New Frontiers - IA in Two Unexpected Places

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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