I wanted to explore these through Richard Saul Wurman’s LATCH, because thinking about LATCH is how I came to these conclusions, and because I think LATCH is flawed and that a lot of us are probably using it wrong.
Imagine my surprise when I saw the IAS blog describe my talk as being about “the shortcomings of Richard Saul Wurmam”
I don’t want to disappoint, and I do have some problems with how we talk about him relative to our work.
He keeps saying that he does his work to satisfy his own curiosity, and doesn't think about the impact on others, and I’m not sure you can do good work without thinking about how your work will be used by others, and how it will effect the wellbeing of the rest of the world. We do should be thinking about others, all day, every day, obsessively.
I have to define Good, because I’m a student of Dan Klyn.
This is a big goal and to get there we need to accept that we can’t just go on a solo expedition to mine some objective Truth and disseminate it to others, because there isn’t an objective Truth. We don’t need to find out what is, we need to find the whats that are, and imagine the whats that could be.
This means asking some big questions:
If you want to Architect Information you must first create reality.
Back to LATCH, for a min
I used to think of it as a sorting machine: chaos in the top, understandable piles out the bottom, but if you try to use it like that, it breaks.
The categories overlap and intersect in weird ways and don’t feel like they belong in the same acronym. Sorting by alphabet is fundamentally different that sorting by category. And I think I’ve organized things in ways that LATCH does not address.
IA Final exam: I sorted by which social meaning the products supported… where’s that in LATCH?
To figure this out, I had to start puzzling over what I was really doing when I architected information. Which meant figuring out what reality was.
I’ve come to view reality as a series of desire paths which criss-cross our world and help us accomplish the things we need to in order to survive. They are just as real as the objectively true sidewalks around it.
Reality is a messy fabric of desire paths. And this fabric is where we architect information… we don’t care about the objective reality of a hat, if there even is one… We care about where a ‘hat’ sits in this fabric. What makes it a hat, what does it mean to us, our stakeholders, our users… We are teasing out a thread from this messy reality and reinforcing it. We are putting fences in front of some paths, and pointing arrows towards others. We have an ethical duty to think about how these choices change our future reality.
LATCH is a tutorial for pushing on things to see how they are attached to this fabric of reality
Location=spatial structures Time = temporal structures
Things on a spectrum: blank, blankier, blankest.
This is “sub-type” or “kind of” but
I think category is a cop-out, because here is functions as “other” anything is a category once you start sorting things that way. And the process by which we create these categories is important, because once we make them and people start to use them, they become a part of reality…
Most people will just walk the paths before them, because we just need to service
The structures/paths of reality are like an ant bridge… they only exist because we keep using them. if we stopped using a harmful structure, it would disappear..
Choosing which structures to reinforce and which categories to create is not neutral. We are either choosing reinforce the structures that exists, or we are actively resisting them.
Look around. Everyone in this room is advantaged, and also has a job that allows them to impose truth on others. And tell me if you think this group of people is likely to be reinforcing structures which are good for everyone, if we are only thinking about ourselves… or our business goals, or even just our users…
I don’t mean just intentionally misleading manipulation, but the lazy Acceptance of desire paths as that we have been using for decades, centuries, millennia..
“I know this path is real… because I use it every day!
Shoes filtered by color and the color selected is “nude” but these shoes are not reflective of the skin tones of all people, and they uphold
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.
Architecting Reality IAS 2015
• We live in a shared ‘reality’ sustained
by our continued use of it
• Nothing is neutral
• We have an ethical duty as
information architects to be aware of
the structures we are upholding and
how they impact our future
• Challenge structures of inequality
• Help more people be healthy, happy, have
agency over their own lives, and control of
their own meanings
• Helps people make choices that lead to
What is Good?
“The opposite of a
fact is falsehood,
but the opposite of
one profound truth
may very well be
truth.” -Niels Bohr
Image by Flickr user amanda_freeman
If you wish to make an
apple pie from
scratch, you must
first invent the
“Most of our
lives are spent joining
others in the re-
is little encouragement
to do more, and
numerous reasons to
remain within familiar
and Power Book I,
Section 4.)Image Flickr user funfilledgeorgie
“…there are advantages to some
in imposing a language (truth,
knowledge) and restricting the
creation and circulation of other
–Creel Froman (Language and Power, Book I, Section
“Consequences of realities
affect different people
differently, and those
advantaged solidify their
advantages into structures.”
–Creel Froman (Language and Power, Book I, Section 10)
Photo of illustration in
How to Make Sense of Any Mess
by Abby Covert
From This post by Tumblr user La Negra Barbuda