2018 IA Summit

The final IA Summit took place in downtown Chicago March 21st through 25th. Thousands of information architects, user experience professionals, and designers converged on the Hilton for a weekend based around the theme of Convergence.


There Is No Artificial Intelligence Without Information Architects

The opening keynote by Seth Earley set the tone for the weekend by encouraging the community to think of themselves as data scientists as well as designers. Given that machine learning is useless without well structured input what can information architects do to apply their experience to the problems of artificial intelligence.




Our Eternal Digital Afterlife

In science fiction the notion of digital life after death has been a staple for decades. In the real world we have finally reached a time when someone’s presence can last long after their physical death. Alberta Soranzo lays out the ethical challenges of designing for these situations and what takeaways we can draw from approaches taken by platforms like Facebook and Google.




A Noble, Logical Diagram: Lessons from the 1909 Plan of Chicago

In the early 20th century Daniel Burnham and several associates conceived a vision for bringing the city of Chicago into the modern era. This 1909 Plan would set the tone for city planning. In this session Kate Callahan looks at its takeaways and what they can teach us about using the past to design a better future.




Information Management: Its the Metadata

Few systems can function effectively without an intentionally designed set of structured data models. Dalia Levine draws from her time at HBO to unpack the basics of metadata, what types to consider in what circumstances, and how to sell the importance of proper metadata strategy to the rest of your product team or organization.




Architecting a System of Effective Communication

Often times when two people are talking to each other they leave with the illusion of having communicated their ideas. More likely than not they were actually talking around them instead. In this tandem talk Amanda Ruzin and Seth Dobbs lay out tips for how to make sure that communication is actually bidirectional, when to stand up for your ideas and when to be flexible, and methods for ensuring that the team is using shared vocabularies and thus on the same page.





Different is the New Normal: Why Everyone Benefits When We Design for Disability

Disability is something that everyone will face at some point in their life. Whether it be a permanent disability, like blindness, or a short term one, like a broken wrist, we will all face circumstances where “normal” does not fit our needs. Elise Roy urges user experience professionals to throw out the notion of average and use their powers to come up with solutions for the entire community.




Neolithic Information Seeking

Having spent decades studying the ways that people search for and process information Marcia Bates is an expert who has encouraged entire generations of librarians and information professionals. In this opening keynote from the second day of the IA Summit she looks forward at the way that people will seek content in the future. What can the past teach us as designers about the direction of the future?




Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich?

In many traditions the power to name things is one of the greatest that a person can possess. Bob Kasenchak urges everyone to remember that with great power comes great responsibility. As a newly appointed appellomancer it is our duty to weigh ethics into our categorization schemes and try to avoid bias as much as possible. After all who is to say that Southern Comfort is or is not actually a whiskey (besides the clerks at the liquor store)?




No Static: IA for Dynamic Information Environments

Duane Degler builds on past IA Summit presentations to construct a framework for thinking about the relationship between information and its environment. How much importance does the context play in the way that people process information? How can we break free of our silos while still maintaining control over our data?




Folk Illusions: Embodied Cognition for Today’s World

Embodied cognition is the principle that some of what we understand comes from the environment around us rather than internal knowledge. In this session Clai Rice draws on his research into optical illusions to demonstrate how information architects can think about the ways that people perceive the world.




Postcards From the Edge

In the closing keynote for the second day in Chicago Jason Hobbs spoke to the community about the nature of information architecture. What is it that makes the field what it is? Is it more art or more science? What are the core truths that we can apply to our daily practice?




An Alphabet of Accessibility Issues

All of us have or will face accessibility issues whether it be due to genetics, an accident, or simply old age. From A to Z Anne Gibson breaks down twenty six accessibility concerns for designers who want to ensure that their content is available to everyone. Let’s rethink the “normal” web.




Designs of the Artificial

What does it mean to be artificial? Everything in the world created by people is artificial to some extent. Every day we interact with man made systems like GPS navigation, recommendation engines for where to eat dinner, and more. Even the humble Post It note can adjust to its environment. In this session Karl Fast unpacks what it means to adjust our perspective on the concept of artificiality.




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Closing Keynote

Everything at this year’s IA Summit converged towards this final keynote. In the closing plenary Marsha Haverty reflects back on the culture of information. How can we apply our design principles to interfaces that don’t have a visual aspect? What contexts will the information we create inhabit that we may not have anticipated? In this keynote the challenge is issued to think about the edges and look closely at what is coming.