Annual Report, 2002-2003

This article in Português.

Our Founding

Some founding members at Asilomar in CaliforniaAugust 21, 2003 -- In March of2002 Louis Rosenfeld and Christina Wodtke invited a group of people todiscuss how to advance the field of information architecture (IA). Oneprevious effort, ACIA,provided valuable information but was too closely paired to acommercial company to be sustainable. Another,, generated manygrass-roots ideas but few concrete results. The new group was large enoughto represent diverse opinions yet small enough to stay focused on thetask. After eight months of online discussions, phone calls, and ameeting at the AsilomarConference Grounds in California, the idea of the AsilomarInstitute for Information Architecture (AIfIA) was born.

Mission and Goals

AIfIA launched in November, 2002 and was soon incorporated andgranted non-profit tax status. Our mission is to

...advance the design of shared information environments.We support a global community infrastructure that connects people,ideas, content, and tools. Through research, education, advocacy andcommunity service, we promote excellence within our field and buildbridges to related disciplines and organizations.

Out of this mission emerged more immediate goals which act ascriteria to decide which projects to pursue during the Institute'sfirst year:

  1. Advance the field of information architecture
  2. Provide value to members in their practice of IA
  3. Create sustainable infrastructure & operations to support these goals

Members and Projects

With only a foundation of the Institute in place, 163 chartermembers joined us in the first week. These members represented 120organizations in 13 countries. By August of 2003, there were over 400members from 26 countries. It is these early members, as well assupport from others, whohave worked to make progress on our first projects, including:

  • AIfIA Translations,translating Information Architecture articles into a number oflanguages
  • Education Curriculum,developing a recommended curriculum framework to assist instructors inplanning IA classes
  • F2F, facilitating theability for AIfIA members to meet face-to-face
  • Job Board, providing aclearinghouse for position postings relating to informationarchitecture and more broadly to information design, interactiondesign, and HCI
  • Metricsfor IA, creating a scale to measure the impact of InformationArchitecture work
  • Membership Directory,designing, building and delivering a directory of member individualsand companies well as other projects in development. An infrastructure wasbuilt to support these projects, including:

  • Financial support
  • Legal support
  • Mailing lists for members and project teams
  • Public Relations and Announcemailing list
  • Technology & program management
  • Volunteer coordination
  • Web operations team

Also this year were more discrete but still significantachievements, such as the free, online publication of a seminal paperon faceted classification and surveys on IA myths, thefuture of IA, contentmanagement systems, and salaries. Mostsignificant was the LeadershipSeminar held at the IA Summitin March which generated great discussion and sparked quite a bit ofnetworking. It also raised money to pay back the loans from ourfounders and to support ASIST, theorganizer.


AIfIA's financial position is squarely in the black, and we arewell-positioned to support AIfIA initiatives and maintain AIfIAinfrastructure in the coming year.


Seed loans from AIfIA founders covered significant start-up andinfrastructure expenses, enabling AIfIA to achieve 501c6 status andestablish bylaws and finances with professional assistance by the endof 2002. Thanks to the growing interest and generosity of theinformation architecture community, membership dues have constitutedthe greatest portion of income. Other major sources of revenue includea seminar taught at the IA Summit by AIfIA volunteers, and theconversion of a significant portion of founder loans to donations,especially impressive considering donations to 501c6 organizations arenot tax-deductible.

Financial Milestones

  • September 2002: AIfIA's seed money: $7,301 (loans from foundingmembers)
  • October 2002: Infrastructure expenses (legal,accounting/bookkeeping,incorporation) cost $5,966
  • November 2002: AIfIA public launch; steady flow of new chartermemberships
  • March 2003: AIfIA Leadership Seminar at IA Summit raises $6,260(as wellas $4,173 for ASIS&T)
  • May 2003: $4,676 of founder loans repaid; remaining $2,625converted todonations
  • July 2003: $14,106 in membership contributions to date

Financial Status as of July 2003

  • Total income: $22,991
  • Total expense: $7,590
  • Net income: $15,401

Income 2002 to 2003Expenses 2002 to 2003


We received a great deal of interest from various organizations tobecome partners, but only pursued those which offered clear benefits toboth organizations.

One example is IA Slash, a newssite for information architects. Michael Angeles generously donated thesite and domain name to the Institute and we have agreed to maintainthis valuable resource.

The University of Baltimore stepped up with the intention toparticipate in the Educational Curriculum initiative on anorganizational basis. Their involvement can improve both the Curriculumand the university's own Master'sprogram in Interaction Design and Information Architecture.

Organizational Structure

During our first growing year we recognized the shortcomings in ourleadership structure. With a revision to our bylaws in July we reframedthe Leadership Council as an Advisory Board appointed by the Board ofDirectors, providing AIfIA with a more traditional, more streamlinedgovernance model.

Thank You

This short report cannot adequately recognize all those who helpedmake AIfIA's first year a success. Our heartfelt thanks go out toeveryone who has contributed in even the smallest way. We look forwardto furthering our mission together in the years to come.


The AIfIA 2002-3 Board of Directors:

Christina Wodtke, President
Lou Rosenfeld, Treasurer
Victor Lombardi, Secretary
Peter Morville
John Zapolski

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