Thursday, March 26, 2009

More about the IA Summit - #ias09

I recently attended the Information Architecture Summit 2009 in Memphis. As a research and analysis geek, I was interested to learn a little more about how folks contributed to and shared about the event. This group loves to twitter, briefly appearing on its' Top Ten list during the nexus of the conference.

#ias09 is the twitter hashtag for the Summit. (Ironically, the official hashtag was IAS2009 but it never caught on because it was "too long" to type in repeatedly. Funny how the masses can overrule official decisions. I'm sure there's some analysis in that as well).

I went on to ManyEyes and uploaded some data. Here it is:

This represents all tweets with #ias09 from the beginning up until 3/25/09 that appear on

Is it comprehensive? I copied all #ias09 entries that showed up there.

Is it reliable? I don't know... is twitterscan reliable? Maybe the masses can comment on that.

Is it interesting? I think so! But I'm a data geek. For example. "@whitneyhess" is the most common term here. "@whitneyhess" means that her's was the most reffered to twitter handle associated with #IAS09. This is different from "whitneyhess", which would mean that she was the most frequent twitterer for #ias09. That honor goes to @bnunnally.

Even more interesting is that "whitneyhessing" is now a verb. As in "mediajunkie: @bnunnally Thanks for whitneyhessing this talk!..."

Here is some artwork from It's the same data, in a prettier format.
Words can clue us in to many things. I like to call them the keyhole to the mind, as they literally show underlying constructs and themes to how we approach and think about things. We don't often realize this, or take advantage of it, but when we notice it, we get some powerful input!

Many Eyes - Data viz tool for the masses - word art
Information Architecture Summit

Monday, March 23, 2009

The feast of an inspiring conference

I've just returned from a professional conference at the Information Architecture Summit 2009 (#ias09). Now, my head is bursting with possiblities of what might be next, but I must get back to the regular diet of everyday work, incorporating what I've learned:

1. It helps to have a blog and twitter, according to Whitney Hess.
2. We are all User Experience Designers (we used to call ourselves Information Architects).
3. Working as a consultant is risky, demanding, and liberating.
4. Cindy Chastain is an awesome presenter.
5. Storytelling has a lot to teach information architects. (See more)
6. Ducks can be trained to march in a line to and from the lobby fountain at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.
7. IA's have something to learn from slime molds, according to Kate Rutter.

The next anticipated banquet will be the IAI's IDEA Conference. It's inspirational from my brain all the way down to my toes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Learning Information Architecture from a First Grader

I was surprised to learn that my first grader's class is learning some of the tools I use in my practice as an information architect.

I call them concept maps. His teacher calls them "thinking maps". This one is a concept map of fruit, including apples and bananas. (Note that "fruit" may appear to read "fryit" to someone untrained in reading first grade writing.) I knew that apples are round, but this map teaches me that bananas are "moon shaped". I was surprised to learn that an important aspect of both apples and bananas is that they both have peels, but you can eat apple peel and not banana peel. I doubt I would have included that on my concept map of fruit.

Last fall, IAs spent a lot of money to go to a conference to learn how to do exactly this type of thing. Who knew they could have just learned it from the nearest 6 year old!

I plan to develop my professional skills further by visiting the first grade classroom more often!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Advice For Parents of TeeBall Players

It's little league season again. This will be our 4th year. (Where does the time go?) Another few months of spending a lot of time outside in the beautiful California weather, running to practices and games, trying to fit a hurried meal into an even busier schedule.

It also reminds me of some of the best advice I ever got from a coach. It was our first year, and my son had entered teeball for the first time. He was perfectly adorable in his new uniform, with matching jersey, belt, socks and hat (aawww). Just before our first game, the coach sent an email to all of the parents. I still remember his words.

Please do not get upset or embarrassed if your child’s attention constantly shifts during the games and/or practice. If you have never done TeeBall before, each game is 60-90 minutes of trying to get all the kids to pay attention.... Most of the kids on our team have never played TeeBall before.... It will take some time for them to get used to our routine.

It is normal for the kids to look around, pick grass, get distracted, wander around the field and so on. We’ll just gently try to round them up and try and get them to pay attention. Remember... we want them to have fun....

It's true. They wander, play in the dirt, look at bugs and dig holes. As long as you expect it, it can be funny to watch. For all parents of teeball players, just remember, it's important to have fun.