July 2002

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I’ve been thinking a lot about a recent article in Wired magazine (Wired 10.08: The Bandwidth Capital of the World) about Korea. It brings to light some really important stuff about the Internet that we, in the anal, individualistic, capitalized West tend to ignore. Perhaps to our detriment.
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Today in Douglas Rushkoff’s weblog, there’s a post about AOL & Time Warner, and how so many “experts” still don’t get it. “It” being what AOL and the Internet actually mean to one another.
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I finally finished reading Small Pieces
Loosely Joined
. It took me quite a while because I was also writing a review
of it for Boxes &Arrows, which should be coming out as soon as they finish gutting and revising it so that it
makes sense. This is a tough book to review in 1500 words, and I cranked out a
wheelbarrow full of other stuff I was trying to say that I ended up taking out.
So, as a supplement, I’m going ahead and putting this very long and winding post.

If you’re interested in more of what I liked and wondered about in the book, read
away. If you really don’t care, that’s fine, it’s the Web! You can click to someplace else.

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Touch my wiki.

I just updated my bio page at IAwiki: AndrewHinton. I must confess, I haven’t been using wikis as much as I thought I might once I figured them out. But mainly it’s because I haven’t taken the time with them that they require to really make a dent. It’s like a huge communal garden. And I’m not much at gardening. Hell, I’m not much at homeowning either (I just cleaned my gutters after putting it off for a year; one of them is bent in the middle from all the crud it had collected.)
Perhaps I just haven’t encountered a wiki that really sucks me in strongly enough? I honestly grow bored of Information Architecture after a while and want to do something else. If there was a good wiki out there that collaborated on a huge story or narrative world of some kind, that would be excellent. Surely somebody has done that? Anybody know of one? (Comment if so.) I should go looking.

Peterme writes about some folks getting together for a friendly little retreat to discuss the intersection of Architecture, IT, Engineering and Communication design (each a circle in a Venn diagram) in some Thoughts on Design with a Big D.
I posted a comment. I’m not sure if I just ended up repeating what he already said, but I think what I was trying for was an explanation of how teams are going to evolve to greater depths of expertise for individuals, then people between those experts who can synthesize what they know and do, and yet another level of people who can manage the whole bunch while synthesizing the synthesizers…
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“2000 mockingbirds = 2 kilomockingbirds” and other wise equasions found at this helpful Metric Conversion Chart.

I’ve been reading bits and pieces of storytelling in business-storytelling in organizations, an archived set of materials from a symposium on the subject, hosted at Xerox-PARC.
I’m intrigued by what narrative and story have to do with IA. It isn’t addressed directly as such in this seminar, but there’s plenty that’s applicable.
If you think of an information architecture as a three-dimensional experience of storied language, where some stories are predetermined, some are created by the user, and some are created collaboratively between users, it becomes an Escher-like hall ideas and expression.
The Internet is a huge hall like this, with very little predetermined structure, but an information architect can create structural occasions and opportunities for others to follow. It could be a linear narrative (anything from an ecommerce workflow to a case study walkthrough) or on the other end of the spectrum, a wiki.
If we think of stories in the truly contemporary way, as socially constructed narratives that have as many dimensions and facets as reality itself, and we strip away the atoms and much of the baggage of conventional time and space, is what we are left with something very much like the Internet, or its more popular manifestation, the Web?