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Archive for December, 2008

Letter to the IA community

One of things I volunteered to do as soon as I re-joined the IAI board was to write a letter that goes out to members with the monthly newsletter.

I procrastinated for 2 weeks to write it because I was trying to understand a problem and it was just not happening. I think I finally came to terms with it.

Hello fellow practitioners!

In the past 60 days I had the opportunity to take a closer look at the IA Institute and observe how it operates, recognize where some opportunities are and identify some of the challenges that we need to vercome.

It was a very edifying process, but a gruesome activity. Did you know our websites and service run on 26 different Movable Type blogs (version from 2004)? Me neither. It’s magic what our volunteers were able to accomplish by hacking and patching that system; mad mad skills, I tell you.

Apart from technical marvels, that discovery process allowed me to think about what the Institute means to me and what it can mean to us in the future.

In recent years I had become more distant from the Institute and also noticed that many of my peers become more detached and less involved with the activities associated with it. I wondered what that meant.

This November was the 6th anniversary of the IAI. I was disappointed that we as a community didn’t remember or see the need to celebrate. That’s when I understood why I had drifted away myself: I just didn’t recognize the Institute as the face of our community of practice anymore.

Thinking about this I re-visited and was immediately reminded of where we came from. That was a time when our community was blooming with energy and we were screaming for action. Very talented and dedicated people came together, and out of that desire to evolve our practice, to raise awareness and understanding for what we do and to help move our profession forward, created a thriving international organization that brought our community together.

There was a strong vision from the get-go and progress was palpable. At any time I was involved, whether it was translating an article, mentoring a new professional or helping out during a local event, I knew I was making a difference in our community. It was a pleasure to spend the time and see others contributing as well.

Over the years, we have collectively established ourselves as practitioners and, along with our careers and the paths we have chosen, our needs have evolved. Many have drifted apart because they don’t feel the Institute is supporting their individual needs anymore. Others still feel great affinity for what the Institute represents to (and for) this community and continue to be involved and volunteer.

Today we have a great opportunity and an even bigger challenge. We can turn this organization into exactly what we need it to be. And not only for our current set of circumstances, but also for the future. We have matured along with our practice and we need an organization that can continue to support a mature and growing practice while helping a new generation of practitioners join the job market.

Let’s make the Information Architecture Institute the place that connects the legacy of our community and our professional future. Speak out now: What do you need? What do you want? How can you help? How can you be helped?

We must understand what our collective needs are in order to continue to build an organization that is relevant and sustainable. The Institute exists to provide infrastructure and build bridges across and beyond our community. Use those assets; tell the Institute what you need that isn’t there today. Let’s ensure the energy and resources from the Institute are used towards the things that really matter to you.

You can use the discussion list (1), our website (2), Twitter (3), our Get Satisfaction engine (4), Facebook (5), LinkedIn (6), talk to your peers and colleagues, your friends and family. Let’s have this conversation and figure it out together.

I am very excited about what we will accomplish in the next year and I most certainly expect you to participate and make the IA Institute work for you.

Happy holidays,

Livia Labate
Director of Getting Things Done
The Information Architecture Institute


Spam out of control!

I thought getting unsolicited mail was bad, then emails were invented and SPAM was born, then blogs were invented and with them came SPAM comments. Is there an end to this? No, of course, now I have voicemail spam!

Since I listed my number of my profile it’s been receiving the most ridiculous calls. Like the one above. Where do we go from here?

Building the Wall of Deliverables

During the last IA Summit, Jacco Nieuwland, Nathan Curtis and myself organized the first Wall of Deliverables, a display area dedicated to documentation and tools used to convey and articulate the work that we do as UX professionals.

Milling around the wall of deliverables by Pryanka Kakar

Check out more photos from the Wall of Deliverables.

We had a great crowd viewing and discussing the displayed deliverables all through the summit, thanks to a bunch of people who took the time to submit an entry. We were very satisfied with the results and received a lot of valuable feedback, so of course, we are doing it again!

To give you a sense of what it takes to make it happen, we’ve had two planning meetings so far where we discuss lessons learned and reviewed all feedback in detail, then started planning what steps need to be taken to set it up next Summit.

We have to figure out what kind of space we are dealing with (determined by the IA Summit organizers) so we can design the best walk-through flow and allow for people to hang out and discuss. We learned from last years that having to squat and squint was not the best thing for the deliverables that were hanging low on the wall, so we’re trying to get more horizontal space to ensure easy access and allow the deliverables to be more spread out.

Untitled by Maria Cordell

We also learned that our entry form was taking more space than it needed and not helping convey as much as we wanted, so we’re picking more appropriate fields and designing is so that it’s legible and so that you can see the submission number from space.

The voting process was pretty smooth last year and the feedback indicated people were very satisfied with the prizes, but we’re looking into new options to make things fresh. If you’d like to sponsor, drop me a note!

Wall of Deliverables

One of the most effort intensive aspects of this initiative is to spend time hanging out around the Wall, helping contributors include their deliverables and answer questions from the crowd. Last year we conveniently placed a printer right there, but we really want to encourage people to submit and print in advance next time. It still is a lot of effort so if you would like to volunteer 30 minutes of your time to help facilitate, let me know!

We are toying around with some other very exciting ideas that I was planning on writing down on this post but that I just realize it will be much more fun if they are a surprise, so I’ll just leave it at that!

Nathan, Jacco and I will start broadcasting to the various UX outlets that you can submit deliverables as soon as we have our first to-dos out of the way, particularly coordinating with the IA Summit committee about how the Wall of Deliverables will be part of the program and how we’ll make people aware of what’s going on throughout the event.

If you have ideas, suggestions and comments, please let us know!