I just received an e-mail to notify me that I was not elected to the Information Architecture Institute’s board of directors. While I am disappointed that I won’t be able to represent the IAI in an official capacity and help them to reach a new generation of IA practitioners, I’ll still keep fighting the good fight on my own. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the four new directors — Livia Labate, Andrew Hinton, Christian Crumlish and Russ Unger — and I know they will do a wonderful job bringing greater awareness and structure to the organization and the practice.
Congrats guys, and be sure to let me know how I can help!
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Samantha LeVan says
I absolutely know you'll still make an impact with or without board status. You've got drive and initiative, on top of talent, and amazing people skills. Keep running and you'll get what you want.
Thanks, Whitney. We absolutely need your help and I think your focus on engaging the newer generation of practitioners is desperately important. Please let me know how I can help you to get further involved.
Somewhat disappointed by this post and your earlier tweet, both of which seemed somewhat uncharacteristically self-centered. Why do you need to be on the board to make a difference? Why do you need to be invited by the board to help? If you really want to help the IAI to reach the new generation of IA practitioners, get on with it – and maybe next year you will be rewarded with a place on the board for your efforts. Here endeth the sermon.
Whitney Hess says
Lee, I'm sorry if my disappointment in not being elected to the board came across as self-centered. I have total faith in those who were elected and know that we'll see great changes in the organization. But I never would have ran if I didn't think that being a board member would have provided me with a greater opportunity to make a difference. I recognize that there is still plenty that I can do to encourage younger professionals to do great work, get involved in our community, and evangelize the value of IA. But it's a lot harder to convince people to be affiliated with an organization when they don't feel that they have a voice on the board of directors. Many of my peers have told me that they think the IAI is outdated and don't feel that it's worthwhile to belong. How do you suggest I begin to convince them otherwise? I am hoping that openIAI lives beyond a campaign platform and remains thoroughly open, promoting discussion about the organization and practice. This is a good first step. But I'm also hoping that someone on the new board will be willing to focus their efforts on reaching out to young practitioners who are in serious need of work reviews, career guidance and general mentorship. The curreent mentoring program is broken and needs some serious attention. So no, this isn't about me. It's about what I want to see done to help the new generation of folks who are afraid to call themselves an IA. I know because I'm one of them.
I don't think it's self centered to confess to feelings of disappointment. It's totally normal.
Whitney it sounds like you've identified a key program that needs work: mentorship.
How the institute does (and can better) offer this service to up-and-coming user experience designers (potentially)interested in IA, regardless of title or professional identity, relates directly to the concerns you expressed above.
Let's talk about what's broken with the mentoring program and how to fix it!
Whitney Hess says
Not only mentoring, but outreach. I can't tell you how many people I talk to who have never even heard of the IAI and they are practicing information architects, interaction designers, user experience designers, copywriters, etc. I think many of us tend to think of the community of practice as the folks we know, the familiar faces we see at conferences and on Twitter and writing on the d-lists. But in all honesty there's a much larger group of people practicing the craft who have zero involvement in any professional organizations, don't read the blogs and don't even know where to start when they decide they want to be more involved and more visible. The IAI, IxDA, UPA, etc needs to do a considerably better job in reaching out to the unaffiliated practitioners, particularly those early on in their careers, and encourage them and guide them to participate.