While lots of conferences might have a 2020 vision, we like to look at things differently – and sight is only one sense amongst many.
This year we want to celebrate the science of making sense and and the art of making mischief. We want to talk about how, when and why we encode, transmit, receive and interpret information. We’ll discuss what we can perceive and make available to the senses, the intelligence we use to interpret and understand things and the intentional actions that result when things make sense. In New Orleans we’ll explore sense-making (with a dose of serendipity) to see how we make sense of the world and the futures we face.
The realities we perceive and make available
Sense-making is foundational to IA. From wayfinding through landmarks to sniffing out information scent, finding starts with sensing. AR, VR and voice all involve more senses than sight. And in ‘everyday reality’ we have a sense of right and wrong. We have a sense of time. We can develop a sense of priority and importance. We have a valuable sense of humour. Laughing together builds bonds of empathy and trust.
Different people sense things differently. Each of us is capable of perceiving different and equally important factors from the same situation. At times we overestimate our ability to sense and detect things. Sometimes our sensing shuts down as we’re overwhelmed by too much information. Other things seem to stand outside our senses in a space that’s hard to define – trust, confidence, curiosity and creativity. But they are still felt and influence behaviours, beliefs and actions. How do people make sense of the world around them? And what senses will they be using to make sense of the worlds we create and extend?
The intelligences we use to make sense of what we perceive
While sense is how we gather information about the world, intelligence is how we transform and apply it to the world. How might we develop and cultivate different intelligences to make the most of our senses?
Will algorithms force out the “word smart” for the more mathematically minded? How valuable is resilience, heart, grit and courage in a world of uncertainty and change? How will we lead the next generation of information architects? How will we coach and nurture? How will we inspire? As we head into a new decade, one that may be shaped by the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning, what types of knowledge, skills and intelligence should we each cultivate to succeed as information architects?
The intentional actions that result from making sense
Sensing leads to more intentional action. A sense of urgency, scarcity and desire can each follow basic awareness to help us meet objectives and support people to achieve their goals, or ours. How does thinking about sense sharpen our ability to meet objectives and deliver value for our organisations?
While we celebrate the science of making sense we also give a nod to the art of making mischief. Intelligence requires all our senses – including our sense and interpretation of danger/seriousness, mischief/fun and the balance between the two. Mischief reveals what we might otherwise miss. But it can also be used to manipulate and obscure the truth. In a lot of ways our ability to balance sense and nonsense controls how we understand and experience the world.
As IAs, we meet big, hairy problems with tools that use all forms of intelligence and creativity – tools that involve our bodies, our empathy as well as our rational minds. We observe, interact, play games and create. The problems are still challenging, that’s true, and often scary. It’s why we need all our senses and all kinds of intelligence to face them.
During IAC20 we will interrogate and celebrate the huge variety of ways that we can sense, think and be in the world. Join us for a mix of workshops, talks and surprises. Follow us on Twitter for news of when we open the call for submissions.