Today’s guest post is written by Keith Doyle, who will be giving a plenary talk on The Promise of Information Architecture at this year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop.

I have been asked to present a plenary session at this year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop on The Promise of Information Architecture. But what are promise, information and architecture? According to

promise (n.)
c.1400, from L. promissum “a promise,” noun use of neuter pp. of promittere “send forth, foretell, promise,” from pro- “before” + mittere “to put, send”…
1387, “act of informing,” from O.Fr. informacion, from L. informationem (nom. informatio) “outline, concept, idea,” noun of action from informare … Meaning “knowledge communicated” is from c.1450…
1563, from M.Fr. architecte, from L. architectus, from Gk. arkhitekton “master builder,” from arkhi- “chief” (see archon) + tekton “builder, carpenter”…

The word promise is usually positive. Otherwise the session might have been called “The Despair of Information Architecture”.

For a circular definition: information is knowledge communicated, and knowledge is information with judgement. But information does have context which gives meaning to data. A paragraph is data; a blog post is information; a link to a blog post is knowledge.

Literally, the architect is the master (sic) builder, the one who might be present at the building site, but doesn’t engage in bricklaying, plastering or interior design; who does make the plans and does ensure that they are implemented as visualised by the commissioning body.

With extreme etymology, the plenary will offer a “declaration about the future impact that master building will have on contextual data.” The architect gives shape to a building so that it may serve its purpose. The information architect gives shape to the content framework so that the content might be findable, useful and used.

Keith Doyle
Web Content Architect
University of Salford

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