IA Summit

I spent the weekend at the IA Summit. I’m not an IA but I play one on tv. Seriously, IA (Information Architecture) is kind of a side interest and certainly something that can be useful in my line of work. Wouldn’t have flown somewhere to attend but since it was being held here in Montreal and quite a few of the guys who’s work I follow and respect, it was too good to pass up.

I didn’t take a whole lot of notes, expecting to get most of the slides from the website and presenters as well as from other attendees. From my list of feeds Seb is the first to come through with what looks like excellent runthroughs, I haven’t read through them yet but you should have a look. Since we attended a lot of the same sessions, it’s a good idea of what I heard over the weekend.

  • BJ Fogg’s keynote was pretty interesting and covered quite a bit of ground. I loved his Control-Z example.
  • Sorting out social classification was one of the sessions that convinced me to attend, in part to hear Stewart Butterfield, Petermo and Peterme, Stewart didn’t make it (completing a deal with a company that starts with a Y?) but the others delivered and it was one of the good ones over the weekend.
  • Content Genres – The hidden workhorse of information architecture was a solo by Peter Merholz who proved to be an excellent speaker which I’ll talk about more a bit further down.
  • Information Architecture for the info cloud was presented by Thomas Vander Wal who, among other things, coined the term Folksonomies.

    A few things I noticed: A much more “normal” split between women and men, I’d guess almost half an half which is good.

    I didn’t learn much but thought quite a bit, re-ordered stuff in my head and started thinking in new directions.

    I’ve read in a few places and heard a couple of times at the conference that Adaptive Path gets too much play, takes too much space. Concerning Peterme’s “genres” talk for one, I heard from a couple of librarians (big representation amongst IAs) that they were already using something similar and that he was “just renaming it”. True.

    But once you’ve heard a bunch of speakers throughout the weekend you realize why they get so much play; they’re way more interesting! Much more engaging, they speak so everyone ears them, have good visual support with their slides and know their subject, and the web in general, through and through. It’s no wonder it’s their stuff people remember and talk about afterwards.

    Out of the speakers I saw, Peter Morville was the only guy at the same level and Brett Lider is getting there. I’m not saying they know more than the others, Thomas for one knows a lot of stuff and makes a lot of good points but the AP guys are more fluid in their presentations and so have a bigger impact. A bit on the social aspect in the next few days.


Brett Lider March 8, 2005

Considering how little I get out to present, I take this as a big, big complement. I will diligently work on polishing my material and my presentation style! Thanks for this post.

Patrick March 9, 2005

My pleasure. We actually discussed some of your stuff at another meeting :)

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