It’s my pleasure to announce the recent first appearance of Information Architecture in two very different and most unexpected places.
The first is in leading policy journal Foreign Affairs, where the term is mentioned in a letter to the Editor by David Hoffman, President of Internews in the July / August 2003 issue. Why is it important that IA appear in a policy journal? Foreign Affairs is legitimately one of the most influential publications in the world, in that it constitutes a (nominally — decide for yourself as always) non-partisan and public forum for current and former world leaders, leading political theorists, and active members of major government and non-government organizations to discuss, debate, and decide national and international policy. Fro example, while many people both in America and abroad were taken by surprise when President Bush announced his administration’s doctrine of pre-emptive strikes against potentially threatening countries, readers of Foreign Affairs would have seen Condoleeza Rice outline her vision of the new American world order in some detail during the campaign — before Bush was elected, and she assumed the role of National Security Advisor. Hoffman’s use of the term information architecture (pg. 210) is broadly inclusive — he says, “Iraq now faces many challenges, among them to rebuild a credible information architecture and to train a new generation of journalists who can report fairly, objectively, and independently on that society.” — and the nature of his organization as in Internet-based free media project means it is less remarkable that he would employ the term than someone outside the Internet community like Madeline Albright, but it is nonetheless significant that IA is now seen as critical in a political context. Too often we focus on the business, academic, or even aesthetic contexts of IA. Yet if Information Architecture is to be as genuinely relevant a field as I suspect a majority of we who are its practitioners believe it capable of being in the very near future, then we must adovcate for it’s visibility and efficacy on the political level.
The second noteworthy appearance is in my home town of Canton, Ohio, in the form of a listing on Monster.com seeking candidates for a full time job opening inside a local advertising agency. Canton is a medium-sized (population 90k) predominantly blue-collar former heavy manufacturing center known for two things; the Professional Football Hall of Fame, and a remarkably low cost of living (for example, a full 62% lower than Newton, MA, where I’m renting at the moment, according to the salary calculator available on Monster.com). The former means that for the one week each year preceding the induction of new members into the Hall of Fame, Canton becomes the capital of the professional football universe. The latter means that the suburbs north of Canton have become a rapidly growning bedroom community for upper middle class commuters working in the Akron and even Cleveland metro areas. By industry base, demographics, geography, and culture, Canton is quite literally the last place that I ever expected see a posting for an Information Architect’s position. And yet there it is: consequence of the fact that the agency in question (Innis Maggiore) happens to be one of the fastest growing advertising firms in Ohio, and that a large proportion of those invovled in the creation and management of information spaces now recognize the indispensable nature of IA.
I called Innis Maggiore to ask them about the opening, but haven’t been able to speak with them yet to find out how they identified the need, how many applicants they’ve had, and what level of quality the applicants demonstrate. I’ll post anything I learn further.
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