Information Architecture Schools of Thought – Beta
February 3, 2013
The DSIA Research Initiative is making part of it’s IA Schools of Thought research available as a free beta release. Despite its “beta” status, this release offers extensive information and insight into the evolution of Web-based IA framing that has become relevant within the past 15 years. Created by Nathaniel Davis, curator of the DSIA Portal of Information Architecture, this beta release does not include commentary, so you’ll have to come to your own conclusions for now. However, methodology and a few highlights are shared in this post.
The criteria was simple. The research captured unique Web IA practice definitions and related concepts that have given shape to the industry. Works are cited because they have persisted and are actively endorsed, practiced or developed as an area of research and theoretical inquiry.
One or two blog posts don’t cut it. To make the list, contributors must demonstrate a commitment to their ideas, publish and continue to advance and provoke inquiry in the practice of information architecture in a formal context. There is a section on the poster that helps to show a contributor’s string of related works by graphically plotting corresponding publication dates.
Who Made the List?
As you might expect, the timeline for the research begins in 1998 with the first book dedicated to information architecture practice, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, written by Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville. Rosenfeld and Morville, who remain active in the field, leave a respectable footprint across the IA framing landscape. However, their work is matched by a motivated group of contributing framers and honorable mentions.
Contributing framers fully meet the criteria of original IA framing and support of said framing. Honorable mentions are individuals who have produced a significant work that relates to the particular framing of a contributing framer.
Coming to Conclusions
The commentary portion of this research is still in progress. However, if there is a single thread to what has been learned, it’s that the practice of information architecture may never possess a singular definition. Why? Because we are left to practice it however we choose? But, that doesn’t mean we must accept anarchy.
We can actually understand the range of approaches of information architecture practice by way of popular definitions. That’s what this research explores and, in doing so, further supports a running hypothesis of two schools of thought. A fascinating discovery of this research is that schools of thought have branches and sub-branches!
What’s Next? Beyond the Beta.
As a beta this poster is open for refinement. Your constructive comments are welcome.
The beta version will always remain free to the public. The official release, on the other hand, will include extensive commentary and have the complete set of references for readers who wish to explore this subject in greater detail. The official version will be available at a nominal fee (under 5 bucks).
In the end, this research and its analysis are meant to be a light and informative educational resource for newcomers and seasoned practitioners who wish to possess a greater understanding of information architecture as a diverse and evolving field of practice.
Download and explore the IA Schools of Thought poster today and let us know what you think?
Return to DSIA Portal of Information Architecture