In Information Architecture, Taxonomy

Almost a week later, and I’m still exhausted from the Information Architecture Summit 2014 in San Diego. And I mean that in a good way, in a GREAT way. After hosting a workshop, attending four keynotes, attending near 15 amazing talks, having an innumerable amount of wonderful and challenging conversations with great IA minds, (and somehow managing to eat, sleep, and be a human in there, too) I’m wiped, in the best way possible. My highlights are three-fold:

#1: Hosting the Taming Taxonomy Workshop

My good friend Alberta Soranzo and I had a chance to turn our well-received talk on taxonomy into an honest-to-goodness workshop. We went to great lengths to prepare a hands-on, immediately practical, and semi-hilarious workshop.

After walking through a case study and a life cycle of taxonomy development, we set attendees to task in creating a taxonomy for an imaginary client (check www.Dystopedia.org for the tip of the imaginary iceberg). It’s my first time being included in the content of the IA Summit, and I’m thankful. Perhaps it’s just the fact that we bribed them (with candy, fun handouts, more Sharpies than anyone could imagine, swag from Optimal Workshop Suite, O’Reilly Media, and Rosenfeld Media), but folks seem to have a great time. There were even two professional taxonomists who attended as first timers that enjoyed the workshop and reported being inspired to submit their own taxonomy workshops to future IA Summits!

Alberta Soranzo helloing IAS14 workshop attendees tame taxonomy.

Alberta Soranzo helping IAS14 workshop attendees tame taxonomy.

Close up of workshop materials

Close up of workshop materials

A group taking their first stab at an expert card sort

A group taking their first stab at an expert card sort

Peer to peer learning - groups share their taxonomies, their challenges, and thoughts on how their client might benefit from cross-channel application of the taxonomy

Peer to peer learning – groups share their taxonomies, their challenges, and thoughts on how their client might benefit from cross-channel application of the taxonomy

#2: Soaking in the Sights

The following are pictures I captured of some of my personal highlights of the weekend. Connecting with like minds in beautiful locations, helping welcome newcomers to the community, listening in on thought provoking, well-structured entertaining talks from brilliant IAs, and finally, my favorite, geniuses/wonderful human beings acting completely silly.

IA Collective at Salk Institute 2014 IAsummit

A trip to Salk Institute with a handful of the world’s best IAs. One day, this photo will be in a canonical IA textbook. Some of the folks here today were: Bob Royce, Dan Klyn, Andrew Hinton, Abby Covert, Christina Wodke, Jorge Arango, Megan Schwartz, and me.

Craft & Commerce - IAS14 First Timers Dinner

Hosting First Timer Dinner with fellow TUGger Joe Elmendorf. It’s inclusionary principles like purposefully including newcomers that make the IAS special.

Mike Atherton’s Talk - Web Scaled IA Using Linked & Open Data

Mike Atherton’s Talk – Web Scaled IA Using Linked & Open Data

Jason Hobbs’ Talk - brilliant talk spanning art, architecture, and urban planning about the "The Design behind the Design behind the Design"

Jason Hobbs’ Talk—brilliant talk spanning art, architecture, and urban planning about the “The Design behind the Design behind the Design

Jorge Arango and Andy Fitzgerald "Whip It" - song by Devo, memories by IAS14

Jorge Arango and Andy Fitzgerald “Whip It”—song by Devo, memories by IAS14. Bonus: See the video here:MOV_1553

#3. Taking on the Role of IAS15 Co-Chair

I’m honored to announce that along with my incredibly smart and passionate co-chairs Mike Atherton and Veronica Erb, I will be co-chairing the IA Summit in 2015. Hosted in Minneapolis from April 22-April 26 in 2015, we are looking forward to bringing the IA community a great event. If you’d like more info on the event or would like to volunteer or sponsor, please drop us a line here: 2015.iasummit.org I’m looking forward to serving the community that has done so much for me – professionally and personally. We stand on the shoulders of giants – many thanks to the great care Abby Covert, Aaron Irizarry, and Johanna Kollman took in making IAS14 so meaningful for so many people.

THANK YOU, IA Summit

One last anecdote: Christina Wodke stopped me at the IAI annual meeting on Saturday. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “What’s the good word?” I know this was a social conversation but if you’ve ever had the privilege of speaking directly with Christina, you come to respect that almost nothing she says is accidental. I took the inquiry serious, thought about it for a beat, and replied: “THANK YOU.” Thank you is a good phrase, powerful phrase, and words we should seek to use with each other more frequently. In that exact moment, I was not only answering her question, but also saying “THANK YOU” to her. THANK YOU for her leadership, her optimism, her power, her extension of that power to others, and to her care for the community at large. Next time you have an opportunity to hear her speak—do it.

I now shout that same THANK YOU to everyone involved with IAS14: The IAS15 chairs, the volunteers, the keynotes, speakers, the workshop hosts, the attendees, the ASIS&T organizers, the sponsors, the hotel staff at the Sheraton, the cab drivers, the past chairs, the folks who served the lunches, the people who couldn’t make it make it but wanted to, the folks who talked late into the night about serious things and shared huge pieces of themselves, the helpful heretics, the brave souls that did karaoke, the folks that put their heart and time into the conference year after year, and my awesome friends at TUG.

Everyone who had something to do with this event makes it inspiring, welcoming, challenging, transformative, and affirming that we are in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. And for that I say, THANK YOU.

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