Friday, September 13, 2002

how do you train an information architect?

damn interesting article by george olsen at boxes and arrows right now.

as you know, i am an academic first, but currently make a living as an information architect. truth be told, i've never taken a class on IA - i've taught myself what i could and have learned the rest through trial and error (thanks to clients willing to experiment and learn with me). the only thing i know for sure is that in developing interfaces and cultivating virtual communities, my single greatest challenge has been dealing with people issues. technology inevitably takes a back seat to questions around the production of knowledge and meaning, social learning and interaction. and this is where my academic training has done me right: ten years of university learning in the liberal arts, and specifically in social anthropology, archaeology, architecture, and social space helps me navigate the techno-spaces i build and want others to use.

i particularly appreciate olsen's comments on specialisation and experience. postgraduate degrees mandate specialisation. over the years i have had to fight to go beyond the obligatory course-work and broaden my body of knowledge. cross-disciplinary research remains marginal in the academy, and we are encouraged to publish only within peer-reviewed journals that very few people read, let alone comprehend. ia, as a practice, must transcend traditional boundaries and the academy is indeed ill-suited to provide an education in that sense. add to this the increasing frequency with which grad students move directly from one degree to the next, without any real-world application of their knowledge, and we have a serious problem.

i don't mean to suggest that my experience is better, but i have come to recognise certain advantages. i have been trained across a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, as well as developing a solid grounding in the natural sciences. this breadth of training has always been supplemented by my working life - both during, and between, my degrees. i have been afforded the opportunity to test my theories, and have been forced to revise firmly held convictions. i have been well-prepared to deal with ambiguity and to find ways to adapt to constantly changing circumstances - and i believe it is this that helps me work as an information architect...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question how do you become an Architect? do you have to go to school to train or what?


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