ARCHIVE: March, 2007

Gender Issues

Anne Zelenka, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Adobe Engage event on Tuesday, adds a valuable viewpoint to the recent gender discussion started reignited by Jason Kottke. (Anne and I have cross-linked in the past…she’s a deep thinker on social issues)

“Gender is an important category of diversity because women experience radically different life patterns and external expectations than men and so by including a critical mass of women you are more likely to get some orthogonal perspectives than if you include more men. Now of course you can go after diverse men too–and you should if you are concerned about overcoming groupthink and echo chamber effects. But if you leave out women almost entirely, you are leaving out representatives of half your potential audience. Even given similar intelligence profiles, career paths, and temperaments, a woman and a man are likely to have very different views on technology… because they come at it from vastly different experiences of the world. We experience more conflicting messages and more ambivalence around working in technology and working with technology than men do. Society expects different things from us, so we in turn may focus on what seems unimportant or uninteresting to men.”

More here

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More Thoughts on the Impending Death of Information Architecture

How “information architecture” is defined much too broadly, frames design in the wrong way, and suffers from infoprefixation.

One of the more insightful social design books of the last decade is John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid’s The Social Life of Information (ch. 1), in which the authors suggest that we suffer from “tunnel vision” caused by an over-focus on technology. Certainly, the technological explosion of the Web has brought about huge changes, as Brown and Duguid should know: Brown works at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and Duguid works at UC Berkeley, two of the most distinguished technology havens on Earth.

Infoprefixation

One emergent problem Brown and Duguid describe is called “infoprefixation”, or being over-fixated on information instead of focusing on the people who use it to enrich their lives. Here’s how they explain it:

“…you don’t need to look far these days to find much that is familiar in the world redefined as information. Books are portrayed as information containers, libraries as information warehouses, universities as information providers, and learning as information absorption. Organizations are depicted as information coordinators, meetings as information consolidators, talk as information exchange, markets as information-driven stimulus and response”

This tendency to reframe things in terms of information echoes my frustrations with “information architecture”…

Continue Reading: More Thoughts on the Impending Death of Information Architecture

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