Andrea Resmini is a researcher at the University of Borâs in Sweden, an Information Architect at FatDUX, and president of the Information Architecture Institute. He presented “Groundhogs in the Source Code: Navigation as Cross-channel Sense-making” at the IA Summit in New Orleans. Wendy Stengel had a lovely chat with him about his past experiences with the IA Summit.
WS: What was your session about at the 2012 IA Summit?
AR: I wanted to talk about the larger questions that we‘re tackling, about how IA is getting bigger than it was, say, 15 years ago, because information is going everywhere. We‘re not tied to a computer screen anymore, or to even just to mobile. It‘s pervasive.
AR: One of the things that is happening is that is connected to larger issues. We aren‘t just using an application or a system, we‘re learning as we use them As we use the tools, they change us. The way we are able to understand digital spaces—imagined spaces—is changing. It‘s becoming more abstract. We can connect and navigate in new ways because we‘ve been changed – the fragmented experience is mappable in our minds, as we map physical space mentally.
I would love to see a continuation of the conversation of cross-channel (in Baltimore), to see how we‘re maturing the conversation. Some practitioners I talk with are frustrated, because they‘re not seeing cross-channel opportunities in their own practices. These things are happening already, but we as a community are not engaging it as we should.
WS: What has changed about your topic since you shared it at the last IA Summit?
AR: It hasn‘t changed, but it has become richer. This is part of ongoing research for me. I‘m working on a book: Designing Place: An Embodied Approach to Cross-Channel Ecologies— which sounds like more buzzwords than you can pronounce in one sentence.
WS: You also did a Flex session…
AR: Yes! It was a great way to get into a deep conversation in a very intimate setting. I talked about navigation and how we experience spaces. We‘ve always used different media in different ways to be Elsewhere, to build a place that is not the place we are in. This is not a natural thing—it is a developed, constructed language. Human beings are made in a certain way, our brains are not brains in a jar. Our understanding relies on what we perceive. We derive rules, guidelines, ways of understanding the intertwined media and applications we experience. As IAs we can build complicated architectures of meaning, not just information.
WS: What does the term “information architecture” mean to you?
AR: Information architecture is becoming the glue that ties together different information spaces in cross-channel experiences. IA is to digital space or information space what architecture is to physical space—it is the foundational layer of our experiences.
WS: What IA or UX books or articles have you read recently that you would recommend?
AR: This is my latest pile… all about reframing and expanding our perspective. I recommend everyone in our field read “The Soft Edge”—one of the things we generally lack in our field is perspective, and this gives us historical perspective.
- The Soft Edge: A Natural History of Future of the Information Revolution, by Paul Levinson
- The Language of Space, by Bryan Lawson
- Sentient City, edited by Mark Shepard
- Design Expertise, by Bryan Lawson and Kees Dorst
- No Sense of Place, by Joshua Meyrowitz
- By Design, by Ralph Caplan
- Reinventing Cinema, by Chuck Tryon
- Mobile Interface Theory, by Jason Farman
WS: What topics do you hope to see at the next IA Summit in Baltimore?
AR: I would love to see a continuation of the conversation of cross-channel, to see how we‘re maturing the conversation. Some practitioners I talk with are frustrated, because they‘re not seeing cross-channel opportunities in their own practices. These things are happening already, but we as a community are not engaging it as we should. We outsource it to other roles, other fields. But it‘s bound to happen, and we should always start out w/ a mindset that includes other channels. Even if you‘re “just working on the website,” it connects with other things. We cannot silo ourselves off.
WS: What advice could you offer to first-time speakers looking to submit a topic to the IA Summit?
AR: Be bold. Don‘t be scared of your intuitions. Back up your intuitions with facts, but be bold. And, don‘t go to Twitter and ask “what should I speak about?” Speak about what you want to say and share. You have something you can share with others. Share what you know, share your intuitions and your practicalities. And I‘ll see you in Baltimore.