Metaphors for Information Architecture

September 5th, 2005

After a particularly frustrating day at work a few weeks ago I vented with a couple of metaphors for Information Architecture on the train home. Off the laptop, here they are:

  • If you imagine a website as a prefectly geometric plane (like the light cycle grid in Tron, say), and the contents of the site as a few kilos of mixed pulses contained in a weak plastic bag, then information architecture is like tidying up the mess made by dropping the bag onto the plane from a height of, say, 1 kilometer. With a single chopstick. Clenched between the teeth.
  • Alternatively, practising IA is like building a jigsaw. Except you’re not given the lid, so you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like. And none of the pieces have straight edges so it’s hard to know where to begin and harder to know where to stop. And every so often a load of new pieces are dumped onto the table, and some more are removed from a bit that was just, maybe, starting to look recognisable. And you know when you’re done because you run out of time. It’s the kind of job that makes you sit around thinking up metaphors instead of actually doing it.

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