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Exploring the information space

Category Archives: Review

We are the Architects (Euro IA 2013)

Any talk about information that kicks off with references to chaos theory is bound to be good. Lisa Welchman‘s opening keynote at EuroIA was just such a talk, and it didn’t stop with the chaos.

Summary:

We live in a society that has been permeated by digital communications. As key participants in this relatively new, but rapidly evolving, ecosystem, Information Architects need to be stepping up and leading. We are not passengers: we are the drivers who will shape the future. But it is not an easy world to navigate; not only do we lack a map – we are breaking the first trails – but the system is far from linear.

Much of the environment we are operating in is a legacy from the industrial age: big organisations with top-down hierarchies. These are not conducive to designing and implementing meaningful digital presences. The people tasked with crafting these things often sit at the lowest point of the organisation, minions responsible for avoiding failures, but without the authority to make decisions (and, obviously, never credited properly when things go right). But this organisation model is not where the industrial revolution started; when the individual artisan was replaced with larger enterprises, the first organisational charts were designed with lines of reporting and responsibility, empowering the individuals at the tips to make decisions because they were the experts, while the trunk managed overall strategic direction. The inversion of the model came about as a result of megalomania, and those running organisations based on this model clearly fear change – their power is at risk. Read more of this post

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Usable Usability (EuroIA 2013)

Kicking off EuroIA in Edinburgh, I attended Eric Reiss‘ workshop – really, as he admitted, a master class – on Usable Usability. The theme echoed his book of the same name, released last year.

Summary

Eric didn’t hold back with his class; it was heavy with information, ideas and practical approaches to improve usability; not by focusing on any specific, but largely by poking fun at the endless stream of counter-examples.

In all, usability is about people interacting with things. While it is easy to claim that usability stops at the point of “does it make the action achievable?” (whatever it is that is supposed to be done with it), the reality is that there is far more to something being considered usable. It is about the ease with which it can be used. Read more of this post

Content Strategy Applied 2012 in review

The two days (1-2 March 2012) are wrapped – it is time to take stock of the learnings that came of them.

CS AppliedIf I had to choose one word to sum up CSApplied2012, it would be intense: pretty much a non-stop roller-coaster of information and ideas; inspiration and levity. We managed such a flow of real-time tweeting that the event hashtag – #CSA12 – peaked into the top ten Twitter trending topics world-wide and draw the attention of the spam-bots. A quad-stream format meant there was more than enough content to keep anyone busy, and sometimes too many choices to make: does one go for the technical stream, or the localisation? It’s a hard life trying to take it all in.

As with my CS Forum write-up, I will go for recurring themes rather then a blow-by-blow account of the sessions I attended. Read more of this post

Content Strategy Forum 2011 in review

London, 5-7 Sept 2011, CS Forum came to London in its second incarnation. A lot of attendees (I couldn’t count) from 20+ countries descended on the Mermaid Centre (near Blackfriars). Talks, parties and workshops were the disorder of the day.

I am not going to try giving a talk-by-talk breakdown of what happened. With multiple streams, I couldn’t be everywhere at once. For an assortment of slides and published notes, see http://lanyrd.com/2011/csforum/coverage/. Instead, I’ll cover the general themes that came out of my own notes.

Content Strategy is bigger than that

Content Strategy is – in many people’s perception – a new field, especially when referred to within the digital realm. Eric Reiss (@elreiss), however, pointed out that content strategy has been around for just about as long as we have been communicating; the only people who seem to have trouble with implementing the concept are those on the digital bandwagon.

Lisa Welchman (@lwelchman) made the point that content isn’t a something in its own right. Content is everything (as in: everything is content). What you view as content in your particular situation, and the needs surrounding it, depend entirely on how that something-being-seen-as-content is described by those who own or deal with it.

Diana Railton (@dianarailton) demonstrated how content strategy is a pillar supporting communication strategy, which itself supports business strategy. A digital content strategy cannot be divorced from other parts of the communications agenda. Read more of this post