Pervasive IA Workshop

The Pervasive Information Architecture book is now getting into the final stages of production and it's going to be generally available the last week of March. That's also to say that if the gods of publishing and punctuality do not let us down, I should have a few copies of the book with me in Denver for the IA Summit.

If you don't know about the book, Peter Morville in the Foreword says it's "an ingenious collection of medium-independent heuristics to guide the complex decisions that lie ahead ... a map to the future of cross-channel design". I call it a book that brings IA into the 21st century.

Pervasive Information Architecture is the result of roughly four years of work and research, and is co-authored by yours truly and Luca Rosati, who is not only a good friend but also the most influential and talented IA you could decide to hire in Italy. Its basic tenet is that IA is not just about websites, not anymore. Information is going everywhere and "(c)yberspace is not a place you go to but rather a layer tightly integrated into the world around us"1, and IA is the layer that has to bring the different silos together in one continuous flow for a better user experience.

The book establishes a few ideas about how the design of ubiquitous ecologies and pervasive information architectures presents uniques challenges and opportunities, and is characterized by being an iterative, holistic, imprecise process, we drive home by means of a heuristic methodology2 based on what we call the CHU model or CHU cube (friends and family call it CHUbe), comprising Channels, the different media, devices, or environments; Heuristics, our design guidelines or indicators; and User-tasks, the various actions that the system allows or encourages.

The 3 axes in the CHU model

Now, practicalities.

I have been holding my fair share of workshops, with very different audiences and on quite different topics. In the heyday of my (short) career as an industrial designer it was models, and making stuff out of balsa wood and cardboard. Then it became explaining this Web thing and how to work with it to small companies. It is now mostly professionals and students and IA-related topics.

But this workshop is going to be special: we are presenting the results of a long elaboration process. So, what is it going to be like?

Let me tell you one thing: it will be a prime, but this won't be the first time I give this workshop. Me and Luca are already working on some of the materials we assembled from our own professional practice through the years and on the sketches we drew while we were writing the book, building a storyline and turning some examples into exercises. Then I will be running tests for most of March, trying out different combinations and trying to assess what works best, what makes understanding how to design pervasive information architectures easiest and comfortable.

If the final structure holds, once we are done with introducing ourselves, we will have a brief cross-channel surprise experiment, and then I will introduce the idea of IA as a pervasive layer, and its design methodology, with a few stories from the book which will explain what the experiment was all about in the first place.

Then we'll get our hands dirty with a full-blown design exercise (or exercises) meant to acquaint us with the five heuristics (place-making, consistence, resilience, reduction, correlation), the CHU cube model, and what it means to design an information architecture which is successfully cross-channel. We will use pen and paper and plenty of coffee, and the only skill that is really required3 to get out of the workshop room with some valuable take-away is that you bear with my accent. I promise not to do my impression of the Swedish Chef, though.

The book website will start to see some much needed action as soon as we hear that 'Print!' from our publisher Morgan Kauffman, and we expect to have a lot more on the specifics and on the methodology online by March 30. For now, and until Feb 18 2011, you can still grab the reduced, early-bird fee for the workshop and get first-hand experience in Denver. If you want to register, I'll be glad to be your host. See you there?

  • 1. Which is a damn good description of what's going. Thanks Institute for the Future
  • 2. All of Part 2 is devoted to explaining the five heuristics (place-making, consistency, resilience, reduction, and correlation) by means of examples and storytelling and
  • 3. Apart from being interested in IA, of course
My Dad's portable Underwood
A few notes on the workshop on pervasive information architecture I will be presenting at the 12th ASIS&T IA Summit in Denver, USA, March 30 2011.

Big rock small rock

Information architecture, way-finding, user experience, and design.

Usability banzai

Title says it all. The Takeshi's Castle of web site usability

Life in the tech lane

I used to be a sysadmin, and I still rsync now and then.

Daglig Svenska

The undersea adventures of getting settled in Sweden. Just details from a very small picture.