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Verum Factum: making the world with language | Andrew Hinton #IIAS15

As Giambattista Vico uttered centuries ago, "the truth, itself, is made." And, as humans, most of our truth is made with language. What does this mean for Information Architecture, and those who practice it? In this presentation, we will explore that question. First, we'll establish what sort of material language is, and then we'll look at how IA uses it to shape the human environment.

Andrew Hinton is an information architect at The Understanding Group, and the author of Understanding Context. Since the early 90s he’s worked with companies to make habitable, delightful environments out of information. Andrew lives in a weird little neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Online, he tweets at @inkblurt and keeps a bunch of links about Andrew­t-hings at andrewhinton.com.

Social media link:
https://twitter.com/inkblurt

Verum Factum: making the world with language | Andrew Hinton #IIAS15

  1. 1. PRESENTED BY Andrew Hinton | @inkblurt IASummit Italy, October 2015 VERUM FACTUM Making the World with Language
  2. 2. WHAT IS “SHOPPING CART”? 2
  3. 3. WILL THE REAL CART PLEASE STAND UP? 3
  4. 4. 4 = Business rules Software services User behaviors Interfaces Serial processes What parts of “cart” do you mean? All of these involve language.
  5. 5. 5 Physical Object Virtual Object Design is obsessed with tangible, visible objects...
  6. 6. 6 “That’s just semantics...”
  7. 7. 7
  8. 8. Language is a real medium for making. 8
  9. 9. 9 ENVIRONMENT
  10. 10. 10 Language is physical.
  11. 11. 11 Wikipedia
  12. 12. 12 “Vico’s Philosophy of Imagination” - Verene & Berlin, 1976
  13. 13. 13
  14. 14. Ecological Psychology James J. & Eleanor Gibson Radically empirical approach to understanding perception & behavior.
  15. 15. 15 Affordance James J Gibson “Dispositional properties of objects and events that provide opportunities for action to complementary organisms.” - Sabrina Golonka, PhD
  16. 16. 16 Invariants That which does not change in the midst of change. James J Gibson
  17. 17. ENVIRONMENT wikimedia Invariants
  18. 18. ENVIRONMENT wikimedia What manner of invariants?
  19. 19. 19 Words Pictures Symbols … Language is environment.
  20. 20. 20 WE LIVE IN MAPS
  21. 21. CONTEXT CONTROLS CONDUCT THE WAY WE SHAPE OUR ENVIRONMENT SHAPES OUR LIVES 21
  22. 22. LANGUAGE MAKES MAPS THAT ARE TERRITORIES ENVIRONMENTS WE INHABIT TOGETHER 22 Organizational diagram of the New York and Erie Railroad, 1855
  23. 23. LANGUAGE IS ENVIRONMENT 23 Language is “a form of mind- transforming cognitive scaffolding...” ... “Simple labeling adds a new realm of perceptible objects.” - Andy Clark, Supersizing the Mind http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CantileverScaffold.jpg
  24. 24. 24 LANGUAGE IS THE INTERFACE WITH COMPLEX HUMAN SYSTEMS
  25. 25. 25 Language is invariant only by convention. Many layers of “meaning.”
  26. 26. 26 VARIANT!
  27. 27. 28 “elevator” “button” over a century of cultural invariant convention [context]
  28. 28. 29
  29. 29. 30 Understanding Context, Andrew Hinton, O’Reilly Media 2014
  30. 30. 31
  31. 31. 32 Wikipedia
  32. 32. 33
  33. 33. wikimedia Digital agents, behaving invisibly.
  34. 34. APPROXIMATE INCREASE IN ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLEXITY OVER TIME* Complexity added to human environment No big whoop. OMG PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!!!!!! What’s complexity? We’re so modern! Learn a new app? Uh. Ok. I have no idea what my phone is doing. I have no idea what my house is doing. Time Olden times Fin de siècle * according to Andrew Hinton’s feelings on the subject. Industrial Revolution “Information Age” 21st Century
  35. 35. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS “NO UI”
  36. 36. 37 wikimedia Interface (Machine to Machine)
  37. 37. 38 Interface (Machine to Human)
  38. 38. 39 https://www.google.com/patents/US8558759 From Google’s patent for telling a digital agent you “love” something.
  39. 39. 40
  40. 40. 41 Captured from Twitter on September 22, 2015
  41. 41. 42 Mashable XBox reading user’s skeleton & heartbeat
  42. 42. APPROXIMATE INCREASE IN ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLEXITY OVER TIME* Complexity added to human environment No big whoop. OMG PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!!!!!! What’s complexity? We’re so modern! Learn a new app? Uh. Ok. I have no idea what my phone is doing. I have no idea what my house is doing. Time Olden times Fin de siècle * according to Andrew Hinton’s feelings on the subject. Industrial Revolution “Information Age” 21st Century
  43. 43. Often, the assumed answer to complexity is simplicity.
  44. 44. THE “CLOUD” 45
  45. 45. 46 Interviewer: What do good information architects do? R.S. Wurman: They make the complex clear; they make the information understandable to other human beings. If they succeed in doing that, they're good information architects. If they fail, they're not. http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=334428
  46. 46. The answer to COMPLEXITY is CLARITY… not mere “Simplicity.”
  47. 47. 48 IA “Composition” …
  48. 48. Your mission … Go forth and compose a better human world.
  49. 49. 50 GRAZIE! ANDREW HINTON | @INKBLURT AH@ANDREWHINTON.COM CONTEXTBOOK.COM

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