Wednesday, March 17, 2004
This portrait of my friend Thom Haller is my favorite of the photos I took at the recent Information Architecture Summit. If you weren't able to attend, the conference site offers a fairly complete archive of the talk handouts and presentations.
Sunday, February 01, 2004
Set for the Information Architecture Summit
I was on the fence for the last couple weeks about going to the 2004 Information Architecture Summit out of concern for the new infant at home and projects perking up at AARP. But things are really going well on both the home and work fronts, so I completed conference registration and travel arrangements for the summit this weekend. The summit is in Austin, Texas this year February 27-29. I arrive in Austin that Friday night and will stay until Sunday evening. Amy opted to stay home with the baby. They are taking their own trip the weekend before to visit her folks on their vacation in
Savannah, Georgia Hilton Head, South Carolina. Our dog makes out well on this schedule as she won't have to be boarded.
This year's summit theme, "Breaking New Ground" focuses on two domainsstrengthening the foundation of the discipline, and widening the scope of IA practice. Supporting the theme, two team members from AARP's Web Strategy and Operations group, where I'm currently the design and production manager, are presenting. Jessica Moore, our in-house IA and Art Director, and Joseph Matthews, Senior Web Developer, will present The Blind Leading the Blind: Theorizing a Web for the Visually Impaired. They infuse into their presentation experience gained from participating in the development and maintenance of the AARP.org web site, which averages 2 million unique visits per month.
As you might imagine, I'll be acting as an unofficial conference photographer again, so look for the asian with the ponytail flitting about with his digital camera. I'm looking forward to seeing many old friends, and making new acquaintances.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
The Architect speaks
Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden assiduously avoided, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. Which has led you, inexorably, here.
Words I'd like to use one day spoken by The [Information] Architect in The Matrix Reloaded.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Patterns help introduce patterns (or any new idea)
Through the 1990s, a new movement in software development called patterns gained momentum. Inspired by the thinking of the building architect Christopher Alexander, a group of smart guys authored 23 patterns for software design as "a way to analyze solutions to recurring problems, make them reusable and communicate them." Patterns collected together form a working language that help systems architects and programmers cope with the complexity of software systems.
Over the weekend, while revisiting some citations on patterns, I landed on Mary Lynn Manns' and Linda Rising's Introducing New Ideas into Organizations, which is a web page of papers and resources on the patterns of practice they and many others used over several years to introduce the concept of patterns for software design in organizations. As you might imagine, any radically new way of thinking is a tough sell, and their collection of patterns (123 page PDF) for introducing patterns is really a comprehensive cookbook of tactics that can be used to sell any new technology-related ideas in an organization.
Reading through some of the patterns, I recognized many of the tricks I've stumbled upon over the last few years to sell information architecture, usability, accessibility, and user-centered design to my employers and their clients. Some example patterns for introducing new ideas:
- Adopt a Skeptic - Pair those who have accepted your new idea with those who have not.
- Big Jolt - To provide more visibility for the change effort, invite a well-known person to do a presentation about the new idea.
- Corridor Politics - Informally work on decision makers and key influencers before an important vote, to make sure they fully understand the consequences of the decision.
- Group Identity - Give the change effort an identity to help people recognize that it exists.
- Hometown Story - To help people see the usefulness of your new idea, encourage those who have had success with it to share their stories.
- In Your Space - Keep the new idea visible by placing reminders throughout your organization.
- Just Say Thanks - To make people feel appreciated, say "thanks" in the most sincere way you can to everyone who helps you.
- Personal Touch - To convince people of the value of your new idea, show how it can be personally useful and valuable to them.
- Shoulder to Cry On - To avoid becoming too discouraged when the going gets tough, find opportunities to talk with others who are also struggling.
- Whisper in the General's Ear - Managers are sometimes hard to convince in a group setting, so set up a short one-on-one meeting to address their concerns and to offer them the opportunity to announce your new idea as their own.
Each pattern is explained in detail, related to key roles and illustrated with a real world scenario. The patterns collection has also been expanded to book form and is scheduled to be published next year by Addison Wesley. I'm saving a space on my nightstand.
Sunday, August 10, 2003
The many facets of Tanya
Tanya's second fan here to trumpet her implementation of faceted classification in MovableType for her blog. Somewhere, Ranganathan is smiling.
I look forward to the possibility that facets will come to TypePad.