If information has world-shaping (ontological) power, what does it mean for information architecture to become an ethical, responsible field? What alternative forms of theory and practice are needed to address the challenges facing 21st-century IA?
We are entangled with multiple social, political, and environmental crises. The field of information architecture stands to contribute to these crises unless we transform it, and ourselves within it. This ongoing transformation must be systemic and reflexive: we approach our work in terms of complex systems, and we are aware how our work bears consequences in those systems.
Information Architecture in the Anthropocene invites us to imagine a field of IA beyond IA as we currently know it. In place of design and engineering traditions that have produced today’s unsustainable conditions, we find new ways to make sense of information practice through philosophy, anthropology, and biology. Many of our assumptions are challenged: the purpose of IA, our community identity, and the urgency of artificial intelligence. Perhaps this systemic, more pluralistic IA will involve practices and practitioners that we do not yet recognize. Information Architecture in the Anthropocene urges us to examine the limitations of IA today and to ask what kinds of information architects we want to embody in this complex world.
Dan Zollman (Cambridge, MA, US) is an information architecture, UX strategy, and human-centered design practitioner emphasizing design and IA in the public interest.
As an independent consultant, Dan offers clarity and insight for teams navigating difficult user experience problems. He has served organizations in state government (Mass.gov), higher education (Tufts University), finance (Vanguard), and the nonprofit sector.
Dan is a student of responsible, ethical, and systemic approaches to design. His contributions to IA theory and practice include a chapter in the recent book, Advances in Information Architecture (Resmini, Rice, & Irizarry, 2021).
As a community leader, Dan has organized the World IA Day Boston conference, co-organized the IA Academics & Practitioners Roundtable, facilitated discussions and events on ethical design, and held multiple presenter and volunteer roles at the IA Summit/IA Conference.