I played a small role in starting the IA Institute five years (and 30 lbs) ago, but I can’t take credit for the success it’s had since. Lots of dedicated people have worked very hard on it during that time.
Recently I became a little more involved, when Stacy Surla gently prodded me into helping with an initiative around Second Life. The IAI has purchased an island there, close to a cluster of info-science/education themed islands called the “Information Archipelago.” It may seem like putting the cart before the horse, but the challenge with something as radically new as Second Life is that you don’t really know how you’re going to use it until you start using it.
At any rate, someone in the area (in the ‘game’) saw what we were up to and asked if he could interview us for a podcast. He and Stacy graciously put up with my rambling answers — I think he said initially it was to be a 15 minute podcast, but it turned out to be a half hour — and posted the finished product. Here’s a link, and the intro from the site.
I first met information architects Stacy Surla and Andrew Hinton as they were hammering the first planks together for their new island for the Information Architecture Institute. The space is just offshore from Cafe Fireball, so I got curious about what was going on over on the new plot of land. What I discovered was that the IAI is keenly interested in creating real world, online and Second Life experiences that let users get work done, find there way around and find the information they need easily and sensibly.
It’s an interesting experience being interviewed about this stuff, because it creates a bit of pressure to actually formulate an articulate answer about things that you can normally fudge on in your own head or in quick conversations with others.
In a nutshell, the reason why I think Second Life is a worthy laboratory for the IAI is this: Increasingly our physical environment is going to turn into a hybrid of semantic and concrete, with the rise of ubicomp. Why not experiment, get our feet wet and learn valuable lessons, in an environment that is already a three-dimensional semantic space?
I may jot more thoughts about this later here … it’ll also be relevant for a panel Stacy Surla is planning for the IA Summit.
Hope to see you there!