The Information Architecture Institute
A conference on designing
complex information spaces of all kinds.
New York City, October 4 and 5, 2007

Archive for Uncategorized

Pre-conference gathering to see Helvetica tonight!

HELVETICA is showing at 6:30 p.m. tonight. Meet up with other IDEA attendees at the IFC box office on 323 6th Ave. at West 3rd St. at 6:15 p.m.


Contest winner!

IDEA is happy to announce that Christopher Fahey and his blog have won the blogger contest. Christopher will receive a free registration to the Conference.
Thanks for posting IDEA to your blog!


Reminder IDEA starts in 8 days! New 30% discount offer on IDEA with Web 2.0 Bootcamp from Web 2.0 University

IDEA 2007 is coming to NYC, October 3-5. We’ve also got a fantastic promotion available for people who want to attend IDEA and Web 2.0 Bootcamp on October 2, in NYC.web2u_r2_c2.png

Web 2.0 Bootcamp leads you through a deep exploration of the latest ideas, business models, trends, and techniques behind Web 2.0 with a special emphasis on proven, actionable methods for creating new online
products and services – or transforming existing ones – using a Web 2.0 model.

If you want to attend both events, you will receive 30% off regular registration prices for both Web 2.0 University & IDEA 2007 – if you already registered for IDEA, you can still take advantage of the Web 2.0 Bootcamp discount by purchasing an upgrade. Click here to register or for more information visit Web 2.0 University.

Also, don’t forget about our great IDEA group discount - we’re offering a special group rate. Bring your team! Groups of 5 or more receive an additional 10% off. For instance, a group of IAI members, each registration is only $450.00. A group of 5 or more non-IAI members pays only $540.00 per individual. Register here and just choose Group from the ticket list.

Or why not join IAI as a group and get a great discount for all your members:

Want to mix and match non-member and member tickets or learn more about IDEA discounts and group membership? Contact <>. Feel free to pass this message on to your colleagues and groups you think would be interested.


Storytelling in the City: An Interview with Jake Barton

JakeTelling stories to strangers is not something that most people seek to do. But finding these stories, encouraging them from people in unlikely scenarios, and making the experience enjoyable, is exactly what Jake Barton aims to do.

Barton, through his design studio Local Projects, seeks to encourage the telling of stories in public spaces. In projects that account for high-tech, low-tech, and everything in between, his studio is currently working on projects from the a cellphone tour of the Statue of Liberty to a memorial of the September 11th attacks. And many of the projects happen in Barton’s own backyard—New York City.

IDEA talked with Barton about his work in New York, and some of his plans for the upcoming conference.

IDEA Q: Is it important for you to be here, in New York, doing the work that you do? Does the city itself provide a backdrop or inspiration?

Personally, I think New York is a phenomenal place to make participatory media, as the urban experience is about collective participation—with its crowded streets, with dense clusters of activity from hot dog vendors to hip-hop groups. I especially like that “normalizing” of behavior (i.e., yelling at other New Yorkers) is typical—it makes the New York experience one that is contingent on sharing with others.

IDEA Q: As a resident of New York yourself, what’s it like to have to use the experiences you design (passing by the Story Corps Booth in Grand Central Terminal, for example)?

Its really gratifying. Local Projects’ name comes from the classic Tip O’Neill quote that all politics is local. For us, design is local, steeped in the specific conditions and challenges of a site, client, or audience.

By building things in our hometown, we get consistent feedback and response, and can gauge how the projects and their meanings evolve over time. I’ve gotten “shushed” more than once in my own movies, and its very heart-warming.

IDEA Q: Where do you look for inspiration or direction outside the field of design?

Well, it depends on what you consider design, but mostly I listen to the radio. “RadioLab” from WNYC is a brilliant communicator—The Simpsons meets NOVA. “This American Life” has a consistent knack for mixing the everyday experience with profound larger meanings. And even though our design work is done, I love “StoryCorps,” each story is a jewel.

IDEA Q: What should the audience remember about your talk when they go back to their desks on Monday morning?

That you need to have a point of view about what you want the audience to do, learn, be, achieve, and dream through your work. And that making design functional and beautiful can be done and done well.

IDEA Q: Can you describe what you’ll be talking about at IDEA in just one word?


~ Liz Danzico


Attend IDEA for Free!

Yes, one lucky blogger will win a free pass to IDEA 2007!
Post a kind comment or blatant plug about IDEA 2007 to your blog and include the image and URL below, and maybe your blog post will be selected for the free pass.

IDEA badge for your blog

Terms & conditions: Write to so we know about it, entries close 6:00 PM PST Wednesday September 19, judge’s decision is final. The pass is transferable, so if you’re already registered you can pass it on to a lucky friend or colleague.


Older Is Wiser: An Interview with Alex Wright

Most people look ahead for inspiration and direction; look to the future, what’s next, the unknown. And while it’s just full of powerful examples, we openly disregard and often rudely shun the past.

Enter Alex Wright who, with a single book, Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages, offers us a historical framework for what we’re doing today. Alex reminds us, teaches us, that the past is relevant. And while wireframing isn’t an age-old tradition, organizing information is. With Glut, we finally have context.

We talked with Alex about what he has in store for us at the upcoming IDEA 2007 conference:

IDEA Q: Describe what it’s like being an information architect for The New York Times, talked about as one of the most progressive examples of what’s going right online today.

It’s no secret that the newspaper business is struggling these days: shrinking ad pages, newsroom layoffs, consolidation and buyouts. On the face of it, it seems like a terrible time to take a job in this industry. What drew me to The Times was the company’s willingness to innovate in the face of adversity. Its old Gray Lady image notwithstanding, The Times is doing some genuinely breakthrough interactive work these days, and I’m honored to play a small role in that.

On a day-to-basis, what I do is not much different from what most IAs do: user research, prototyping, going to meetings (and more meetings), and occasionally enjoying the satisfaction of seeing a project actually launch.

IDEA Q: You’ve just finished the renowned book Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages. How should people rely on the history of a craft when doing the work that they do?

Most of us who work on the Web seem to operate in a kind of historical vacuum. The Web is such a young and potent medium that its sheer dominance tends to obscure the history of what came before. But if we, as information architects (or whatever we call ourselves), define ourselves solely in terms of the Web, we limit our horizons.

In my book, I try to situate what we do in a deeper historical context to suggest that organizing information is a fundamental act of human culture. While I don’t necessarily expect that reading my book will change the way anyone draws their wireframes, I do hope it opens people up to the possibility that at least some of what we do transcends any particular technology.

IDEA Q:We understand that you’ve recently moved to New York City from San Francisco. How does the place you’re in affect the kind of work you do—either on a small or a large scale?

In the Bay Area software world (where I lived and worked for seven years), you occasionally encounter a kind of subtle superiority complex towards the East Coast; some people maybe try a little too hard to conform to the non-conformist ideal. That said, there’s no question that the Bay Area does have a special kind of energy going for it; there’s a reason so many start-ups happen out there. And there is a certain sharpness
and alacrity to New York that rubs off on you after a while.

We are all shaped to some extent by the places we live, but I think you can appreciate and work with those
energies without necessarily having to take sides.”

IDEA Q: Where do you look for inspiration or direction outside the field of design?

I can barely pretend to play piano, but for some reason my favorite role models have always been musicians. I especially admire virtuoso instrumental groups, who seem to share the qualities of great design teams: individual mastery coupled with a willingness to collaborate and improvise.

IDEA Q: What should the audience remember about your talk when they go back to their desks
on Monday morning?

I hope they’ll remember a few good stories, and come away with a sense of belonging to an ancient, living

IDEA Q: Can you describe what you’ll be talking about at IDEA in just one word?


~Liz Danzico


September 15th deadline is approaching for two great discount offers

We have fantastic promotions available including a discount for Smart Experience students, discounts for groups of 5 or more, and of course IAI member discounts.

The IDEA early registration discount (save $100) ends September 15th, so register today.

Smart Experience is a New York-based school offering classes on state-of-the-art topics to working professionals in the Internet, mobile, and software fields. Between now and September 15, if you register for IDEA you’ll also receive a 20% discount to any Smart Experience course through October. If you’re currently a Smart Experience student, you can receive a 10% IDEA discount at registration. To apply for the discount, simply send your IDEA registration confirmation email to and you’ll receive a discount code good for any Smart Experience class in September or October.

Great Group Discount - we’re offering a special group rate. Bring your team! Groups of 5 or more receive an additional 10% off. For instance, a group of IAI members, each registration is only $360.00. A group of 5 or more non-IAI members pays only $450.00 per individual. Register and choose Group from the ticket list.

Or, why not join IAI as a group and get a great discount for all your members?


Welcome to IDEA 2007

Program planning is underway for 2007. We’ve already lined up a bunch of great speakers, with many more to come. The conference will be October 4-5, in the great city of New York. We’re giving the conference an urban feel this year, and inviting back a couple of crowd favorites from last year-Jake Barton and Fernanda Viegas. We’ll be posting more in the coming weeks. If you liked IDEA last year, this year is going to be even better. So register now!


Cheeseburger in Paradise.

A fun read for you Info Architects:



-Kate Peterson

PS: Isn’t it funny that I can choose uncategorized and various other categories to categorize my post? Can anyone explain the ”meta” category to me? I thought meta was an html tag for search engines??? 


Shameless self-promotion

If you’re looking for more postings related to the IDEA conference, I’m blogging the sessions (most of them, anyway) over at hegemony rules.


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