IAs in search of an identity?

Andrew Dillon talks about IA at the ACM SIGCHI conference in the June/July ASIST Bulletin. The prevailing message of the article is that while we try to define and differentiate IA concerns -- like information organization and labeling -- from other fields, a lot of other issues that what we concern ourselves with is no different from what HCI people have always been concerned with -- like user interface design, user interaction and usability. The biggest obstacle to IA becoming a distinct discipline remains its lack of unique methods and theories. It has few, if any, which are not drawn from or based on work in HCI, LIS or CS (if I left out your pet discipline it is only because I cannot remember its acronym). Attempts to position IA as a unique approach, distinct from these others, are unlikely to convince anyone and will certainly disenfranchise certain groups who feel that they perform similar work. Without engaging across disciplines we are going to run straight into them, forming panels at conferences to answer questions that everybody else has long since given up asking. Hair splitting divides produce splinter groups, not disciplines. IA, as a meta-discipline, should engage and share, not partition. After all, professionals in many camps tend to share the same goals: the design, development and implementation of more humanly acceptable information systems. As long as we are battling to get human-centered design taken seriously, such professionals are all on the same side. And maybe then, and only then, will we design e-books that offer something better than paper.