New Challenges in Information Architecture, A Retreat

April 06, 2005 10:42 PM

Where: Edith Macy Conference Center, Briarcliff Manor, NY (about 45 minutes by train from Midtown Manhattan)
When: Friday, October 7 to Sunday, October 9, 2005

FAQs
  • Space is limited for this event. Are there still open spots?
    As of 9/16, Edith Macy had *one* room left reserved for the retreat. Other rooms may be available, but they are not part of the block set aside for us. If no rooms are available, consider trying to find someone willing to share a room on the mailing list or sign up as a day guest and find lodging at a nearby establishment. For further assistance, please contact us.
  • What is the deadline for submitting presentation proposals?
    The deadline for submitting proposals was Aug. 21.

Why a New Challenges Retreat?

Want to spend a weekend meeting with other IAs from around the globe to talk about what challenges lie on the horizon for information architects? If you're interested in exploring new ideas in the field, in making new personal and professional connections, or just hanging out with a bunch of IAs for a weekend of presentations and social events, then the New Challenges retreat is for you.

In early October of this fall, we'll be gathering at the Edith Macy Conference Center, tucked away in the rolling wooded hills of the scenic Hudson Valley, to share ideas and discuss issues, to discover and create new solutions to new challenges, and be part of shaping the vibrant and continually evolving field of information architecture.The event is supported by the Information Architecture Institute under the Event Sponsorship Program and organized by Information Architecture Institute members. This retreat builds on the success of previous retreats, particularly last year's amazingly successful 'Future of IA' retreat at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, CA, which garnered high praise from several attendees, including Jim Leftwich, who said: "I felt something much more profound than merely professional and vocational connections. I found community and friendship."

To encourage in-depth discussion and promote a relaxed and intimate environment, this will be a small gathering. We are limiting attendance to about 40 spots that are first come, first serve. To sign up, download the Registration Form (PDF) and fax the completed form to the Edith Macy Conference Center at (914) 945-8009. Several registration options have been made available, but we encourage you to join us for the entire weekend by selecting the 'complete retreat package' option, which takes care of all accomodations, meals, refreshments, and presentations, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. No extra fees are collected by the association—this is by us, for us! Want to save money and share a room? Join the retreat mailing list to find a roommate.

As of 9/16, Edith Macy had *one* room left reserved for the retreat. Other rooms may be available, but they are not part of the block set aside for us. If no rooms are available, consider trying to find someone willing to share a room on the mailing list or sign up as a day guest and find lodging at a nearby establishment. For further assistance, please contact us.

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Presentations

We received a lot of great presentation proposals throughout the summer and worked hard to select a vibrant and wide-ranging set of topics to fuel group discussion. Following are the presentations we selected, as well as bios of the presenters.


Adam Greenfield, "Everyware: Planning for user experience in ubiquitous computing"

Everyday life—the domain of ubiquitous computing—is largely terra incognito for today's interaction designers and information architectects, with their models based on serial, sequential interaction and one-to-one correlation between user and device. Web-based models of security, privacy, consent, navigation, and synchronous and asynchronous communication will, if deployed in an ecology of ubiquitous systems, lead at best to frustrating and clumsy user experiences. The time to start developing new models, metaphors and understandings is here.

About Adam

Adam Greenfield is an information architect, user experience consultant, and writer, with extensive experience devising site architectures for clients including Fortune Global 500 enterprises Toyota, Amgen, Sony, Nippon Express and Capgemini. Currently, Adam is principal of Studies and Observations, a New York City-based user experience and strategic design consultancy. He was formerly lead information architect for Happy Cog Studios in New York City, having previously held the same position in the Tokyo office of Razorfish. Adam organized the First International Moblogging Conference in Tokyo, and is co-founder of the Boxes & Arrows online magazine.
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Dan Brown, "Applying Prototype Theory to Content Management"

As enterprise applications grow increasingly complex, traditional analytical tools used by information architects are quickly becoming obsolete. Without good tools for understanding the underlying content management concepts, information architects must address mounting obstacles to successful CMS deployments. Drawing on George Lakoff's ground-breaking work in cognitive linguistics, this presentation will introduce prototype theory as a new way of framing challenges facing information architects in their quest to build a useful enterprise information application. This presentation will provide an overview of prototype theory, show how the theory applies to content management, and offer some practical advice for information architects on developing content types, defining workflows and establishing roles.

About Dan

Dan Brown has been practicing information architecture and user experience design since 1994, with clients including The Federal Communications Commission, The Postal Service, The Department of Homeland Security, US Airways, Fannie Mae, First USA, British Telecom, Special Olympics, AOL, and the World Bank. Dan has taught classes at Duke, Georgetown, and American Universities and has written for the CHI Bulletin and Interactive Television Today (itvt.com), as well as Boxes and Arrows, where he is a regular contributor. Dan is very active in the Washington, DC, information architecture community, and participated in establishing the Information Architecture Institute. He is currently the User Experience Lead for Computech, Inc.
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James Melzer, "Enterprise Information Architecture in Context"

As more organizations turn their attention to enterprise content management, information architects find themselves working with increasingly diverse teams. Planning content management for the enterprise often requires senior management, enterprise architects, records managers, librarians, and web professionals to sit at a table together for the first time. Each field brings its own perspective, processes, motivations, and lingo. Miscommunication is a major project risk, potentially leading parties to drop out and pursue their own solution. Information architects must assume the roles of leader, strategist, or facilitator in this situation. This presentation will provide a generalized framework for discussing, planning, and executing enterprise information architecture (EIA) for enterprise content management (ECM). It is designed to provide a common approach and language for all the constituencies, showing everyone their own piece of the puzzle and enabling them to see how their piece fits into the larger picture. The presentation is organized around a new version of the diagram "EIA in Context."

The presentation identifies a relatively new problem facing IAs, which calls for them to take on new roles and learn new skills. The diagram is intended to fill a void between Jesse James Garrett's "Elements of User Experience" and Louis Rosenfeld's "EIA Roadmap." Jesse delineates the sequencing of skills and roles needed for a Web product; Lou provides an a la carte menu of IA activities to help IAs plan ahead. My diagram is intended to delineate the sequencing of activities and products involved in enterprise IA and enterprise CM. It is intended for use by IAs for discussions with professionals from other fields, such as IT and records management. A longer but more rudimentary version of this presentation was delivered in August 2005 as a lecture at the University of Maryland.

About James

James Melzer is an information architect and interaction designer at SRA International in Washington, DC. He has consistently worked as a liaison between clients and development teams, applying user-centered design principles and best practices to create usable products that achieve client goals. His responsibilities include the development of taxonomies and metadata schemas, the design of navigation schemes and user interfaces, the illustration of customer and developer documentation, and the gathering and analysis of business requirements and user research. A core aspect of James' role is the creation and presentation of client-facing design documents, such as wireframes, prototypes, and sitemaps. James helps organizations identify meaning and communicate it to their customers.
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Jorge Arango and Peter Van Dijck, "Practical Global IA"

In an update to their 2005 IA Summit Leadership workshop on Global IA, Jorge Arango and Peter Van Dijck will do a joint presentation to report on their further investigations into Global IA. We plan to flesh out the structure presented at the Summit—Global IA at the strategic, tactical, and operational levels—with examples and techniques gleaned from conversations with practitioners involved in trans-cultural IA projects and from other fields.

About Jorge and Peter

Jorge Arango was one of the first information architects in Central America. He has led Web development teams in Panama, the US, and the UK, and has worked on structuring and deploying public websites, intra/extranets, and portals for organizations of diverse sizes and regional scope. He currently leads BootStudio, an information architecture and user-centered Web design consultancy in Panama.

Peter Van Dijck is an independent information architecture consultant, and author of "Information architecture for designers". He has developed information architectures for Fortune 1000 companies in a wide variety of industries. Peter is passionate about things that have been known to put angry adult african elephants to sleep, like XML metadata, internationalization and the social science of technology.
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"International Enterprise Intranets: Successfully Building and deploying an Enterprise Intranet with Distributed Content Publishing," by Mairi Willis

Content publishing and management is moving away from a centralized model and onto the employees and business owners. This is a very difficult move not just for the business, but for employees, most of whom have no experience at all with content management systems, content organization, layout or writing for the web. Throw in an unfamiliar taxonomy, some governance, records management, compliance, and a few lawyers, and it starts to get messy. Then throw in as many languages as you can think of, different cultures, different needs, and the usual lack of time and resources... and it's a whole new game.

About Mairi

Mairi Willis is a Lead User Experience Architect currently consulting to a top Fortune 500 company in Switzerland. She has worked on enterprise solutions with a variety of companies including Kodak, Xerox, Vodafone, British Telecom, Prudential Securities and Philip Morris International. Mairi has more than 14 years experience developing graphic communications, strategic interface guidelines and product specifications as an Information Architect, Interaction Designer, Usability Analyst, and Graphic Designer. Her experience includes the development of enterprise portals, content management systems, applications, and strategic branding documentation. She is currently focusing her energies on the development of an Enterprise Content Management System and the deployment of an intranet that encompasses 40 affiliates worldwide.
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"It's Not Just the Interface," by Marcelo Marer and Mary-Lynne Williams

As the online lives of users become increasingly intertwined with their physical 'offline' lives, information architects are finding that their work needs to extend beyond the computer screen and into new domains, such as workflow analysis, business process engineering, and change management. In addition to their usual bag of tricks, IAs will need to develop a firm grasp of how the offline workflow impacts technology, interplays with client dynamics, and informs online usability issues. At the end of the day the information architect will need to look not only at online usability, but whether their work has improved upon the offline lives of users. When are the tasks we leave offline also part of the information architecture? And what's the future for IA outside the interface? The presentation will cover methods and solutions, such as integrating offline workflow with sitemaps, developing team personas, and conducting team usability testing. We'll refer to several case studies, including Fortune 100 Pharma and Financial Services Clients, as well as Nielsen Media Research and the New York Public Library.

About Marcelo and Mary-Lynne

At Avenue A | Razorfish since 2000, Marcelo Marer is an Experience Director who has brought fourteen years of experience in the design of educational/informational projects for academic institutions, the arts and highly specialized industries. Marcelo's most recent engagements have been with the New York Public Library, Nielsen Media Research, and Kodak. Originally from Brazil, his educational background is in Medicine, Philosophy and Linguistics.

Mary-Lynne Williams is responsible for user experience research, design and usability testing on Avenue A | Razorfish projects. Her background is in architecture and visual design in addition to information architecture, giving her a unique and invaluable insight into assuring that the design and user experience are maintained at the highest level. Over the past nine years she has developed a special expertise in financial services clients and has worked on numerous complex transactional applications. Mary-Lynne has extensive experience in usability, information architecture and design for clients including BusinessWeek, Deutsche Bank, Gateway Computers, JP Morgan Chase, Moody's Investors Service, Morgan Stanley, The Museum of Modern Art, Pfizer, Sony, and Standard & Poor's.
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Todd Warfel, "Methods for Improving IA Deliverables - less explaining, more doing"

One of our roles as IAs is to make information understandable. And yet it seems we’ve forgotten that we’re not designing our deliverables for us, but for someone else. Several years ago, we began an initiative to improve our deliverables the same way we would for any client project - we asked our end users. And while we’re not completely there yet, we’ve found several methods and new models that have proven to work better, improving our efficiency, and result in less time explaining and more time doing. This talk will explore some of the methods we’ve begun using over the years, which have made measurable improvements in not only in our ability to get more done, but more importantly in the quality of our work. Specifically, we’ll explore design patterns, how they’ve improved our work, and why they’re an essential tool for IAs. Additionally, we’ll discuss our hub sitemap model and why we’ve found it performs better than traditional boxes and arrows site maps.

About Todd

Todd Warfel is a Design and Usability consultant at Messagefirst, a Philadelphia based user experience firm. With over 12 years of experience practicing user research, information architecture, interaction/interface design, and usability his work has produced several industry firsts and patented products. His work has included projects for Fortune 500 firms, government agencies, and educational institutions, including Adobe, Albertsons, AT&T Wireless, Bankrate, Bank of America, Comcast, Cornell University, Dell, EDS, Macromedia, Palm, Philips Electronics, and SBC. A respected leader in the User Experience community, Todd contributes to leading industry publications like Boxes and Arrows and continues to be a sought after presenter and educator.
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Victor Lombardi, "Product Development for IAs"

Victor's cartoon

The interest in 'return on investment' of our work seems to be rooted in insecurities about the value information architects provide. We can alleviate these doubts when we move beyond organizing information and think in terms of product development, including the financial modeling that is vital in justifying why and how a product should work. More than just annoying math, developing financial models can actually expand our capability to design creatively. We'll begin with some basic background information and then spend the majority of the time in a group exercise using a real-world model.

About Victor

Victor is a principal at the Management Innovation Group, drawing on his passion for innovation to create more effective organizations. For several years Victor engaged in user research and product design while managing departments and project teams. His clients come from a wide span of industries and have included the Ford Motor Company, J.P. Morgan, Verizon, Office Depot, Sharp Electronics and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Victor has experience on over 30 projects performing research, product design, team building, process definition, training, and operations improvement. He currently serves as President of the Information Architecture Institute, has taught at the Parsons School of Design and is a frequent writer and speaker.
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Interested in presenting?

The deadline for submitting presentation proposals was Aug. 21.

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Retreat Schedule

Details of the schedule may change as we get closer to the retreat. Updates to the schedule will be announced on the mailing list.

Meal Schedule

Breakfast: 7:00 – 9:00 am
Lunch: 12:00 Noon – 1:30 pm
Dinner: 6:00 – 7:30 pm

Friday, October 7

Start

End

Session

Leader

4:00pm

5:00pm

Arrival/Sign-In

 

5:00pm

6:00pm

Get to Know You Chat (Main Lounge)

 

6:00pm

7:00pm

Dinner

 

8:00pm

10:00pm

Drinks on the patio

 

 

Saturday, October 8

Start

End

Session

Leader

9:00am

9:30am

Welcome

Anders Ramsay

9:30am

10:30am

Practical Global IA

Jorge Arango, Peter Van Dijck

10:30am

11:00am

Coffee Break

 

11:00am

12:00pm

It's Not Just the Interface

Marcelo Marer, Mary-Lynne Williams

12:00pm

1:30pm

Lunch / 'Women in IA' Roundtable

Livia Libate

1:30

2:30pm

International Enterprise Intranets: Successfully Building and deploying an Enterprise Intranet with Distributed Content Publishing

Mairi Willis

2:30pm

3:30pm

Applying Prototype Theory to Content Management

Dan Brown

3:30pm

4:00pm

Coffee Break

 

4:00pm

5:30pm

Methods for Improving IA Deliverables - less explaining, more doing

Todd Warfel

6:00pm

7:00pm

Dinner

 

8:00pm

10:00pm

Drinks on the patio

Open Bar 8-9pm, courtesy of the IA Institute

 

 

Sunday, October 9

Start

End

Session

Leader

9:30am

10:30am

Product Development for IAs

Victor Lombardi

10:30am

11:00am

Coffee break

 

11:00am

12:00pm

Enterprise Information Architecture in Context

James Melzer

12:00pm

1:00pm

Lunch

 

1:00pm

2:00pm

Everyware: Planning for user experience in ubiquitous computing

Adam Greenfield

2:00pm

3:30pm

Group Activity/Book Raffle

Anders Ramsay

3:30pm

4:00pm

Goodbyes

 

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Join the retreat mailing list

A retreat mailing list has been set up to allow prospective and registered retreat attendees to connect and to receive news about the retreat. If you are looking for a roommate for the retreat, this is a good way to find someone. To join the retreat mailing list, send an email to eastcoastretreat@iainstitute.org.

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Photos/Testimonials from last year's retreat

Here is what some of those who attended last year's 'Future of IA' Retreat had to say about it, as well as some photos from last year's retreat.

The Future of Information Architecture retreat was simply amazing, one of the top three professional events I've ever attended. Wonderful people, setting, format, discussion…everything.
—Victor Lombardi, Principal, The Management Innovation Group

The retreat was exactly the right size; just big enough to be interesting and small enough to be intimate.
—Harry Max, Web Communications Architect, DreamWorks Animation

I felt something much more profound than merely professional and vocational connections.  I found community and friendship.
—James Leftwich, IDSA, Orbit Interaction

Between 12pm on October 1 and 6pm on October 3, I participated in more intelligent and stimulating conversations than I had in the first nine months of 2004.
—Jorge Arango, Principal, Bootstudio

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Sign up for the retreat

The deadline for signing up for the retreat is Sept. 30. If you are joining us as a day guest, the deadline is Oct. 4.

As of 9/16, Edith Macy had *one* room left reserved for the retreat. Other rooms may be available, but they are not part of the block set aside for us. If no rooms are available, consider trying to find someone willing to share a room on the mailing list or sign up as a day guest and find lodging at a nearby establishment. For further assistance, please contact us.

Pricing for food (breakfast, lunch, dinner, refreshments), lodging, and all presentations from Friday through Sunday afternoon for the retreat is $590 + tax for single occupancy and $390 + tax for double occupancy. To qualify for double occupancy, you must have a roommate at the time of registration whose name you can put on the registration form. Looking for a roomate? Join the retreat mailing list where you can connect with other current or prospective retreat attendees. There are also a limited number of day guest slots available.

To sign up, download and fill out the Registration Form (PDF) and fax the completed form to (914) 945-8009. Be sure to include your email address if you wish to recieve a registration confirmation. Edith Macy also provides transportation service to/from major airports, which can be requested using this form.

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Getting to the retreat

By Car

Driving directions posted on the retreat venue's website

By Train

From Grand Central Station in midtown Manhattan (or from 125th St. in Harlem), take the Metro North train to the Chappaqua station. The trainride is about 45 minutes. The Edith Macy conference is about 10 minutes by car from this station.

For those arriving on Friday afternoon (10/7), please take the train leaving Grand Central Station at 2:48pm, which arrives at 3:39pm at the Chappaqua station. One or more brown Edith Macy mini-vans will be at the Chappaqua Station at around 3:40pm for rides to the venue. We will also be scheduling pickups for those arriving on Saturday morning and will post information about that as soon as it becomes available.

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Contact the retreat planning committee

Have more questions, comments, suggestions? We'd love to hear from you. To contact the Retreat Planning Committee, send an email to eastcoastretreat@iainstitute.org.

We've been working hard to make this happen and are all looking forward to a great event. Hope to see you there!

—The 2005 East Coast IA Retreat Planning Committee

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