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The Architecture
of Understanding
Peter Morville, Trondheim, #emtacl15
6	
  
The Library of Congress
“To further the progress of knowledge and creativity.”
Fragmentation
Fragmentation into multiple sites,
domains, and identities is a major
problem. Users don’t know which
site t...
8	
  
Web Governance Board
Goodness
Complexity
Simple
Complex
Simple
Nature
Isle Royale National Park
Planning
Inspiration
Planning
Playing
Practicing
“With respect to learning by failure, it’s all fun and
games until someone gets a larval cyst in the brain.”
“There is a problem in discussing
systems only with words. Words and
sentences must, by necessity, come only
one at a time...
Food Scarcity
(overpopluation)
T T
Inflow
(birth rate)
Outflow
(death rate)
Stock
(population)
T T
Disease
(canine parvovi...
“It is the responsibility of the
architect to know and concentrate
on the critical few details and
interfaces that really ...
The design and management
of information systems.
Understanding the nature
of information in systems.
Categories
Categories are the cornerstones of cognition and culture.
We use radio buttons when checkboxes or sliders would reveal the truth.
Connections
HyperlinksPages
Web
PathsPlaces
Space
ConnectionsCategories
Mind
ConsequencesActions
Time
“The system always kicks back.”
If you think information architecture hasn’t changed
since the polar bear, you’re simply not paying attention.
39	
  
C
o
n
t
e
x
t
Users Creators
“Tell me about a day in your life.”
“How can I know what I
think until I see what I say?”
Culture
Underlying
Assumptions
Espoused
Values
Artifacts
Visible organizational
structures and processes
(hard to decipher)
Strate...
Double-loop learning in organizations (and individuals) is rare.
The relationship between information and culture.
“There’s a secret about MRIs and
back pain: the most common
problems physicians see on MRI and
attribute to back pain – he...
“If you want to accelerate
someone’s death, give him a
personal doctor. I don’t mean
provide him with a bad doctor.
Just p...
48	
   Roger Bannister, Iffley Road Track, Oxford, 1954
Limits
“It is now my suggestion that many
people may not want information, and
that they will avoid using a system
precisely beca...
“We shape our buildings. Thereafter, they shape us.” – Winston Churchill
“Willpower is the single most
important keystone habit for
individual success.”
“A culture of generosity.”
Josie Parker, Ann Arbor District Library
“Where architects use forms and spaces to design
environments for inhabitation, information architects use
nodes and links...
Daylighting
Daylighting
Map the System
Map the Context Share the Map
62	
  
Firmitas, Utilitas, Venustas
Vitruvius, De Architectura (15 BC)
No house should
ever be on a hill or
on anything. It should be
of the hill. Belonging to it.
“Any wild flower is truly simple but double the
same wild flower by cultivation and it ceases to be
so. The scheme of the ...
“Each step is a potential place: place to
worship, place to wash, place to sell, place
to sleep, place to die and be burne...
67	
  
The library is an act of inspiration architecture and a keystone of culture.
Thank You!IA Therefore I Am
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
The Architecture of Understanding
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The Architecture of Understanding

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Peter Morville's opening keynote for emtacl15 in Trondheim, Norway.

Published in: Design

The Architecture of Understanding

  1. 1. The Architecture of Understanding Peter Morville, Trondheim, #emtacl15
  2. 2. 6   The Library of Congress “To further the progress of knowledge and creativity.”
  3. 3. Fragmentation Fragmentation into multiple sites, domains, and identities is a major problem. Users don’t know which site to visit for which purpose. Findability Users can’t find what they need from the home page, but most users don’t come through the front door. They enter via a web search or a deep link, and are confused by what they find. Even worse, most never use the Library, because its resources aren’t easily findable.
  4. 4. 8   Web Governance Board
  5. 5. Goodness Complexity
  6. 6. Simple Complex Simple
  7. 7. Nature
  8. 8. Isle Royale National Park
  9. 9. Planning Inspiration
  10. 10. Planning Playing Practicing
  11. 11. “With respect to learning by failure, it’s all fun and games until someone gets a larval cyst in the brain.”
  12. 12. “There is a problem in discussing systems only with words. Words and sentences must, by necessity, come only one at a time in linear, logical order. Systems happen all at once. They are connected not just in one direction, but in many directions simultaneously.”
  13. 13. Food Scarcity (overpopluation) T T Inflow (birth rate) Outflow (death rate) Stock (population) T T Disease (canine parvovirus) Immigration (via ice bridge) Parasites (moose tick) Weather (mild winter) Inflow (birth rate) Outflow (death rate) Stock (population)
  14. 14. “It is the responsibility of the architect to know and concentrate on the critical few details and interfaces that really matter.”
  15. 15. The design and management of information systems. Understanding the nature of information in systems.
  16. 16. Categories
  17. 17. Categories are the cornerstones of cognition and culture.
  18. 18. We use radio buttons when checkboxes or sliders would reveal the truth.
  19. 19. Connections
  20. 20. HyperlinksPages Web
  21. 21. PathsPlaces Space
  22. 22. ConnectionsCategories Mind
  23. 23. ConsequencesActions Time
  24. 24. “The system always kicks back.”
  25. 25. If you think information architecture hasn’t changed since the polar bear, you’re simply not paying attention.
  26. 26. 39   C o n t e x t Users Creators
  27. 27. “Tell me about a day in your life.”
  28. 28. “How can I know what I think until I see what I say?”
  29. 29. Culture
  30. 30. Underlying Assumptions Espoused Values Artifacts Visible organizational structures and processes (hard to decipher) Strategies, goals, philosophies, justifications Unconscious, taken for granted beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, feelings (source of values, action) Three Levels of Culture
  31. 31. Double-loop learning in organizations (and individuals) is rare.
  32. 32. The relationship between information and culture.
  33. 33. “There’s a secret about MRIs and back pain: the most common problems physicians see on MRI and attribute to back pain – herniated, ruptured, and bulging discs – are seen almost as commonly on MRIs of healthy people without back pain.”
  34. 34. “If you want to accelerate someone’s death, give him a personal doctor. I don’t mean provide him with a bad doctor. Just pay for him to choose his own. Any doctor will do.”
  35. 35. 48   Roger Bannister, Iffley Road Track, Oxford, 1954
  36. 36. Limits
  37. 37. “It is now my suggestion that many people may not want information, and that they will avoid using a system precisely because it gives them information…If you have information, you must first read it. You must then try to understand it. Understanding the information may show that your work was wrong, or may show that your work was needless. Thus not having and not using information can lead to less trouble and pain than having and using it.” Calvin Mooers (1959) The limits of information
  38. 38. “We shape our buildings. Thereafter, they shape us.” – Winston Churchill
  39. 39. “Willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success.”
  40. 40. “A culture of generosity.” Josie Parker, Ann Arbor District Library
  41. 41. “Where architects use forms and spaces to design environments for inhabitation, information architects use nodes and links to create environments for understanding.” Jorge Arango, Architectures (2011)
  42. 42. Daylighting
  43. 43. Daylighting
  44. 44. Map the System Map the Context Share the Map
  45. 45. 62  
  46. 46. Firmitas, Utilitas, Venustas Vitruvius, De Architectura (15 BC)
  47. 47. No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it.
  48. 48. “Any wild flower is truly simple but double the same wild flower by cultivation and it ceases to be so. The scheme of the original is no longer clear.”
  49. 49. “Each step is a potential place: place to worship, place to wash, place to sell, place to sleep, place to die and be burned.” Donlyn Lyndon (1962)
  50. 50. 67   The library is an act of inspiration architecture and a keystone of culture.
  51. 51. Thank You!IA Therefore I Am

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