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Information architecture

Information architecture (IA) is the art of expressing a model or concept of information used in activities that require explicit details of complex systems. Among these activities are library systems, Content Management Systems, web development, user interactions, database development, programming, technical writing, enterprise architecture, and critical system software design. Information architecture has somewhat different meanings in these different branches of IS or IT architecture. Most definitions have common qualities: a structural design of shared environments, methods of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, and online communities, and ways of bringing the principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.

Historically the term "information architect" is attributed to Richard Saul Wurman. Wurman sees architecture as "used in the words architect of foreign policy. I mean architect as in the creating of systemic, structural, and orderly principles to make something work--the thoughtful making of either artifact, or idea, or policy that informs because it is clear."[1]


[edit] Definitions

The term information architecture describes a specialized skill set which relates to the interpretation of information and expression of distinctions between signs and systems of signs. It has some degree of origin in the library sciences. Many schools with library and information science departments teach information architecture.[2]

Information architecture is the categorization of information into a coherent structure, preferably one that the most people can understand quickly, if not inherently. It's usually hierarchical, but can have other structures, such as concentric or even chaotic. It has nothing to do with philosophy or semiotics.

In the context of information systems design, information architecture refers to the analysis and design of the data stored by information systems, concentrating on entities, their attributes, and their interrelationships. It refers to the modeling of data for an individual database and to the corporate data models an enterprise uses to coordinate the definition of data in several (perhaps scores or hundreds) of distinct databases. The "canonical data model" is applied to integration technologies as a definition for specific data passed between the systems of an enterprise. At a higher level of abstraction it may also refer to the definition of data stores.

[edit] I.A.I. definition

Information architecture is defined by the Information Architecture Institute as:

  1. The structural design of shared information environments.
  2. The art and science of organizing and labeling web sites, intranets, online communities, and software to support findability and usability.[3][4]
  3. An emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.

[edit] Critiques

  • The term Information Architecture has been criticized, as the term "architecture" is primarily used for habitable physical structures[citation needed] and implies that information systems are static like habitable physical structures or buildings. Information systems are "living systems", which frequently get updated, altered, and morphed, both by author and users. In some cases, information systems dynamically adapt to specific actions and context of users. Since the discipline of architecture ("habitable physical structures") increasingly uses materials and solutions that are less static, this criticism may be unjustified.
  • The term Information Architecture is indeed criticized. May be the famous philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was the first Information Architect when he explained the structure of his philosophy "The World as Will and Representation". "A system of thoughts should always have an architectonic cohesion", he states in the introduction, "every thought should support the other, but not vice versa. Every separate thought, although it may be very extensive, should remain a perfect entity". His thoughts are written down in paragraphs and chapters and four books, in every book he sometimes describes the same issues in a different context. In fact this may be the first information architecture. We may conclude that "architecture" is not only reserved for "habitable physical structures or buildings".
  • User-Centered Information Designers analyze cognitive, behavioral, and emotional processes of users and define User-Centered Information Systems and taxonomies. Furthermore, some activities involved in the creation of information systems can be similar to activities involved in the creation of taxonomies. Some have suggested that the term information architecture is analogous with taxonomy.[citation needed] Others contend that the activities involved in the creation of a taxonomy are a subset of the activities involved in developing an information architecture, since this typically also involves articulating the objectives of the information, and understanding the intended audience.[5] Some practicing information architects specialize in developing taxonomies, as part of their IA "toolkit," along with deliverables like site maps, flow diagrams, and screen-level design prototypes to represent the structure of a Web site or interactive application.
  • With the ever increasing integration of applications within the enterprise, neither websites nor corporate data models and master data systems can any longer be considered in isolation. Information Architecture will be challenged to evolve to include the entire spectrum of both structured and unstructured data, ranging from transactional systems to ad hoc usage.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ R.S. Wurman: "Information Architects"
  2. ^ IAinstitute.org, Schools Teaching IA
  3. ^ âWhat is IA?â Information Architecture Institute. IAinstitute.org
  4. ^ "Information architecture for the World Wide Web" by Peter Morville & Louis Rosenfeld. OâReilly, 2006.
  5. ^ âUnderstanding information taxonomy helps build better appsâ Techrepublic.com

[edit] External links

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