wo)Men

I”ll admit it – I get a little swoony around internet-famous people. Every once and a while I”ll get retweeted by somebody internet famous and I interpret this as a sign that this person also read my blog and looked at my Facebook and as a result has tacitly affirmed and agreed with all the stuff I do and say on the Internets. So you can imagine the joy I experienced when Ms. Wodtke tweeted something approving about my Now That I See It bookproject when I was pimping it on the Twitter several months ago. She”s a leader in the IA community and I love the idea of being noted by and aligned with such a person. I”m saying all this because I want to make sure that what I”m about to say doesn”t come across as being disrespectful. So with alllll that being said, here”s the thing: I have a problem with famous architects. And even while I admire them, and study their work, and learn alot from them, their practice and experience is only useful to the rest of us up to a point. But maybe no further than that point. Because famous architects get pandered to by their clients and co-workers. Their work isn”t scrutinized in the same ways that an unknown or garden-variety architect”s work is scrutinized. So looking to how they”re doing and talking about the practice of architecture … when we look to them, and learn from them, do we need to be selective with what we”re borrowing and internalizing? Case in point: Christina noted in her talk that Frank Lloyd Wright”s “Usonian” houses sometimes didn”t include closets. And that perhaps sometimes in our designs we could or should or might choose beauty over usability, just like FLW. Usonian or not, these homes were dwellings for people who wear clothes, right? I contend that if you or I were the architect, we”d have been required to include the closets.

So… when we”re tuning our practice with new tactics and approaches, and when we”re convening within our organizations, maybe we should be looking more or even first to our peers for advice and inspiration. The people who work on the sites and products we”ve never heard of. When Jesse James Garrett did his rant at IAS09 last spring, he posed some pointed and incredibly important questions about famous information architects. He noted that while many of us can rattle-off a list of famous IA”s, few of us could point to or name examples of these peoples” work. That”s one crucial difference between famous architects and famous information architects.

Regular-old Architects

But don”t get me wrong – I”m all about borrowing from and being inspired by all kinds of architecture and architects in the work we do as information architects. The other day I tweeted something that I believe is worth noting:

An unfathomable ocean of ideas, tactics and know-how from the world of architecture has been hiding from information architects in plain sight – due perhaps to the then-largely-inapropriate use of the A-word by the cybrarian taxonomists of web 1.0

On Monday I”m teaching a class about how the librarianship-flavored Polar Bear paradigm for and the very idea of “information architecture” became the foundational metaphor for the early, up-front organizational and structural work of web design. Those pioneering librarians and information scientists approached the early web as librarians … but they called what they were doing “architecture.” In their writings and in their practice they would perhaps make an occasional broad gesture toward concepts from architecture. And occasionally, a specific borrowing from famous and controversial architects like Stewart Brand or Christopher Alexander. But the nitty-gritty of architecture … the nomenclature of everyday architecture … concepts like parti and program … when information architecture was becoming the foundational metaphor for the structuring and organizing of information spaces and websites, none of the foundational elements of architecture were included in the mix! Somebody, possibly me, might do a modest service to the IA community by doing some work with and talking about regular old architects. And regular-old architecture.

18. September 2009 by dan
Categories: Duh About Architecture, Information Architecture Design, Regular Old Architecture | Tags: , , | 11 comments

Kai Turner on The Future Of Information Architecture

I’m still working my way through Mr. Turner’s broadside on the future of IA, which presents some very well-crafted observations about the obsolescence of the standard compliment of IA / HCI tools and approaches (wireframes, personas etc.) for a web that’s about to increment its version number upward any moment now… And what I’ve read so-far seems pertinent to the work I’ve begun on my book.

I was curious to see Mr. Turner invoking our regular-old-architect friend Christopher Alexander and Alexander’s Pattern Language early on in the article, only to say the following several paragraphs later with regards to the coming convergence of yesterday’s 2-D web with geo-tagging in meatspace to form an “internet of things”

we will need a new language and set of tools to model environmental interactive behaviours

It may be true that we will need a different language and set of tools to better design for and understand an Internet of Things … but I’m not convinced that what we need is new. I suspect that the tools and vocabulary we currently lack – the tools and practices and processes that will better ensure the success of our designs both with our clients and with their constituents – are to be found in the missing mappings between regular-old architecture and the work we do on the web as information architects.

Just sayin’, not sprayin’

26. January 2009 by dan
Categories: Book In Progress, Information Architecture Design, Regular Old Architecture, User Experience Design | Tags: , , , , | 1 comment

Nothing Is Higher Than Architect II

Obama wanted to be an architect back in the day… before he pursued “plan B” of becoming the president of ?????? ????????? the United States

19. January 2009 by dan
Categories: Regular Old Architecture | Tags: | Leave a comment

"Nothing Is Higher Than Architect"

Well, isn’t an architect just an art school online pokie machines drop-out with a tilty desk, and a big ruler?

via Arch Daily

15. January 2009 by dan
Categories: Regular Old Architecture | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Film As A Superior Medium For Engagement With Architecture Design?

This fantastic scholarly paper by Schawn Jasmann on The Info Tech Revolution In Architecture deftly juggles so many of the quasi-douchebag critical theory notions that are important to the research I’m doing for my book project… Here he is talking about some of the post-Char Davies possibilities for rendering architecture designs as multi-sensory synesthetic experiences:

Using the film as an exemplar, one could illustrate a further line of inquiry into the language/experience relation. This relation is frequently a source of tension within designers’ understandings and definitions of the manufacture of architecture today. However, the film as a cinematic experience is referred to not so much to illustrate that the experience of silently watching is superior to a linguistically-based interpretive moment. Rather, the film itself contains revelatory material that recruits both the viewer’s sensorial and linguistic modes of reception. Hence, the film is a dialogue of sorts between its own ideas (rendered as a set of fluid narrative encounters) and its own experientially-derived moments. That is, the moments that show viewers properties of the flesh-world, of architectural properties such as form, space, and light, and the transformation between these as a parallel to our own linguistic-experience dialogic encounter with the world of things.

14. January 2009 by dan
Categories: Book In Progress, Regular Old Architecture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frascari on Analytique

It is important to notice that the analytique as graphic analysis of details had its development in a period when architects did not have to prepare working drawings showing the construction of the details. The drawings carried few if any details and dimensions

Sourced from web pages created by R. Mellin, McGill University

13. January 2009 by dan
Categories: Book In Progress, Duh About Architecture, Regular Old Architecture | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Important Meme From Frascari’s The Tell-The-Tale Detail

The role of detail as a minimal unit in the process of signifcation

PDF of article

13. January 2009 by dan
Categories: Information Architecture Design | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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