In a Thursday morning keynote at the MySQL Users Conference 2005, Google's Adam Bosworth advocated an open model for data. Although he was not referring to open source, he expanded upon the example by explaining that customers like open source software because of the transparency.
The 2008 IA Summit was held April 10–14, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Miami, Florida, shown in Figure 1. It had the highest attendance in the conference’s nine-year history: Over 600 people signed up for the conference run by ASIS&T (American Society for Information Science and Technology). All the signs are that information architecture (IA) is a community and a practice that is growing, and that its sister disciplines—interaction design (IxD) and experience design—are well-represented at the conference—not just in terms of attendees, but also speakers.
I started The Myths of Innovation in a positive frame of mind, generated by my interest in the topic (and the excitement of seeing my photos in print). I ended the book similarly enthusiastic. While it isn't a long read (I started in Cambridge and finished before I touched down in Los Angeles), good books don't need a lot of words to make their point. Scott Berkun clearly presents his arguments, demolishing many of the misconception about innovation. For those of us running businesses or developing new products, it's a must-read.
Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction is cunningly released at a time when acceptance of Interaction Design as a discipline is reaching a critical mass. The book precipitates a huge turn in the creation of interactive technologies toward the more research/creative or human-centric model, approaching the subject of this change from different angles and illuminating historical insights.
Sometimes first impressions are a great way to gauge the likelihood of a successful experience. This wasn't one of those times. I was deeply concerned that I'd signed myself up for some esoteric discussion on the proper use of metadata, but pleasantly surprised to find a real-world interface solution for dealing with large information collections--exactly what the summary said this course would cover.
What strategies has society employed to collect, manage, and store information, even with the constant threat of oversupply, and still make this information accessible and meaningful to people over time?
In this column, you'll find an overview of three IA books from a deliverables point of view. The purpose of this article is not to say whether one book is better than another, or even to comment on the overall quality of the books, but to provide a guide to what kind of deliverables information you can find in each book, and where.
Despite the plethora of books positioning Extensible Markup Language (XML) as the next software programming language for IT gurus to master, the XML specification is not a programming language. Instead, it is a set of strategically important data standards that, when implemented from a tactical point of view, can provide organizations with value unsurpassed by many of the technologies that have come before it.
While there are many fine books that go into great depth on various aspects of the information architecture and design process, 'Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web' is, essentially, a primer on successful website design.
Stephen Few's Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data defines the state-of-the-art of information dashboard design. Few, who is an expert in data visualization for the communication and analysis of quantitative business information has provided a complete, practical, and illuminating guide to dashboard design. If you are designing front-ends for executive information systems for Business Performance Management (BPM) or for monitoring and analyzing the performance of sales, marketing, or information systems, Information Dashboard Design provides all you need to know to ensure your dashboards communicate efficiently and effectively.
Managing Data Mining Technologies in Organizations: Techniques and Applications is rich in information and should be of great interest to its intended audience of academics and professionals who are knowledgeable about data mining. The book's price and highly technical nature will likely keep those merely curious about data mining from actually purchasing it, but should you need facts on data mining for one of your documentation projects, a library copy may provide just the information you need.
When we are trying to envision the structure of a Web site, we may sketch diagrams on white boards, create outlines, fill whole walls with yellow stickies. Kahn and Lenk offer many sophisticated ways of visualizing your site. If you are planning a new site or reorganizing an existing site, this book provides an historical context for your information architecture, in-depth studies of complex sites, and a wide range of inspiring diagrams and site maps.
Carolyn Snyder's Paper Prototyping: The Fast and Easy Way to Design and Refine User Interfaces provides the only complete guide to paper prototyping. It teaches you everything you need to know to successfully do paper prototyping and offers many practical tips. However, only about a third of the book is actually about doing paper prototyping. The majority of the book's content comprises a basic reference on usability testing. While some of the information on usability testing describes how to test paper prototypes, most of it is applicable to any type of usability testing. If you're already an expert in usability testing, you may not find this information as useful, but Snyder has honed her approach to usability testing over her many years of experience as a usability professional and provides a wealth of practical information.
'Small Pieces Loosely Joined' is touted on the cover as 'A Unified Theory of the Web.' But its author, David Weinberger, knows better. And he says as much in the book. It's a unified theory, but not the kind you sum up in a tidy little equation.
Before I begin the official review of this work, let me briefly suspend all scholarly analysis and say this: Trees, Maps, and Theorems: Effective Communication for Rational Minds is an awesome book. All technical communication practitioners and professors should own a copy.
New Web 2.0 interaction design can offer a lot of new suggestions for easier interactions, good use of white space and other glaring design solutions to the typically very busy space of information architecture. But, if you practice IA well, including some new Web 2.0 techniques, you can begin to create mental space as well as white space. Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design, a new New Riders book by Robert Hoekman, Jr., is a great place to find out how much mental space can be offered by your systems.