A Preliminary IA Bibliography
When some two years ago we started working on what was to become the Journal of Information Architecture, I had already started charting what academia was thinking and writing on the subject of IA. It was not easy, as the one word which could basically explain how the field looked was 'fractured'
You didn't find research (and researchers) and papers where you supposed they were to be found, but in the most improbable places, journals, and conferences (the various *IA* conferences not withstanding of course, but these provided little in terms of academic engagement)1.
Anyway, it took me some time, but then I started to see that my initial idea that little had been done was somewhat skewed by the way the papers tended to cluster around certain places, topics, and people. I had to dig deeper into certain areas because of my own doctoral research, namely into the history and critique of IA, in the boundary zones that led to the online handling of manuscripts and digital libraries, and then in the way cross-media, ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence were re-shaping the field. In the end, what I found out was that while certainly spotty and badly disconnected (where the hell do all of these researchers go to talk about IA? To business informatics conferences?) from most of the mainstream developments in the field, research is definitely there.
I think I collected more than 400 individual papers or references to papers that have IA as either their primary focus or as one of the base components of their theoretical or applied vision. After a few months of just ignoring them while me and Luca Rosati were laying out most of the book on Pervasive IA due early 2011 for Morgan Kauffmann, I found myself now sifting through them again and again because I need to revisit a lot of them from different angles, either connected to developments in our model we didn't anticipate, or for the whole new thread which is slowly building up on the maturing of IA as a practice and a discipline2.
For this very reason, I needed to finally find a way to sort everything out which was at least half decent (how IA). I have an IA-related book library/group on anobii3 which has been open for quite some time, but I realize that anobii is not that mainstream for reasons I do not care very much to explore, and it requires a membership if you really want to participate in things (but then, OTHO, who doesn't? And you can take a look at the books without being a member. Oh well). Plus, it's just books. So, when me and Keith Instone started working on the Bridging Research and Practice recap from our session at the IA Summit 2010 for the Bulletin of the ASIS&T, I understood it was time to set the cattle free to pasture in the field (hu? And that's a metaphor?) and move some of my notes, ODT files, spreadsheets and whatnot to some place others could access. As I needed to actually have something that in the end could provide me with the added value of working some bibliographical magic for me, I chose Mendeley and I started building an open list of IA papers over there.
It's an ongoing effort, it will be as long as it will be alive, it is by no far either complete or representative, but it's there and it definitely shows there is something we can call IA research. If you want to take a look or lend a hand, just point your browsers to the Information Architecture Library.
The next step for me will be to move one step up the ladder, and as much as we are trying to build bridges between the community and practice and academia, connect these loose bits and pieces into a coherent vision for the redesign of the IA Institute Library. If you have ideas, drop a comment. I'm listening.