How do we find understanding and create order in the ever-expanding ocean of information that we generate every day? This is a topic that information professionals and students will consider on Saturday in 38 cities around the world during World Information Architecture Day (WIAD), an annual event designed for learning and exchanging ideas around this big topic. This year the event’s theme is “Architecting Happiness.”
World IA Day is supported by the community of professionals who work in information architecture (IA) and user experience for digital environments, but this event isn’t just for the tech-savvy. “This event is really interdisciplinary. Not every speaker is from a user experience or IA background,” says Angie Carrier, one of the organizers of the Ann Arbor event. “For example, we have someone from the Ann Arbor Art Center speaking about experience architecture. In a growing field like information architecture, this is a fun way to expand your viewpoint on what you’re doing every day.”
Carrier is expecting around 200 attendees from Michigan and beyond to attend this event, which will be at Rackham Auditorium on the campus of the University of Michigan. Due to the proximity of the event to U-M’s School of Information, the Ann Arbor conference tends to attract a lot of students from library and info-centered fields in addition to professionals. “We’re a big melting pot,” says Carrier. “No matter what your field is, everyone needs to know something about organizing information.”
WIAD is a free event, made by possible by volunteers and the sponsorship of local companies like The Understanding Group (TUG), which has an enduring interest in growing and supporting the local IA and UX community. Dan Klyn, co-founder of The Understanding Group and four-time WIAD speaker, says, “the only thing better than going to some other city to attend a conference about IA is having a world-class IA event in your backyard. Ann Arbor played a crucial role in the birth of the discipline of information architecture, and we’re determined to continue shaping its evolution.”
Dan Klyn will be speaking on “DUMB: Five Patterns from the Work of Richard Saul Wurman.” TUG information architect and author Andrew Hinton, will give a talk on his new book, Understanding Context. Kaarin Hoff, TUG information architect, will also be giving a lightning talk about “Lessons Learned from Choose Your Own Adventure.”
Those who attend the Ann Arbor WIAD conference should expect a relaxed atmosphere that includes plenty of breaks when people can mingle, check out sponsor tables and share ideas. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. and presentations start at 9:30 a.m., but Carrier urges people get there early to enjoy the continental breakfast and meet others. There will also be a casual gathering after the event ends at 5:00 p.m., when participants can continue to talk and share ideas. “There is something really powerful in hearing from different people about what you already do. It expands your knowledge,” says Carrier.