The End of Information Architecture?

It was ironic to hear Peter Morville’s keynote in Track 3 this morning and his emphasis on findability, since the track name was “Where Next for Information Architecture?” And as the author of the “polar bear” book, Peter is one of the icons of the IA.

Listening to Peter you could hear IA morphing into findability. Of course, his new book, perhaps to become known as the “laughing lemur” book, is Ambient Findability, so it was no surprise that he cast things in that light.

If the results aren’t in the first or second page of a Google search, they are practically unfindable, said Peter. No matter how usable or well-designed the site is, it comes down to search engine rankings and findability. (This sounds like SEO by a different name, right?) Findability is “pull,” the ability to get information when and however you need it. Even people can become findable objects, suggested Peter, if they embed an RFID chip under their skin, as a few avid geeks have done.

Peter’s remarks were a good balance to David Weinberger’s opening keynote , suggesting that instead of throwing out (cutting down?) the trees of content structure, that we define the leaves and enhance the structure with tags and social networks.

That balance was what the questioners in Weinberger’s audience were looking for yesterday. Perhaps in a few years we’ll know whose ideas came closer to the future reality.

Nancy Garman
Information Today, Inc.
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