Reframing information architectureA CASE STUDY FROM THE JOHANNESBURG ART GALLERYBy Jason Hobbs
Terence Fenn
More than ever we are finding that traditional approachesto solving problems in the world are failing.
It has taken over 25 years to determine a solution for theHIV / AIDS problem largely because it was viewed as ascientific,...
And yet the solution, is in two major parts, addressing thesocial conditions in which the disease operates.
EducationWellness                       Anti-retroviral’s
“We have been learning to see social processes as thelinks tying up open systems into large and interconnectednetworks of ...
The Johannesburg Art Gallery presents such problem.
Gauteng: "Place of Gold"8.8 million people1.4% of South Africas land area20% of total population of South AfricaProvides 1...
• The building is a national monument• It will be 100 years old in 2015• Holds the most comprehensive archive of SA’n  art...
JAG Snag…viewed theproblem through thelense of architecture andtime
•   Leaking•   Damp and humidity•   Wear and tear•   Lack of secure storage space•   Sewerage•   Funding
But that’s just scratchingthe surface of theproblem.
•   Lack of funding•   Lack of vision•   Lack of resource•   Theft and security•   Lack of visitation•   Lack of competenc...
Indeterminate problems
Indeterminate problems are ill- defined, reliant onsubjective social agreement and wicked in the sense thatbefore they can...
Because at different levels problems may appear towarrant different solutions and a solution at one level, mayyield a prob...
So as an architect I’ll seethe problem like this…As an urbanist like this…As a civil policy-makerlike this…As a marketer l...
So we are faced with two fundamental challenges:
1. How do we collect, organise and understand the mass   of data that makes up the problem?2. If this is a multi-disciplin...
How do we collect, organiseand understand the mass ofdata that makes up theproblem?
This is where it helps to be an information architect…
Pen & paper techniques for getting from research to design WORKBOOK (Adaptive Path)
IA tools and techniques help us to analyse and understandcomplex problems.
The researchframework:•   The institution•   The users•   The market•   The legacy
Activities:• Stakeholder  interviews• Legacy presentation  & desktop research• Environmental  desktop research• SWOT photo...
If this is a multi-disciplinaryproblem, upon what set oftools and techniques do webase our solutioning? Howdo we come up w...
A void has been created.If we can’t fall back on any individual design discipline thenwhat underpins our approach to solut...
ARTIFACT      Experience              ExperienceARTIFACT             Data              ARTIFACT      Experience           ...
ARTIFACT      Experience               Experience                   Solution?ARTIFACT             Data               ARTIF...
But there’s something available to us that is even closer tohome.
IA’s re-organise parts to create new wholes that solveproblems in data based environments.
IA’s re-organise parts to create new wholes that solveproblems in (complex) data based environments.
You never directly experience the information architecture:It is between clicksIt is behind the navigation, the content, t...
And it is trans-disciplinary in nature.Although most of our thinking is applied to digitalenvironments like the web, the a...
INFORMATIONARCHITECTURE
A websiteIA solution  Data
Technology                 IA solutionGraphic design      Data       Content                 Navigation
Technology      Interaction                    Branding      design         IA solutionGraphic design          Data       ...
Our deliverables are the explicit articulation of structuraland spatial solutions from, for and in data.These solutions, a...
So how can this apply tothe JAG problem?
The art gallery        Its visitors                             Its business model                             SolutionIt’...
Data. Lots and lots of data.
Data. Lots and lots of data.                               Positioning         Identity                                Acc...
Data. Lots and lots of data.                                   Positioning         Identity                               ...
This is a reframing of IA
Information architecture design is the creative act ofsynthesising data to structure solutions.
Information architecture design is the creative act ofsynthesising data to structure solutions.Information architecture de...
Information architecture design is the creative act ofsynthesising data to structure solutions.Information architecture de...
And in doing so, we design meaning.
“At the end of the silence Fatherbegan talking, and in the space oftwenty minutes he revealed to methe facts of life. He h...
“And so I learnt the secretof diversity.Life is made up of differentavenues. Everything canhappen in one of severalways, a...
Information architecture design is poetic in nature.
In conclusion…
Four principles for indeterminate problem solving:
Four principles for indeterminate problem solving:1. Design problems are embedded in social practice
Four principles for indeterminate problem solving:1. Design problems are embedded in social practice2. Designers solve com...
Four principles for indeterminate problem solving:1. Design problems are embedded in social practice2. Designers solve com...
Four principles for indeterminate problem solving:1. Design problems are embedded in social practice2. Designers solve com...
Thank you.
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
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Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery

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Presentation at the 2012 Polish IA Summit in Warsaw.

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Reframing Information Architecture: A case study from the Johannesburg Art Gallery

  1. 1. Reframing information architectureA CASE STUDY FROM THE JOHANNESBURG ART GALLERYBy Jason Hobbs
  2. 2. Terence Fenn
  3. 3. More than ever we are finding that traditional approachesto solving problems in the world are failing.
  4. 4. It has taken over 25 years to determine a solution for theHIV / AIDS problem largely because it was viewed as ascientific, medical problem for so long.
  5. 5. And yet the solution, is in two major parts, addressing thesocial conditions in which the disease operates.
  6. 6. EducationWellness Anti-retroviral’s
  7. 7. “We have been learning to see social processes as thelinks tying up open systems into large and interconnectednetworks of systems, such that outputs of one becomeinputs of another. In that structural framework it hasbecome less apparent where problem centres lie, and lessapparent where and how we should intervene even if weknow what aims we seek”Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning (1973), Rittel and Webber
  8. 8. The Johannesburg Art Gallery presents such problem.
  9. 9. Gauteng: "Place of Gold"8.8 million people1.4% of South Africas land area20% of total population of South AfricaProvides 1/3 of the South African GDPAnd 7% of the whole of Africas GDP
  10. 10. • The building is a national monument• It will be 100 years old in 2015• Holds the most comprehensive archive of SA’n art in the world• Researchers visit internationally• Has hosted large, global scale exhibitions• Significant collection that is extremely valuable• Extensive collection of African art• Considered the best exhibition space in Africa and on par internationally
  11. 11. JAG Snag…viewed theproblem through thelense of architecture andtime
  12. 12. • Leaking• Damp and humidity• Wear and tear• Lack of secure storage space• Sewerage• Funding
  13. 13. But that’s just scratchingthe surface of theproblem.
  14. 14. • Lack of funding• Lack of vision• Lack of resource• Theft and security• Lack of visitation• Lack of competency• Lack of awareness• Lack of an arts-culture• Competitive environment• Visual overload• Lack of education• Ineffective use of channels• Missing potential markets• The location
  15. 15. Indeterminate problems
  16. 16. Indeterminate problems are ill- defined, reliant onsubjective social agreement and wicked in the sense thatbefore they can be solved they need to be tamed, definedand limited.
  17. 17. Because at different levels problems may appear towarrant different solutions and a solution at one level, mayyield a problem at a different level.
  18. 18. So as an architect I’ll seethe problem like this…As an urbanist like this…As a civil policy-makerlike this…As a marketer like this…As an operationsmanager like this…As a business man likethis…Etc…
  19. 19. So we are faced with two fundamental challenges:
  20. 20. 1. How do we collect, organise and understand the mass of data that makes up the problem?2. If this is a multi-disciplinary problem, upon what set of tools and techniques do we base our solutioning? How do we come up with a solution?
  21. 21. How do we collect, organiseand understand the mass ofdata that makes up theproblem?
  22. 22. This is where it helps to be an information architect…
  23. 23. Pen & paper techniques for getting from research to design WORKBOOK (Adaptive Path)
  24. 24. IA tools and techniques help us to analyse and understandcomplex problems.
  25. 25. The researchframework:• The institution• The users• The market• The legacy
  26. 26. Activities:• Stakeholder interviews• Legacy presentation & desktop research• Environmental desktop research• SWOT photo essays• International art market research• Internal user interviews• Contextual analysis• Content & functionality audits• User interviews• Competitor analysis• Best-practice and benchmarking
  27. 27. If this is a multi-disciplinaryproblem, upon what set oftools and techniques do webase our solutioning? Howdo we come up with asolution?
  28. 28. A void has been created.If we can’t fall back on any individual design discipline thenwhat underpins our approach to solutioning?How do we structure a solution involving vast amounts ofdata and multiple dimensions in which the problem lies?
  29. 29. ARTIFACT Experience ExperienceARTIFACT Data ARTIFACT Experience Experience ARTIFACT
  30. 30. ARTIFACT Experience Experience Solution?ARTIFACT Data ARTIFACT Experience Experience ARTIFACT
  31. 31. But there’s something available to us that is even closer tohome.
  32. 32. IA’s re-organise parts to create new wholes that solveproblems in data based environments.
  33. 33. IA’s re-organise parts to create new wholes that solveproblems in (complex) data based environments.
  34. 34. You never directly experience the information architecture:It is between clicksIt is behind the navigation, the content, the graphic designIt is enabled by the technology
  35. 35. And it is trans-disciplinary in nature.Although most of our thinking is applied to digitalenvironments like the web, the act of organisinginformation is actually abstracted from any particularchannel.
  36. 36. INFORMATIONARCHITECTURE
  37. 37. A websiteIA solution Data
  38. 38. Technology IA solutionGraphic design Data Content Navigation
  39. 39. Technology Interaction Branding design IA solutionGraphic design Data Content Usability Marketing Navigation
  40. 40. Our deliverables are the explicit articulation of structuraland spatial solutions from, for and in data.These solutions, are not the final design artifact.Rather, the final design artifact draws on this underlyingstructural solution to express itself.
  41. 41. So how can this apply tothe JAG problem?
  42. 42. The art gallery Its visitors Its business model SolutionIt’s marketing Data Its staff Its channels Its findability Its collection Its funding
  43. 43. Data. Lots and lots of data.
  44. 44. Data. Lots and lots of data. Positioning Identity Accessibility
  45. 45. Data. Lots and lots of data. Positioning Identity ? Accessibility ?
  46. 46. This is a reframing of IA
  47. 47. Information architecture design is the creative act ofsynthesising data to structure solutions.
  48. 48. Information architecture design is the creative act ofsynthesising data to structure solutions.Information architecture design is channel and disciplineagnostic problem solving.
  49. 49. Information architecture design is the creative act ofsynthesising data to structure solutions.Information architecture design is channel and disciplineagnostic problem solving.Information architecture design re-organises data fromdysfunctional formations to create new functionalformations.
  50. 50. And in doing so, we design meaning.
  51. 51. “At the end of the silence Fatherbegan talking, and in the space oftwenty minutes he revealed to methe facts of life. He held nothingback. He initiated me into thedeepest secrets of the Librarianslore: he laid bare the main highwayas well as the forest tracks, dizzyingprospects ofvariations, nuances, fantasies, exotic avenues, daring schemes, andeven eccentric whims. Books can bearranged by subject, by alphabeticorder of author’s names, by series orpublishers, in chronological order, bylanguages, by topics, by areas andfields or even by place ofpublication. There are so manydifferent ways” (Oz 2005: 24)
  52. 52. “And so I learnt the secretof diversity.Life is made up of differentavenues. Everything canhappen in one of severalways, according to differentmusical scores and parallellogics. Each of theseparallel logics is consistentand coherent in its ownterms, perfect initself, indifferent to all theothers…So I learnt from books theart of composition”
  53. 53. Information architecture design is poetic in nature.
  54. 54. In conclusion…
  55. 55. Four principles for indeterminate problem solving:
  56. 56. Four principles for indeterminate problem solving:1. Design problems are embedded in social practice
  57. 57. Four principles for indeterminate problem solving:1. Design problems are embedded in social practice2. Designers solve complex problems by testing them against solutions
  58. 58. Four principles for indeterminate problem solving:1. Design problems are embedded in social practice2. Designers solve complex problems by testing them against solutions3. The design of solutions is transdisciplinary
  59. 59. Four principles for indeterminate problem solving:1. Design problems are embedded in social practice2. Designers solve complex problems by testing them against solutions3. The design of solutions is transdisciplinary4. Design is an act of meaning-making
  60. 60. Thank you.

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