IA Summit 2008 Closing Plenary: “Linkosophy” by Andrew Hinton

Much, much, MUCH overdue is the recap of Andrew Hinton‘s closing plenary titled “Linkosophy” at this year’s IA Summit.

Andrew’s talk, equal parts intellectualism and practicality, was just what our field has been hungry for. Andrew is a uniter, not a divider, and I greatly appreciated the plain, honest tone he used when he told our community that it’s time to grow up. My (mostly) unedited Twitter notes are below.

  • “Linkosophy: that’s a really ugly word. It’s homely and hard to say. But other ones were taken. I Googled it. It wasn’t there”
  • Conversation, practice, space, structure, identity
  • The internet in 60 seconds: computer as isolated, structured system. Determined by admins and inherited hierarchy.
  • Arcane commands, deep technical savvy needed to operate it. Focused on science, academics.
  • In the 90s web came along and savvy folks could link across contexts. Open permissions. Then it become visual: Mosaic browser
  • Infinite links creates a layer than obscures the structure of the system. Wow that’s a smart way of saying it
  • “To illustrate key differences between order and organic structures, we’re gonna talk about assault rifles.”
  • M-19 is diva of assault rifles. Only supposed to be used by those highly trained. While AK-47 is inexpensive and simple
  • It’s so easy and open, the AK-47 kills 250,000 people a year. Obviously people like it! “Latent emergence”
  • The web is like the AK-47. Encyclopedia Britannica is like the M-16, structured, serial
  • Just like the cathedral and the bazaar. The lecture hall and the pub. Both are necessary for the other
  • Legal drinking age should have remained at 18 because people learn more when they’re out drinking and discussing
  • “Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about.”
  • “Information is there in service of conversation, not the other way around.”
  • “The Web turned the internet into a sort of culture acceleration device for human beings”
  • We need things to be shaped for us so that they are capable of being consumed. Like drinking from a fire hose — impossible
  • We needed a way to shape context and connection for the Web. “What happens between pages and not just on them”
  • “Community of practice” Coalescing around a shared concern
  • “Practice is a shared history of learning” — Etienne Wenger
  • Community of practice is dynamic, shifting. Members come in & out. Domain shifts. Attracts outsiders, people in other practices
  • We think we have exclusive ownership of our practices and are suspicious of connections. We’re comfortable in the silo
  • IA is just one facet of the user experience practice. UX is a meta-practice.
  • UX is like Ben & Jerry’s chunky monkey…all mixed up
  • Representation vs. Instantiation. Map of Tokyo subway system vs. photo in the Tokyo subway system.
  • Maps are only representations. Not reality. Can’t push them too far.
  • Richard Saul Wurman, coined the term IA as “someone who enables data to be transformed into understandable information”
  • The web connected the representation to the instantiation. Google Maps is a great example. Map to street view
  • Start designing how people move from one room to the next.
  • New forms of space require new forms of architecture. New forms of …… shit I missed it!
  • The [Polar Bear] book will be strongly flavored with an information science and librarianship perspective — Louis Rosenfeld
  • “Everything is Miscellaneous” by David Weinberger. 3 orders of order: first order (bookshelf), second order (card catalog), third order (web — non-centralized, messy aggregation)
  • Third order means that not everything will be found.
  • IA practitioners in 2006 crapping their pants because Flickr taggers ate their job
  • Tag Wars!!
  • “The design of the mechanism that itself allows the transformation of the structure is in fact the architecture.” Amen!
  • “Every tag is a bookshelf”
  • “We are not there to make meaning for our users. We are there to allow our users to make meaning for themselves”
  • Rules are a reality. For example, Flickr give us ability change to access permissions, editing rights, algorithmic context 02:54
  • We need to design the rules. We’re integrating democracy into our systems but democracy is not w/o rules. Operates because of them
  • Wake up, world. Andrew is redefining IA in this very moment.
  • We need to identify with a practice — reification.
  • Our publications and organizations are the banners we wave to show our identities
  • IA as a: thing (the designed stuff), activity (the work of designing), role (hat of the one doing the activity)… 02:59
  • IA as a: practice (shared history of learning among those in this role)
  • IA title (a label one can be called, whether or not their work has anything to do with the thing, practice, activity or role)
  • Title is bullshit. Someone put it on you and it doesn’t define what you do. Let go of it. — Crowd goes wild!
  • Practice eventually seeks a sense of legitimacy with outside world of standards…grows into a Discipline
  • Discipline: establish standards, definitions and curricula, planned from the top down
  • Am I the only one getting chills?
  • “I’m really gonna stick my foot in it now. Lots of talk about interaction design. Lots of overlap in our communities…”
  • ID is chiefly about how an object interfaces in a context. IA’s concern is how to shape the connections between contexts.
  • These are “centers of concern” for the Practice. Not silos and not limits on people!!!
  • Big IA vs. Little IA not a useful distinction anymore. Big ID too broad. Little IA is too demeaning. Instead: micro & macro
  • “The web isn’t so much a technology anymore as a way of being. It’s soaking into the pores of our physical lives”
  • “One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real”–William Gibson
  • Andrew and his 12-year-old daughter hang out on Club Penguin. Their virtual relationship is very real
  • Standing O for Andrew. Oww oww!

Check out the slides below:

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