2020 Main Conference Talk
In these uncertain times, it often seems like things just don’t make sense. In all areas of our lives we struggle with an abundance of information poorly arranged at best, and intentionally deceptive at worst. Information Architecture has a unique professional perspective that many of us recognize as important, but too often we are situating IA being a solution to this chaos because it, and we, can access the Truth. It is a dangerous rhetorical position, to claim that we are a community uniquely suited to find and tell the Truth, as defined by alignment with Objective Reality, and we are setting ourselves up to be the bad guys of the future. IA is not about spreading Objective Truth, it is about creating things that are true because they align with the diverse subjective understandings of a group of people, the local reality of a constructed system (e.g. a business’s inventory system), and with the goals we have for the thing we are making.
This talk will offer a framing for thinking about what we can honestly claim that Information Architecture does, and argue that to do our work ethically we must let go of reliance on the authority of an external Truth and develop clear ways to talk about who we listen to, and how we navigate complex and contradictory truth claims.
About the speaker(s)
Kat King is an information architect interested in language, and meaning, and what it takes to do Good work. She works for the University of Michigan Library in the Library Environments department, where she works on projects that help the library strategically plan for changes to their spaces and work processes, understand data about collections and building use, and shift towards a more user centered service design process. Her previous work has included consulting for non-profits, and teaching IA to undergraduates.