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Information Architecture in the Age of Complexity
University of Borås, School of Business and IT.
2012 (English)In: Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, ISSN 1550-2163, Vol. 39, no 1, 9-13 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

While the distinction between complex and complicated may seem negligible, the key is understanding that complexity applies to a system that cannot be simulated, modeled and predicted. Website architecture within the Internet environment may be just such a system with evolving underlying technologies and demands, and handling their complexity is the information architect's challenge. Complexity is added by the undercurrent of social, cultural and economic influences, infusing pervasive layers of extra meaning, often indirect and detached from the immediate content in a postmodern sense. Progress has moved to postdigital, where the focus is on the user, not the technology, generating pseudo-modern cultural products dependent on user interaction. The result is a new need for place and meaning that supports the user's cross-channel experience. Resulting websites, still complex, may elude modeling, but with new meanings and structures emerging from a new style of usage, they can still be designed. In my undergraduate and graduate courses, a sizable fraction of the time is spent working on hands-on projects, and in the past two years these projects have largely become cross-channel projects [1]. We tackle transportation, healthcare, student services, media-oriented services, all of them from an ecological perspective where the single device, channel or platform plays second violin to the overall user experience. The initial reaction of many of my students to the one-page project briefs I hand over is a plain and simple, “This is way too complex.” I usually spend a little time there being the pedant old guy in the room and explaining that there is a difference between complex and complicated. I write the two words on the whiteboard (how is that for pedantry?), and proceed to lecture them on the fact that what they are actually trying to tell me is that the project brief they have in their hands seems very complicated to them – complicated as in “not easy to understand or analyze.” Which is to be expected, of course. And yes, I argue, you can find similar definitions for complex in the dictionary, but the word has now so many attachments to the theory of complexity, we cannot really use it technically that way anymore. So, what does complex mean, Mr. Pedant? Well, I'll tell you what I tell my students: I don't know.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ASIS&T , 2012. Vol. 39, no 1, 9-13 p.
Keyword [en]
information architecture, digital humanities, new media
National Category
Information Systems
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-1349DOI: 10.1002/bult.2012.1720390104Local ID: 2320/11582OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-1349DiVA: diva2:869373
Available from: 2015-11-13 Created: 2015-11-13 Last updated: 2016-11-23Bibliographically approved

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