of the American Society for Information Science and Technology       Vol. 27, No. 4              April / May 2001

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Joseph A. Busch, 2001 ASIST President

Who Are Information Architects and What Do They Want?

John Wiley & Sons, the publisher of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), has been conducting market research to understand better the JASIST audience. This research has included surveys of subscribers and authors as well as focus groups. The ASIST Board has coordinated with Wiley during this process to help us better understand who our members are and the gap between the products and services we offer and those which would meet your expectations and needs. I observed one of the Wiley focus groups held during the Information Architecture (IA) Summit, on February 2, 2001. I think this focus group was representative of the kinds of people who attend the summits some are ASIST members, some are not and some are deciding whether ASIST is the kind of organization they want to be part of. I believe that ASIST has a lot to offer the IA community and the IA community has a lot to offer ASIST, so I want to share some of the things I heard during this session.

Who are the people who attend IA Summits? Like most ASIST members, they are "content" people. The following table lists the job titles that people in the IA focus group used to describe themselves.

Who Are We?

Content Manager

Corporate Librarian

Internet Librarian

Knowledge Management Consultant

Project Manager

Technical Documentation Manager

Web Developer/Web Designer

What do content people value about ASIST? They value the quality of information. The JASIST editorial and technical program committee peer review processes are highly valued by content people because these processes insure the quality of ASIST-branded information ASIST = quality information . But the value would be even higher if it also were equally focused on vetting applied as well as academic research.

What do content people want from ASIST? Three key needs were highlighted by the people in the IA focus group local groups, a website and professional development.

What Are Our Interests?

Content Structure

XML, SGML, Metadata

Content Consistency

Taxonomies, Thesaurus, Controlled vocabularies

Content Access

Search engines, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Information Retrieval (IR), Full text retrieval, Intranets

Content Management

Project management, Interviewing, Content purchasing, Knowledge Management (KM)

Content Usability

Design, Interface, Navigation, Internationalization

  • Local IA Groups. Providing means for connecting with peers, to find people you can network with, local groups where you can interact outside of summit meetings is needed. An ASIST Special Interest Group on Information Architecture (SIG/IA) that will be chartered by the ASIST Board is being formed. But local IA groups are also desired. I am aware of local IA groups that are organizing in Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington. I am working with a newly appointed Board task force that will function as a steering committee of experienced ASIST people to facilitate the formation of IA chapters. This could take the form of connecting an IA group with an existing ASIST chapter in a region, or setting up a new chapter from scratch. The task force will work with ASIST Headquarters to prepare a chapter startup kit including a sign-up form, model bylaws, as well as instructions and guidelines for starting up a website, list serve and other communication and programming tools. (Task force members are Joseph Busch, Dick Hill, Steve Hardin, Karen Howell, Doug Kaylor, Michael Leach, Gary Marchionini and Victor Rosenberg.)
  • SIG-IA Website. A website that would be the primary destination for seeking practical information, case studies and applied research in information architecture is also needed. The IA list serve (SIGIA-L) has been an extremely effective channel for  people to raise questions and discuss issues over the past year. But an ASIST-branded IA-focused website is also desired. I have appointed a Board task force that is working with the Executive Director to develop a long term, end-to-end ASIST information architecture plan. (Task force members are Buzzy Basch, Joseph Busch, Dudee Chiang, Dick Hill, Karen Howell, Michael Leach, Gary Marchionini and Victor Rosenberg.)
  • IA Professional Development. A structured program of IA professional development is also needed. ASIST organizes continuing education workshops and seminars with a separate registration at its branded Annual and Summit Meetings. But a more structured curriculum that could be run as a multi-day program prior to the regular meetings possibly offering a form of certification is desired. I have referred this idea to the ASIST Information Science Education Committee (June Lester, chair), which will report to the Board before our summer meeting.

More News from the ASIST Board

  • A model business plan that will be used in planning future ASIST-branded institutes and summits was developed by the Board's Institutes/Summits Task Force.
  • A Board Digital Library Task Force was formed to inventory digital assets in the ASIST portfolio.
  • The Membership Committee has been working on a campaign to recruit personal and institutional members taking advantage of the ASIST name change.
  • The Digiscript recorded proceedings of the 2000 Annual Meeting will become available for subscription soon.
  • The IA Summit held in San Francisco, February 3-4, was a success. Presentation slides are available at www.asis.org/Conferences/SUMMITFINAL/index.html.
  • Annual Meeting 2001 contributed paper drafts and proposals for technical session were due on February 1.

Joseph A. Busch, 2001 ASIST President
E-mail:
jbusch@interwoven.com

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