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RE: Information Architecture seems quite similar to Technical Writing
Subject:RE: Information Architecture seems quite similar to Technical Writing From:<mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com> To:"'Janoff, Steven'" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com>, "'TechWhirl'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> Date:Tue, 16 Feb 2016 15:57:30 -0500
Steve, that's an interesting question. I think the simplest answer might be
that an Enterprise Content Management system *has* an Information
Architecture (or that it should have one).
Enterprise content management does not seem to imply anything about the
relationship between pieces of content. The enterprise has a whack of
content and we need something to manage it.
Information architecture seems to imply more of a relationship between
content. But what sort of relationship? What is the relationship based on?
How is it created and managed?
That could be as simple as a cataloguing scheme. (Is the Dewey Decimal
system and information architecture?) It could also be type based. Some
people want to define all the types of information in an organization, and
map them to a metamodel that tells you how types are related to each other.
Some want to map content into ontologies to attempt to define their subject
matter and terminology in precise computable ways.
For my part, I am interested in bottom-up information architecture. I
believe that no top-down organizing scheme scales well to the size and
complexity of modern information sets and that we have to look at
information architecture in terms of people arriving at content via search
and navigating onwards via links in the content. In other words, the
architecture is in the content itself.
This is a vision that is more about hypertext than content management. I
take hypertext and content management to be two competing visions of
information architecture. That's an oversimplification, of course. But
sometimes we have to oversimply a distinction as a first step to showing
that it exists: http://everypageispageone.com/2015/06/15/the-war-between-content-management-
From: Janoff, Steven [mailto:Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 3:20 PM
To: 'TechWhirl'; mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com
Subject: RE: Information Architecture seems quite similar to Technical
How would you distinguish between the terms "Enterprise Content Management"
and "Information Architecture" when considering an enterprise-wide content
collection? What is the operation/role of each?
I suspect IA has more intelligence behind it and more of a goal of
structuring toward ease of accessibility. Sort of like creating a
MyCompanyWikipedia. Is ECM just about storage?
On Sunday, February 14, 2016 9:46 AM, mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com wrote:
What it should be, though, is neither of these things. In the paper world,
authors were responsible for the organization and connectivity of
information within a book and librarians were responsible for finding books
on shelves. No one was responsible for the overall organization and
connectivity of an organization's information as a whole because there was
not effective technological means to organize and connect that much
information into an integrated and navigable whole.
In the digital world, the technological means exists, and reader's
expectations have changed to expect that kind of integration and
connectivity and the one-stop information shopping that comes with it.
Unfortunately, our authoring processes and tools, and our traditions of
information design, have not kept up and largely do not fit with that model.
Information architecture should be about changing all that. What we see too
often though is that people create the job title but don't change their
tools or their design habits to match. Many of the tool changes that people
are making today are more about doing the old thing for less money than
about doing the new thing. All of which, I think, contributes to a lack of
clarity about what the role of an information architect is or should be.
In short, it is not enough to give someone the title of information
architect. You actually need to build an information architecture. But what
many organizations are building is not an information architecture, but a
content assembly line.
From: On Behalf Of David Farbey
Sent: Sunday, February 14, 2016 9:37 AM
To: TechWhirl (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)
Subject: Re: Information Architecture seems quite similar to Technical
While I've seen Information Architect used as a synonym for the sort of
planning work that a senior tech writer or a doc manager may do, I have also
seen it used for the job of designing data structures and other back-end
features of web sites and systems.
I've also noticed that information architects appear to be better paid than