of The American Society for Information Science

Vol. 26, No. 5

June/July 2000

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ASIS Summit 2000: A Special Report

by Irene L. Travis, editor of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science

The ASIS Summit 2000 on Information Architecture was a big event for all of us who attended. ASIS is offering a home to the varied information professionals who call themselves "information architects" or "experience architects" or any number of other titles. Most are involved in designing and implementing complex Websites - a challenging multidisciplinary task. 

I am sorry that so few of us could be in Boston to revel in this rich mix. Those ASIS members who complain that allied fields such as digital libraries and information retrieval have not been sufficiently sensitive to the user side of design would have had a very pleasant experience at this meeting. User-centered design and CHI were much discussed and labeled as essential to the enterprise. Those of us (like your editor) who have an information organization background, of course, found much of interest, but the information producers and database designers were not forgotten either. Content, content design and content designers were much in evidence along with groups less often seen at ASIS, such as graphic artists, instructional designers and people with advertising and communications backgrounds.

These groups not only came together at the summit, but they also meet each other in the workplace. Building complex Websites is a team operation, and I hypothesize that the unusual ability of this group to engage in productive cross-disciplinary communication came from our on-the-job experience.

The summit occurred only a week before this issue of the Bulletin was due to go to press. As a result we have limited coverage, but I am pleased because it comes from a relatively new member of ASIS, Rick Zwies of the Getty Research Institute, and from two Ph.D. students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Sheila Denn and Kelly Maglaughlin. I am always very happy when the Bulletin can sponsor new voices and provide fresh perspectives. Rick's article was originally a back-to-office report for the Getty, which he reworked for publication on a very tight schedule. I am very grateful to him. Sheila and Kelly, on the other hand, were "volunteered" for this enterprise by Gary Marchionini, one of the organizers of the event. Anyone who knows Gary will recognize that it was useless to resist. However, the two grad students more than rose to the occasion and produced a fine overview of their experience. In subsequent issues we hope to present the perspectives of many of the other groups and professionals that attended along with substantive discussions of practice. 

Many other participants have described their reactions on sigia-l, the new ASIS information architecture list, and I refer you to it for additional views. For information on how to subscribe to the list or the list digest, please see the report of the summit by Executive Director Dick Hill, which is the first article in this special report.

I would also like to add my personal thanks to the organizers, Lou Rosenfeld, Gary Marchionini and Vic Rosenberg, for a job very well done.


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