SIGIA-L Mail Archives: SIGIA-L: About Information Architecture
SIGIA-L: About Information Architecture
From: Paula Thornton (paula.thornton_at_prodigy.net)
Date: Tue Jun 19 2001 - 18:40:46 EDT
James Wrote: "I can arrange things for later retrieval (in various ways)
without knowing my audience. In libraries, we've been doing this for a long
Perhaps that's why I buy books from Amazon rather than go to libraries.
Libraries have always been a horrible "experience" for me, as are most sites
that are designed by individuals who don't find out about the visitors, and
aren't designed with feedback loops to evolve as the visitors' needs evolve.
We do not try to understand people to divine exactly what they want (since
sometimes they're not quite sure). We have to know enough about what they
might want to accomplish and make sure that our designs don't get in their
way. [BTW, cookies are a very crude, rudimentary form of feedback. Relying
on them exclusively, is a sophomoric approach. Real feedback is letting
visitors give you both barrels when you've really gotten in their way and
they want to let you know it. If it weren't for feedback systems, you
wouldn't know when you smashed your hand in the car door, and later wondered
why it was turning blue and green..., but blue and green are feedback
mechanisms, as well]
The basic tenets of library science evolved during the era of mechanized
thinking (machine models): successful design is a "static" system requiring
little change. Something that achieves this stasis is functionally "dead".
Systems engineering methods also evolved during this time. Functional
changes, even those resulting from design flaws were still often captured in
"bug" reports. Systems were rolled out and then moved into "maintenance".
When is a human being "completed" and moved into "maintenance"?
The problem with the output of mechanistic methodologies is that they assume
that the recipients/actors will "conform" to the resulting system. The
tenets of the natural model operate on concepts of adaptation and continuous
improvement. As opposed to "command and control" we now support "autonomy".
I'm sure that you support the autonomy of your wife and son by knowing when
and how to get out of their way or when and how to assist them. Otherwise
you'd suffer their indignant "wrath". Thus should be the destiny of every
designer who refuses to consider the recipient of their efforts.
Our role is facilitator not autocrat.
Paula Thornton, Interaction Design Strategist
Thus the task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen,
but to think what nobody yet has thought
about that which everybody sees ~ Schopenhauer
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