The Digital Place You Love Is Gone

Expanding on Marsha Haverty’s discourse on meaning, we’ll look at what happens when we encounter loss of place. So many times we design for new users, with only a passing nod at existing ones. But what happens when we redesign a familiar experience, especially one that people have “grown up with”? What happens when digital destinations disappear? A strong dissonance affects people who become used to a certain digital place, a certain set of patterns, images, and interactions. When this place changes, especially dramatically, people experience loss, frustration, anger, blame, and confusion.

We’ll use Melissa Holbrook Pierson’s “The Place You Love Is Gone: Progress Hits Home” as a starting point, with strong nods to work by Andrea Resmini and Luca Rosati, Jim Kalbach, Peter Morville, and other experts in placemaking, wayfinding, and other digital geographies. We’ll look at physical analogies as well as digital examples. Ultimately, we’ll ponder key approaches to easing the sense of loss people might experience when progress destroys their digital homes.

Language is Infrastructure

Like fish who take water for granted, organizations often overlook how language is a critical part of their infrastructure. We often think of content, metadata, names, or links, as stuff we put into the environment. But that way of thinking underestimates just how much language is actually part of our environment. What happens when we don’t take language seriously as a primary medium? Organizational confusion and incoherence: from planning to making, and from databases to interfaces.

Understanding how language is infrastructure is even more important now, with the explosion of mobile, cross-channel, and blended environments, across entire service experiences and touchpoints. The language we use as infrastructure is the information we use for architecture.

Some of what we will cover:

  • How language works as the primary interface between people and complex systems.
  • Why labels are more than just names we put on things, and how they change (or even create) the environments they name.
  • How taxonomy is more prevalent than we tend to think, and how it plays an essential role in all kinds of environments and services–online and off.
  • Stories and everyday examples of how language creates the “maps we live in.”

Information Cartilage: Context, Intelligent Systems, and IA

This presentation is an attempt to understand expanding information spaces from a phenomenological perspective. As technology continues to challenge the online/offline distinction, phenomenology provides a useful framework for thinking about context, the role of situated being, and the need for order.

Artificial intelligence and context-aware computing are used as examples of information environments that specifically call out the benefits of understanding information as a bodily entity—as in a ‘body of information’ or ‘body of knowledge.’

Concentrating on a Heideggerian approach to technology, which in part characterizes technology as a call for order and structure, the essay will examine the idea of ‘structured flexibility’ needed for systems that not only process information but also predict needs, shape information contexts, and actively engage in the user-system interaction. Finally, it will provide new ways for information architects to think about the expanding space of information.

More Than a Metaphor: Making Places with Information

Like building architects before them, information architects are creating the spaces in which people meet, transact, communicate, and learn. The spaces that IAs design are where many people will be spending a considerable part of their lives. A heady role!

This session will explore relationship between information and architecture, taking seriously the phrase “the design of information spaces”. You’ll learn how place-making works as a design methodology, the importance of context on the design of an information space, and how to explain the value of IA in architectural terms that clients and colleagues can understand more clearly.