The iceberg diagram

Peter Morville's iceberg diagram -- a model for IA -- on Peterme.

Right column is going away

Some changes.

I have been a little annoyed with how long it takes for the right column to build -- it requires a hit to the DB each time. I surfaced the pings and news feeds in that column because I look at them a lot and wanted people to be able to find them. But, now since you know where they are -- they're aptly labeled Pings and News Feeds in global nav -- you can always find them up there. You can get those blocks (news feeds, pings, subjects) back on the front page in the left if you change your customization options.

B&N browser: Browsing book facets

I blogged the newish B&N book browser earlier today. Can't remember what I said about it. Mainly that it reminds me of Flamenco and FacetMap, I think. Perhaps I said something about facet classification being surfaced on the UIs of big ecommerce sites or some stuff.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

The W3C has just released draft version 2.0 of their Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Thanks, Column Two: KM/CM blog

Holy humongous tab

Sweet, Jesus. What's with that enormous Amazon tab?

Matt H. pointed this out

The Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture

After about 7 1/2 months in the making, the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture offcially launches today. The AIfIA was formed as a non-profit organization with the goals of advancing and promoting information architecture. For more information on why the AIfIA was started and what the AIfIA will be doing, please check out the site or view the press release. Lou gives a little background on the name:

    Asilomar is a conference center near Monterey, California; an incredibly stunning (and reasonably priced) place for a weekend retreat to hash over what it means for information architects to organize. And yes, we're calling it an institute rather than a society or association; "institute" seems to carry less baggage.
The phrase "asilo mar" also means something like "refuge by the sea" in Spanish. The conference center was orginally formed as a women's retreat center in a peaceful spot on the Pacific coast -- a place to take refuge by the sea. As we went over the details about why we need to organize our efforts to bring awareness to the value of IA and to promote IA for practitioners, it became obvious that the venue for our first discussions in Asilomar was appropriate. IA offers refuge from the sea of information chaos to bring order and balance, to promote sense making and information use. If you believe this to be true and are interested in getting on board, please get involved if you can.

Context-Aware Computing: The Return of Ranganathan?

Peterme, musing on how we'll make sense of information offered in context-aware mobile devices, discusses facet-based description as a solution. I logged some thoughts of my own on his site because he makes sense to me.

    Our devices will know where we are, and be able to augment our experience in that area in various ways--the ability to write and read notes that others have placed; read the history of the spot you're standing on; find out about any activities of interest occurring nearby, etc. etc. ... I can pretty much guarantee that frustration will be the norm if we develop context-aware computing in the same fashion as we have most of our information-rich internet technologies.
I'm glad there's a Peterme RSS feed now. It's aggregated here. Now we just need a blackbeltjones feed.

Open Source Software and Libraries Bibliography

Interesting to me and maybe to other library types who read this.

    This bibliography has been compiled by Brenda Chawner, School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, as part of her Ph.D. studies. This is the first version, and it includes announcements, journal articles, and web documents that are about open source software development in libraries. It also includes articles that describe specific open source applications used in libraries.
Content, KM tools collaborate

Article in InfoWorld about vendor efforts to capture content at point of creation.

    In an effort to strengthen control over collaborative content inside enterprises, content and knowledge management tools are fortifying integration with e-mail and business applications to capture content at its point of creation.
Map of 12,647 WiFi access points in Manhattan

Julian found this info graphic showing 12,647 WiFi access points in Manhattan. The data was compiled by wardriving every street! Pretty cool. Indicates access points with red dots. Occurence of access points is dense where you might expect -- commercial areas and middle to high income residential areas.

Note that this includes private, secured, private unsecured, commercial open and public open points. It was compiled by the Public Internet Project. Also cool is the WiFi access finder on nycwireless.

Controlled Vocabularies in the Trenches

Victor jots down some thoughts about creating controlled vocabularies within the context of the design of a project he's working on. He discusses some real considerations and dependencies related to the development of a controlled vocabulary and implications for systems design. Here's some of my own thoughts/reactions, based on experience.

I've watched the controlled vocabularies of subject headings and company information grow within my organization (a corporate library services org.) over the last four years. The approach we've taken is sort of like a web services model or much like a vendor service, such as those where data aggregators provide indexed content with their own proprietary controlled vocabulary (e.g. Factiva). This seems to me to be a good model because it centralizes semantic tagging and creation of indexing terms in one place, while enterprise use at different levels of granularity. When following this model, you're still confronted with the issues of knowledge representation when developing your terminology, but the system considerations are separated. The design of IR systems using indexes benefit from documenting scope, domain, documentary units, indexable matter, etc. prior to implementation. I have this great unpublished text by Jim Anderson that serves as a framework for such documentation.

Here's a short description of our approach, which has been top down and bottom up. Our people created our CVs starting with close relationships with business units to develop a set of subject headings and a company authority list. They iterated through these lists using the top down approach, informing the list with their subject area expertise. Then they take the bottom-up approach and add/modify terms that reflect subject headings identified while doing the daily work of indexing (knowledge representation). For my org., this is a daily process since a team of indexers sifts through machine filtered data and applies more granular indexing or alters machine-applied terms. As the telecom landscape changes or as our indexing needs require, terms are added to the vocab's. We have one person who manages/develops them, and a few additonal subject area experts who work on development of new terms in new subject areas. User feedback informs changes along the way. The controlled vocabularies are offered up for use by disparate systems within our company to represent that corpus of indexed data, or slices of it, as desired.

As an IA, I generally work with our taxonomy specialists to create page inventories -- sort of like microscopic content inventories on steroids -- that specify combinations of index terms used to build content modules. As an example, I show a small piece of one of these inventories on my old and dated portfolio. This use of the term content inventory is not typical in our field, I know. What this really is, is a design document showing such things as rubrics of content modules with their associated labels, and database searches that use terms from a controlled vocabulary. Maybe I should present something on this process some day. It's really a hybrid IA and technical document, but it's a format my entire team uses on all data-dense sections of our site.

Incidentally, the taxonomy guys I'm talking about are presenting on this topic at an ARK seminar in NYC in November in case you're interested. They're really smart. Hopefully they will get to network a bit at this thing, because everyone in our group could get pink slips if the cost-cutting winds decide to blow in our direction.

Wireframing on Clickz

Bryan Eisenberg (of FutureNow and GrokDotCom) has a good article in today's edition of ClickZ called Framing the Problem. It's a good, simple introduction to the “why wireframe?” question, and considering ClickZ's audience (marketers, advertisers), it's good to see IA mentioned there, though not explicitly.

At the end, Bryan adds in an Einstein quote (“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.”), which reminded me a lot of a similar discussion of wireframes and other deliverables — John Zapolski's Zen and the Art of Deliverables (PDF) presentation at the 2002 IA Summit. To paraphrase John's comments, if someone asks you how long it takes to make a sitemap, tell them it takes five days, even if actually takes two hours. The four and a half days you spend thinking about the information architecture problems make it possible for you to create the sitemap in two hours.


I tried Googlism, thanks to Matt Jones.

Definitely no trolls found on iaslash, though maybe there should be? Is there a troll holiday. That would be a nice decoration to get in me in touch with troll lovers who read this blog.


I agree with Christina. MyWay's design rips off Yahoo! very closely. It looks like some strange Yahoo!/Google mutation. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to demo the hell out of it. Maybe I'll sign up for email there so i can spread around my Spam filled inboxes across different servers.

IA book bonanza

Well, I thought, why not just list all three of these great IA books. Christina and Jesse currently hold the spotlight. And as Jeff points out, the polar bear is still relatively new. Seeing these great recent publications in one place just underscores for me the growth of this craft.

Christina's book
[Buy it] [Read about it]

Jesse's book
[Buy it] [Read about it]

Peter's and Lou's
[Buy it] [Read about it]

P.S. My copy of Blueprints arrived today and I'm itching to start reading it. Looks excellent. I'm going to enjoy it thoroughly. :) Have a lookie at the persona collage in Christina's book. I'm the one above Madonnalisa with the glasses!

Knowledge work as craft work

I just got around to reading Jim McGee's article "Knowledge work as craft work" which is an excellent discussion of visibility in the knowledge management process. McGee gives a great example of how visibility of knowledge has gone away since the arrival of desktop computing. In the pre-PC age, paper documents and deliverables (and the knowledge embedded within them) were passed between many people within an organization in the iterative process of knowledge conception/production. With computers, often the traces of this process are lost -- note taking and modification, for example. Because KM is concerned with the dynamic processes of knowledge creation, communication/transfer, and storage, this visibility is essential. He argues that the use of blogs/klogs in this process helps bring back some of that visibility, but the focus he says has to remain with this dynamic process.

I don't doubt that this fundamental aspect of visibility is really lost in most enterprises. Version control and sophisticated KM solutions that capture annotations and recording of other ephemera support the capture of aspects of the knowledge management process, but I'll bet that technology becomes a barrier for most people when it comes to capturing ephemera. The issue of visibility is very interesting to me as an information professional and must have some implications in doing IA, although I haven't quite made the right connections yet. [Damn you, synapses. Fire already!] I'm going to have to read The Social Life of Paper again.

Important Works for Web Navigation

Chad and Tanya pointed to Important Works for Web Navigation, David Danielson's annotated bibliography of essential, foundational literature for the study of web navigation. Danielson has published some other HCI work related to web navigation behavior and design completed during his Masters program at Stanford.

Measuring the Return on Knowledge Management

Andrew brought to my attention the LLRX article by Kingsley Martin, Justifying knowledge management ROI in law firms. James says on Column Two, that it's a "comprehensive article on measuring the return on KM" and is "serves as a model for other industries".

I gotta start paying closer attention to what appears in the news feeds. Marking this one for later reading.

Story Telling

The CDS looks very interesting. The organization is concerned with using digital media to enable people to tell their stories. They provide some case studies for work they've done. Inspired by Victor's recent thoughts on story telling, I wonder if anyone has approached the CDS to discuss the intersection of digital story telling and IA? Seems like an opportunity for some knowledge sharing. I'm mainly interested in story telling at the moment becausing I'm working on personas.

Related to this topic is Richard Toscan's Visual vs. Verbal Storytelling, which compares the story telling approaches in Antonioni's film The Passenger with Ariel Dorfman's play Death and the Maiden. I am not familiar with either. Is interesting to see the breakdown of opening sequences for each of these stories described in terms of sensory media. I actually minored in cinema studies, but tended to shy away from analysis of story telling, especially with regard to textuality, but I've always been interested in how messages are communicated. I guess that last comment seems contradictory :). I wonder, are people who are into this story telling stuff also into Barthes and textuality? I recall the discomfort of actually having to read that literature.

[Thanks infodesign and xblog]

Jakob Nielsen made me do it

joyIs this autumnal image bringing you joy? Am I connecting with your life and physical environment? No, I didn't think so.

[Photo taken in Watermill, Long Island, Oct. 2002]