What is information architecture? Is it an art, a science, or a craft? Who should do this work? What qualifications are required? These are the philosophical questions we grapple with as a community of information architects. We write articles and publish books. We debate on discussion lists and argue passionately at conferences. We pull out our hair. We lose sleep. This is serious stuff.
And yet, independent of our intellectual theories and existential agonies, something very powerful is taking place. We are being surrounded, quite literally, by information architecture.
Have you ever walked through Times Square in New York City at night? It’s quite a spectacle. You’re on the corner of 42nd and Broadway. The glassy facades of buildings are pulsing with real-time information, courtesy of the latest in flat-panel display and projection technologies. Business news, financial data, corporate logos, and URLs are lit up in neon. Taxicabs sport billboards on their roofs as they honk their way through traffic. Pedestrians (or shall we say “users”) hustle past one another, chattering into their cell phones or stopping on the corner to check email or get directions on their wireless PDAs. This is William Gibson’s cyberspace turned inside out, physical architecture meets information architecture, a world of content, labels, and metadata all competing for your attention.
And that’s nothing compared to the real cyberspace, a new reality where ...