Pure IA | Work in Progress

Greetings Earthlings,

Thank you for your patience during the long quiet. It took forever to find my way through the cognitive gloom. Inspiration came in 3 forms, much like the Magi of the season or Scrooge’s ghosts.

Magi 1: The dissolution of the IA Institute as a viable entity to sustain and grow the IA community.

After joining the IAI Board with visions of revitalization dancing in my head, I got a look at “the book” and saw the dire landscape that previous presidents had left in place.

IAI Financial Picture 2000-2018

Investments in website infrastructure, abandonment the main revenue generating conference, a membership model that diminished benefit to paid membership and allegiance to expensive 3rd party tools drained all revenue. Once it was clear that the founding members and general membership were not invested in the Institute, it was dissolved. Of note, we all owe our deepest gratitude to Amy Espinosa who, as Treasurer and later President, single-highhandedly guided the Institute through difficult financial straits until a President with the good sense to listen came on board and shepherded the Institute to its foregone conclusion with grace.

Magi 2: Diminished relevance of information architecture as it is subsumed into UX.

If you look up “information architecture” on Google, the results more closely and you will find that most promote IA as UX or exist on UX publications; likely the result of a dearth (as in none that I can think of) publications devoted to information architecture. Those who promoted the concept of information architecture have moved on to UX. Lou Rosenfeld, the commonly thought of “father of IA,” now publishes books focused on UX and promotes conferences on Enterprise Search and How to do Research. Losing thought leadership, an established professional organization to coordinate outreach, promote visibility and diversity pushed the IAI into oblivion.

Magi 3: Search Solutions 2020

My final conference presentation of 2020 was for Search Solutions 2020, from the British Computing Society, a pointy-headed favorite of mine. My focus was on Learning to Rank, an emerging artificial intelligence model for Google. HCI Can Improve Neural IR

The presentation rests on significant paper written by Francois Challot (On Measure of Intelligence), Google scholar, who finds human factors critical to the definition of consciousness that is the foundation for intelligence. In refining my thinking on the intersections of AI, IA, content strategy and…sigh…user experience I stumbled into the intelligence augmentation rabbit hole. This is the future path that I see for information architecture (IA) as it incorporates information augmentation (IA).

Isaac Asimov famously said: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’ Hard to believe but true, this is what I said when I found that intelligence augmentation is: naming, structure and connection. These have always been the core tenants of information architecture to me. That is funny, they seem to be among the core tenants of intelligence augmentation.

So, that is why I started Pure IA, a closed group temporarily hosted on Linkedin. Because information architecture is being transformed into intelligence augmentation and we are able, ready and, I hope, willing to retrofit a bit and meet a crucial need in the development of artificially intelligent applications.

Oh, I dislike referring to us as a “group.” It seems to blah. I would like to think of us as guild of IA guild. We can decide later what IA means. 😊