The world has changed since our community last met in person in 2019. It is no exaggeration to say humanity had to adapt to survive—nearly 6.5 million people worldwide lost their lives to COVID-19 (likely many more).
As we gather for the 2023 Information Architecture Conference, we propose to examine how our industry, organizations, institutions and personal work deal with change. We will delve into how our approaches to it create, necessitate, or promote resilience.
Change: the only constant
Change can be good, bad, or innocuous. It can be gradual and imperceptible or sudden and dramatic. It can be caused by a single variable or a dizzying array of inputs. We can choose to embrace change, stand against it, or observe it from afar, adapting only when it has been normalized.
IA and its sibling disciplines have been defined by change. Incessant technological innovation, shifting and diverse populations, proliferating devices, channels and actors (human, machine, AI and more) have demanded more from the work we create. The ways in which we work and the organizations we work for have also been defined by change.
If today’s information spaces demand better architectures, and we as leaders are called upon to help contextualize, manage and drive this change. We’d like to ask:
- How are our personal practices, organizations, institutions, and industries responding to an ever-changing information landscape?
- How do we predict and adapt to increasing amounts, types, and complex information systems?
- How has IA evolved in response to our changing world? What classic tenets remain? What new ones must we explore?
- Are there approaches to introducing and managing change that need to be incorporated into how we practice and lead?
Resilience: not just adaptation
Resilience is contextual, and its perception reflects the lenses through which it is observed. It can be personal, communal, organizational, biological, environmental, and geographic.
In the built environment, resilience measures the ability of materials to bend without breaking. In business, it is an organization’s capacity to absorb stress, recover functionality, and thrive in altered circumstances. In technology, the ability to maintain acceptable service levels through, and beyond, severe disruptions to critical processes and systems. For human beings, resilience is the ability to move forward from adversity and manage stressors.
Often, human resilience (individual, communal, organizational) is incorrectly assumed to be based on strength. However, the care, forethought, and resources that an entity is provided prior to adversity, enable the flexibility and confidence needed to move forward. For humans, the cruelty of racism, sexism, classism, oppression, other forms of injustice, as well as environmental degradation necessitate resilience. We might ask if resistance or revolution are sometimes preferable to resilience in the face of systemic structures that produce inequity? These same considerations apply to information architecture and our work as IAs. We’d like to consider:
- Your experiences with resilience in (or applicable) to information architecture and your work as an IA.
- Can resilience be built into information systems? Should it be?
- In the face of adversity or stressors, how do we decide between adaptation, resistance, and capitulation?
Evolving the Practice of IA
As we consider change and resilience, we’d like to consider:
- What can adjacent and complementary fields such as Systems Thinking, Chaos, and Complexity theories teach IAs?
- And what can we learn from our sibling domains such as customer experience, user experience, HCI, and interaction design?
It’s all on the table at IAC23
In New Orleans we will convene as practitioners, academics, and members of related fields and domains to celebrate our extended and inclusive community, share our experiences, and consider Information Architecture’s role in adaptation, innovation, continuous improvement, and bettering our world.
We look forward to seeing you there!
The IAC23 workshop, talk proposal, and poster proposals window has ended.