Global Information Architecture Workshop


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Workshop on global IA presented in Miami, 2008 at the IA Summit.

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  • Untranslatable words in the overview slides are taken from the book “They have a word for it – a lighthearted lexicon of untranslatable words & phrases” by Howard Rheingold, 1988. Global Information Architecture is about developing the taxonomies, navigation systems, labeling conventions, content structures etc. that make up the structure of a website in a global environment, where language and culture come into play.
  • Global Information Architecture Workshop

    1. Global Information Architecture Workshop. Peter Van Dijck – April 11, 2008. ASIS&T IA Summit Pre- Conference |
    2. Today <ul><li>Introduction. </li></ul><ul><li>Categories are cultural. </li></ul><ul><li>What happens when classifications go global? </li></ul><ul><li>Classifying people & work. </li></ul><ul><li>Developing locales. </li></ul><ul><li>Break. </li></ul><ul><li>Locale switcher. </li></ul><ul><li>Global gateway. </li></ul><ul><li>Content availability indicator. </li></ul><ul><li>Alphabetical order. </li></ul><ul><li>Translating taxonomies. </li></ul><ul><li>Intercultural user research. </li></ul><ul><li>(tag: globalia) </li></ul>
    3. What is culture? <ul><li>Culture comes in layers : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Visible products of culture. (symbols, laws, products, practices, …) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Values and norms , that become invisible. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Culture shows up at different levels </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Countries, regions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social class </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Professional groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Everyone belongs to multiple cultures . </li></ul>
    4. Myths about culture & technology. <ul><li>The myth of globalization as cultural standardization. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People give meaning to artifacts & practices. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The myth that there is one path of technological evolution. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology and culture interact, are co-created. </li></ul></ul>
    5. Categories are cultural. Biga Peula (Kiriwina, New Guinea) Potentially disruptive, unredeemable true statements.
    6. The continents <ul><li>Seven Continents : Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, South America. </li></ul><ul><li>Seven Continents : Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, Australia, South America. (in USA) </li></ul><ul><li>Six Continents : Africa, Antarctica, Oceania, Eurasia, North America, and South America. </li></ul><ul><li>Six Continents: Africa, America, Antarctica, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. </li></ul><ul><li>Five Continents : Africa, America, Oceania, Antarctica, Eurasia. </li></ul><ul><li>Five Continents : Africa, America, Oceania, Europe, Asia. (in Europe and South America) </li></ul><ul><li>Four Continents : America, Oceania, Antarctica, Eurafrasia. </li></ul>
    7. Let’s organize this mess once and for all.
    8. Dewey Decimal System <ul><li>210 Natural theology </li></ul><ul><li>220 Bible </li></ul><ul><li>230 Christian Theology </li></ul><ul><li>240 Christian moral & devotional theology </li></ul><ul><li>250 Christian orders & local churches </li></ul><ul><li>260 Christian social theology </li></ul><ul><li>270 Christian church history </li></ul><ul><li>280 Christian denominations & sects </li></ul><ul><li>290 Other and comparative religions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>294 Religions of Indic origin </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>294.3 Buddhism </li></ul></ul></ul>
    9. Why hasn’t it been updated? <ul><li>Categories become embedded in infrastructure . </li></ul><ul><li>There is no one categorization that works for everyone. </li></ul>
    10. The Maori
    12. The Craigslist mistake
    14. Bias.
    15. Recap: categories are cultural <ul><li>Categories are cultural </li></ul><ul><li>Dewey’s lessons: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Categories are embedded in infrastructure. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There is no taxonomy that works for everyone. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Craigslist mistake. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be afraid of bias. </li></ul>
    16. What happens when classification systems go global ? Kyoikumama (Japanese) Mother who pushes her children into academic achievement [noun]
    17. Introducing IA archeology <ul><li>Geoffrey C. Bower & Susan Leigh Star researched the ICD, a long lived, global taxonomy, from a social science point of view. </li></ul>
    18. ICD examples
    19. The ICD. <ul><li>Worldwide : every country of the world uses some version of the ICD. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The ICD is ubiquitous in medical information systems. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Long lived (origins in the late 19 th century), and still used today. </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple audiences . Used by different groups: doctors (MD’s), statisticians, insurance companies, … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s taught to medical practitioners. </li></ul></ul>
    20. Multiple audiences worldwide <ul><li>Countries: gathered in developed & less developed countries. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultures: differences in culture cause different classifications. </li></ul><ul><li>Audiences : different needs of doctors, epidemiologists and statisticians. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Used by states, hospitals, insurance companies. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More interested parties: industrial firms & pharmaceutical companies, … </li></ul></ul>
    21. Standards & workarounds <ul><li>The divergence in worldviews is dealt with by standardizing … </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Which is responded to with workarounds . </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The “other” category becomes very useful, or the first or default choice. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There is no perfect solution for this tension between central and local. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    22. Recap: classification systems that go global: <ul><li>Touch more audiences … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>with their own priorities & worldviews. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Attempt to standardize … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>which is responded to with workarounds . </li></ul></ul>
    23. Classifying People & Work.
    24. Classifying people . <ul><li>1977: </li></ul><ul><li>Please choose your race (only one): - White - Black - American Indian and Alaskan Native - Asian and Pacific Islander </li></ul><ul><li>Please choose your ethnicity: - Hispanic - Non-hispanic </li></ul><ul><li>1997: </li></ul><ul><li>Please choose your race (one or more): - American Indian or Alaska Native - Black or African American - Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander - White - Some Other Race </li></ul><ul><li>Please choose your ethnicity (only one): - Hispanic - Non-Hispanic </li></ul>
    25. Classifying work . <ul><li>Work classification is used for lots of purposes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>accounting, quality management, recordkeeping, business processes, legitimization of work practice, etc… </li></ul></ul>
    27. Recap <ul><li>Consider the consequences when classifying people (& work). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Careful with limiting categories. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t assume your local classifications of people & work will globalize easily. </li></ul>
    28. Developing locales. Maya (Sanskrit) The mistaken belief that a symbol is the same as the reality it represents. [noun]
    29. Language complexity <ul><li>Most countries have multiple languages and some languages are spoken in many countries. </li></ul><ul><li>UK : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Native languages: Welsh, Scottish, Cornish, Manx, Irish. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No official language (as the USA). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>English reaches everyone. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Belgium : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>French, Dutch and German official languages. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>French & Dutch required. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Local version preferred but not required. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Switzerland : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>German, French, Italian and about 1% Romansh. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>International written versions of these are ok, although locally spoken versions are different. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>China : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lots of languages and dialects, Mandarin is the most common. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2 versions of written language: Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For PRC (Mainland China) or Singapore: Simplified Chinese. For Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau: Traditional Chinese (with a few differences for Hong Kong and Macau). </li></ul></ul>
    30. Languages spoken <ul><li>Yiddish linguist Max Weinrich: “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy” </li></ul><ul><li>Most people in the world are native speakers of more than 1 language. </li></ul><ul><li>India : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 100 languages spoken (427 total). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>English and Hindi are the most universal. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provinces have local languages (Malayalam for Kerala). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indian English is quite different from American or British English. (&quot;Dear Sir, with reference to your above see my below.“) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Africa : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1000s of languages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nigeria has 516 spoken languages. Congo 216. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most people speak 2, 3 or 4 languages natively. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trade languages include Swahili, and since colonization French (West Africa) and English (East Africa). </li></ul></ul>
    31. Global languages <ul><li>English, Spanish, Portuguese and French (and others) are spoken in many countries, but have different versions. </li></ul><ul><li>English : British and American English separate (esp. for consumers), but use American if you have to choose, unless you’re based in the UK. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Indian English is very different (“ You're going, isn't it? ”, “ I am understanding it. ”). (Like Black English, but Indian English has an army and a navy.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa probably prefer British English. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>French : European French is somewhat different from Canadian French, but not much. </li></ul><ul><li>Spanish : each country has its own variant, but you can use &quot;Latin American Spanish” for Latin America and European Spanish for Spain. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>USA Spanish becomes Spanglish. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Universal Spanish” is also possible. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Portuguese : Brazilian and European Portuguese are so far apart that you need two separate versions. </li></ul>
    32. What are locales <ul><li>Terminology: internationalize & localize. </li></ul><ul><li>A locale is traditionally a country-language combination. </li></ul><ul><li>User expectations are going up: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>average website in John Yunker’s report is localized in 20 languages. Google search is available in 117 languages. </li></ul></ul>
    33. How to get started <ul><li>Look at locale structure </li></ul><ul><li>Think markets, not languages </li></ul>
    34. Typical example
    35. Which languages? <ul><li>English is the new trade language. </li></ul><ul><li>Top 10 spoken languages: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>English </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>French </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spanish (Latin America) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Russian </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Arabic (middle east) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chinese </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>German </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Japanese </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Portuguese (Brazil) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hindu-Urdu (India) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Easy recipe: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Latin languages first: English & Spanish. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Next: French, German, Portuguese (they’re easy). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Next: Russian & Hindu-Urdu (not easy markets to enter though). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Next: Mandarin & Japanese (harder to localize for). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Next: Arabic (hardest to localize for – left to right!) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most internet users: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>China </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>USA </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Japan </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Germany </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>UK </li></ul></ul></ul>
    36. Locale structure <ul><li>Translate the UI </li></ul><ul><li>Template site. </li></ul><ul><li>Separate sites </li></ul>
    37. When to use: <ul><li>Translate the UI </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social networks (Myspace, Flickr, …) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Simple brochuresites. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Templated site. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intranets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Product companies (Dell, …) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Separate sites: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketplaces (eBay, Craigslist, Amazon) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>UI translated. Content is the same (either all translated or not, for user generated content). </li></ul><ul><li>Central templates with local adjustments. </li></ul><ul><li>UI can diverge over time. Content is local. Categories can be different. </li></ul>
    38. Hyperlocalize <ul><li>Specialized, very local locales that have a large population and often a lot of pride in their localness. </li></ul>
    39. Overlapping locales <ul><li>Locales have a strong tendency to float and overlap. </li></ul>
    43. Domain names <ul><li>Everything under, or local domains (,, …). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t use domain names for language locales, use or instead. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t necessarily translate into </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal consequences: hosting locally, availability of domain names, … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Think about your markets, and don’t be afraid of a mixed strategy. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Translate branding domains (advertising campaigns, …). </li></ul><ul><li>International domain names are coming (2009 - …). </li></ul>
    44. Business.
    45. A word about effect on business strategy. <ul><li>Business processes </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing & branding </li></ul><ul><li>Revenue: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Top 3 users of Orkut: 66% in Brazil, 10% in the USA, 7% in Iran. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advertising (USA) versus digital goods (Asia) for social networks. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t go global, go regional. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Effects on business (offices, business processes, adjustments in product offerings, …) tend to scale to regions, not global. </li></ul></ul>
    46. Recap: locales <ul><li>Languages. </li></ul><ul><li>Locale structure. </li></ul><ul><li>Hyperlocalize. </li></ul><ul><li>Overlapping locales. </li></ul><ul><li>Domain names. </li></ul><ul><li>Effects on business & strategy. </li></ul>
    47. Exercise: Latin America locales <ul><li>You’re at a social network X (competes with Facebook & such), currently US English only, and you need to come up with a strategy to expand to “Latin America” (no detail was given). </li></ul>
    48. Break.
    49. Locale switcher.
    50. The basics <ul><li>Locale naming: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use “Français” instead of “French”. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Careful with flags. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Show current locale. </li></ul><ul><li>Let user switch. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember settings. </li></ul>
    53. Global Gateway . Kulikov (Yiddish) Legal judgment made for pragmatic reasons. [adjective]
    54. Basics <ul><li>See locale switcher, plus: </li></ul><ul><li>Just the locales; 1 page. </li></ul><ul><li>Still keep locale switcher on site. </li></ul><ul><li>Two styles: gateway first, or homepage first. </li></ul>
    60. Content availability .
    61. Content availability indicator <ul><li>Shows other available languages for content. </li></ul><ul><li>Use when: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User is not seeing content in their language, but other languages are available. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User may want to see alternative options. </li></ul></ul>
    62. Alphabetical ordering.
    66. Fucha (Polish) Using company time and resources for your own ends. [verb] Translating taxonomies.
    67. Translating taxonomies. <ul><li>Taxonomies depend on content, users & context. </li></ul><ul><li>Ambiguity of the taxonomy affects translatability: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>technical terms -> country list -> subject category. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unambiguous … -> ... Very ambiguous. </li></ul></ul>
    68. Issues with translating taxonomies <ul><li>Semantic overlap </li></ul><ul><li>Differences in granularity </li></ul><ul><li>Differences in hierarchy </li></ul><ul><li>Untranslatable concepts </li></ul>
    69. 1. Semantic overlap girl fille niña GIRL: A female child. An immature or inexperienced woman, especially a young woman. A daughter: our youngest girl. Informal. A grown woman: a night out with the girls. A female who comes from or belongs to a particular place: a city girl. Offensive. A female servant, such as a maid. A female sweetheart: cadets escorting their girls to the ball. Very few words match up exactly between two languages. Context is needed to clarify. Girl = niña, chica, joven or hija.
    70. 2. Differences in granularity <ul><li>Germans don’t have a word for skidding, but they do have two words, Rutschen and Schleudern, for skidding forwards and skidding sideways. </li></ul>skidding Skidding sideways Skidding forwards n/a rutschen schleudern
    71. 3. Differences in hierarchy <ul><li>French hierarchy: Betail > gros betail > boeuf English hierarchy: livestock > — > cattle </li></ul>betail Gros betail boeuf livestock n/a cattle banana n/a n/a platano platano banana
    72. 4. Untranslatable concepts <ul><li>Some concepts don’t have a translation but can be explained, others cannot be explained completely. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Also between different user groups (doctors and patients, for example). </li></ul></ul>
    73. Being practical <ul><li>Develop centrally, translate and adjust locally if needed (the Dewey Decimal approach). </li></ul><ul><li>Develop in each locale (the eBay approach). </li></ul>
    74. Intercultural user research. Zwischenraum (German) The space between things. [noun]
    75. Team composition <ul><ul><li>Nepalese antropologist Rajendra Pradhan: “Believe believe believe, that’s what everyone here talks about.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Researcher (elderly black lady): “People told me they opened up to me because of my color and grey hairs”. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Recognize that you have blind spots, and think about your team composition. </li></ul>
    76. Gut feel. <ul><li>Jorge Arango: “It looks too dry”. </li></ul><ul><li>You can’t rely on gut feel to evaluate for other cultures. </li></ul>
    79. <ul><li>“Studying culture without experiencing culture shock is like practicing to swim without water.” </li></ul><ul><li>Test for “ angry ”, with locals. </li></ul>The usefulness of culture shock
    80. Adapting your methodology <ul><li>UX methodology is US/Western centered. </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluating content for immigrant students. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>English & Spanish versions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different content. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Talk out loud is a typical problem. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bollywood technique (invented by Apala Lahiri Chavan). </li></ul></ul>
    81. Recap <ul><li>Team composition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Recognize that you have blind spots, and think about your team composition. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Gut feel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You can’t rely on gut feel to evaluate for other cultures. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The usefulness of culture shock </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Test for angry </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Adapting your methodology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>UX methodology is US/Western centered. </li></ul></ul>
    82. Recap of today & discussion . Kekau (Indonesian) To awaken from a nightmare. [verb]
    83. Recap & discussion <ul><li>Introduction. </li></ul><ul><li>Categories are cultural. </li></ul><ul><li>What happens when classifications go global? </li></ul><ul><li>Classifying people & work. </li></ul><ul><li>Developing locales. </li></ul><ul><li>Break. </li></ul><ul><li>Locale switcher. </li></ul><ul><li>Global gateway. </li></ul><ul><li>Content availability indicator. </li></ul><ul><li>Alphabetical order. </li></ul><ul><li>Translating taxonomies. </li></ul><ul><li>Intercultural user research. </li></ul>
    84. Thank you . Wei-wu-wei (Chinese) Conscious nonaction; the act of not acting. [verb]
    85. Recommended books <ul><li>Sorting things out – classification and its consequences. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Riding the waves of culture – understanding diversity in global business. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Keywords – a vocabulary of culture and society. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Raymond Williams. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Word on the street – debunking the myth of a “pure” standard English. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>John McWhorter </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Women, Fire and Dangerous Things – What categories reveal about the Mind. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>George Lakoff </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cultures and organizations – software of the mind – intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Geert Hofstede. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>They have a word for it – a lighthearted lexicon of untransltable words & phrases. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Howard Rheingold. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Redefining global strategy – crossing borders in a world where differences still matter. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pankaj Ghemawat </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The platypus and the mermaid – and other figments of the classifying imagination. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Harriet Ritvo </li></ul></ul>