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thoughts and observations about design, information architecture and design history
Wednesday 05|31|06

Reading Peterme's post about being without a tribe struck a nerve with me. I have been feeling like I am ungrounded lately. Several years ago it was super clear. Being very involved in getting Boxes and Arrows off the ground, then kickstarting the IA Institute (known as AIFIA at the time), continued editing and writing for B&A and working hard to contribute to the community, it was clear where I belonged and where my place was in the bigger picture of our community. The last couple of years though I have felt that the organizations — AIGA, BayChi, IA Institute and others — aren't quite meeting my needs as far as networking and career development is concerned.

Like Peter mentions, the place I feel most at home is with the folks at the IA Summit. This may be because it feels like coming home. I know so many of these folks and have gone through the cycles of jobs, layoffs, starting over and growing up with many of these people.

But all that said, I still don't think this is quite right either. Lately I have been wondering if some of this is because I am a manager in a large corporate environment. While design, interactions and IA work are important to me, I am not practicing actively anymore. The details of HOW to do the job are not that important to me personally.

Business conversations and conferences seem more geared to the entrepeneur and the consultant. The issues I face — The concerns I have are more centered around growing a team, managing creatives within a rapid development environment, differentiating design across a matrixed organization and still trying to make an impact on our community in and out of the workspace — the network and mentoring I need doesn't seem to be readily apparent.

Seeing a trend from a few years ago - being in the thick of creating a new thing for us - I wonder...

Perhaps it is time to CREATE something new to meet this need?

Are there others out there like me looking for support from a like community?

Posted by erin at 11:25 PM | in People :: | Link

Saturday 12| 6|03
DesignWritings Retirement?

As I am sure you have noticed by now, I am not keeping DesignWritings up very well lately. My photographic life, my job and Boxes and Arrows, as well as some recent health issues, have left me little time to write about design.

I am also working on a book—based on the Doctor Leslie Project—and due to recently finding a publisher, I now need to actually spend time writing and finishing my research for the book.

I may keep a blog about the book writing, I may not. I may come back to this next year when I have a draft in hand and I may not—it may be time to move on.

I want to thank all those who have been faithful readers over the last three years. I appreciate the dialog, the friends I have made and the pointers to some great sites along the way.

In my absence, I highly recommend the following:

Posted by erin at 05:31 PM | in People :: | Link | Comments (5)

Friday 11| 1|02
Discussing the interview

Interesting discussion over at Web Word about the interview with Jesse James Garrett. Folks are debating his point about why people don't know the names of the folks behind the design and usability of sites like Amazon.

Actually, I do know the name of one of their designers, who has corresponded with me about some of my comments about Amazon's designs. So they are out there, just quietly toiling away doing cool things.

Posted by erin at 10:46 AM | in People :: | Link | Comments (1)

Wednesday 07|17|02
Designer Trading Cards

Found these the other day. Kind of a neat idea - distill the major facts and stats of some of our most influential designers into trading cards - a la baseball cards. These first ones are mostly type designers - Eric Gill, Stanley Morison, Beatrice Warde - and book designers. Longer biographies are on the website.

The concept is cool and I am interested to see who they are going to add next. It's a nice quick way to learn about folks that left important legacies that we can learn from. Learning can be fun.

I recall the AIGA chapter in Boston created a set of trading cards for their designer members in the early 90's. I still have them.

Posted by erin at 08:01 PM | in History :: People :: | Link

Wednesday 02|20|02
Hockney Interview

While exploring the Getty Museum site, I came across their video gallery. This video interview (requires Real) with David Hockney talks about the Pearblossom Highway piece and about his process for making the image/collage and his way of seeing. Interesting stuff.

Other weird videos are featured on their homepage in a Video of the day feature.

Posted by erin at 10:09 PM | in People :: | Link

Tuesday 03|13|01
Goodbye Argus

Today we received notice that Argus was folding up shop. The news has reverberated across the IA community and people are lining up to comment and share their stories. It many ways what we are all doing is akin to a wake. Christina Wodtke sums it up well in elegant hack.

I remember 4 years ago when I first came across the Richard Saul Wurman book Information Architects and there was a definition of what that was in the book. I read it and realized that, that was what I did. All day. Every day. I asked my boss if I could change my title from Senior Graphic Designer to Information Architect. He laughed at me and said "what is that? That isn't a title or a real job. I have never heard of an Information Architect."

It wasn't until I got the O'Reilly book by Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville that I was finally vindicated - that this truly is a field with responsibilities and accountablitliy. It has a name and a scope of territory. I proudly call myself an Information Architect and bless Lou and Peter for paving the way. As my career has evolved from traditional graphic design into this wonderful world of IA, I see that in many ways, we are still having to fight the fight and justify why we need to be part of the team, why IA is as important or even more important than the visual design.

I met Lou this summer at the Advance for Design summit in Telluride. I gave him a hard time for the scathing review he did of the redesign of the AltaVIsta site that had launched in 1999. His points were right on and it was hard not to agree. I had worked on the part of the site run by the New Media division, and we had been told not to worry about the rest of the site. The outside world doesn't know what the inside issues are - politics, territorial groups in different divisions, etc. Later on, when we were giving our presentations, I sat in on Lou's and realized that the artifacts he was showing were very similar to mine. The process used to get from the beginning to the end was also the same. In my own work, as I evolved, I thought I had made a lot of stuff up. Seeing Lou's work from Argus, validated my work and the way my team worked in our company and I realized that there is a collective unconscious in our way of working.

Without Argus, we are all a little poorer and will have to work a little harder to make sure that we persevere. I am confident that these talented individuals will go on to spawn a new generation of firms out there and I look forward to seeing it.

Posted by erin at 09:25 PM | in People :: | Link

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DUX—Five Lessons Learned

Coloring Outside the Lines

Modeling the Creative Organization

Coming of Age

Talking With Jesse James Garrett

The Tool Makes the (Wo)man

AIGA Experience Design Summit #5 - Recap

AIGA Experience Design - past, present and future: An interview with Terry Swack and Clement Mok

Summit Beginnings: Saturday

Chicken Run: Summit Closing: Sunday

design history articles
Foreseeing the future: The legacy of Vannevar Bush

Learning from the Powers of Ten

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