Today’s talk in 3 parts
How do we take context into account when
designing experiences that take place in physical
and digital spaces?
How does context inform our practice and day to
Some aspirational crap you can mock me for at a
Along the way
but there was something missing.
Who am I? Who are we?
We can’t agree on a deﬁnition of what we do, though
our job is often to deﬁne and label other domains.
We can’t diﬀerentiate ourselves from interaction
designers or usability professionals without utterly
confusing the lay person.
As a community, we debate these things amongst
We’re willing to accept the oddest of jobs dealing
with people and how they use technology to
manipulate and retrieve information. It doesn’t give
us ﬁrm ground to stand on.
It Leaves Us Feeling Defensive
“ Go for quick learning generalists
over ingrained specialists. We’ll
“never hire someone who’s an
information architect. It’s just
too overly speciﬁc. With a small
team like ours, it doesn’t make
sense to hire people with such a
narrowly deﬁned skill-set.
1 March 2006
Our Thinking About This
Has Become Way Too Uptight
Let me suggest we are Bricoleurs
It has come to mean one who works with his hands, usually in
devious or quot;craftyquot; ways when compared to the true craftsman,
whom Levi-Strauss equates with the Engineer. The Bricoleur is adept
at many tasks and at putting preexisting things together in new ways.
The Engineer deals with projects in their entirety, taking into account
the availability of materials and tools required. The Bricoleur
approximates the mind of quot;the savage mindquot; and the Engineer
approximates the scientiﬁc mind. Levi-Strauss says that the universe
of the Bricoleur is closed, and he is often forced to make do with
whatever is at hand, whereas the universe of the Engineer is open in
that he is able to create new tools and materials.
So when I say IA, you mean...
So when we say Information Architect, Fried says
designer, and we both mean bricoleurs.
The diﬀerence is the context in which we perform our
work, but the result is the same:
We derive intuitive, learnable, eﬃcient patterns of
human activity for addressing the problems of
chaotic, analog life.
“Be so good
that they can’t
- Steve Martin
Special Thanks To
The IDEA Conference volunteers and organizers,
especially Jorge Arango and Russ Unger.
My team: Mark Baldino, Ben Ihnchak, Jef Lear
My Friends & Clients: Paul D’Alessandro, Chris
Cooper, Joseph Wanka, Jeﬀ Laubach, Keith Daniels,
Michael Chanover, Gillian Jetson, Janna Devylder,
Devin Henkel, Brendan Gramer, Brian Maggi
My family: Lora Kovac and Sophia Kunesh
Thank You for Your Consideration
4445 North Sacramento Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625–3827