IA Blog 1 – Information Architecture

IA Blog 1 – Information Architecture

  1. What is information? Describe the qualities of information.

Information is the re-telling of a discovery. This re-telling then becomes informative and the receiver of said information then makes the appropriate decisions required to achieve a particular or list of objectives. Information typically represents known facts but can also represent recorded experiences. A preconceived notion however is an assumption made prior to experiencing or learning of past discoveries.

According to Mai (2013) “information quality is contextual to the particular situation in which the information is used”. While a lot of intangible quality exists within the practice of good information architecture, as iterated by Morville, P. (1998), quality traits of information in regards to information architecture is often considered to be (Brian, 2012):

  • timelines
  • relevancy
  • understandability
  • accuracy
  • completeness
  • straightforwardness
  • trustworthiness

2. What is the Dewey Decimal System? Describe how it operates.

A proprietary library classification system, introduced by Melvil Dewey in 1876, originated in the United States as the Dewey Decimal System (Wikipedia, 2015).

Based on the concepts of relative location and relative index, the Dewey Decimal System allows for the indexing of books in a library dependent of their subject matter. This indexing also allows for quick location and collection (Wikipedia, 2015).

3. Explain what Library Science is.

Utilising the knowledge, experiences and capabilities of education, information technology, management, and other disciplines, library science aims to further enhance the organisation, collection, preservation and dissemination of information.

4. What is information architecture?

Information Architecture can be described as the discipline responsible for developing a design which allows for the categorical collection of information in such a way that maps its relationships and allows for easy and efficient retrieval.

5. List and describe at least three reasons for why information architecture is important (i.e.,

the return on investment for hiring an information architect).

  • Information Architecture is the study of information organisation. To better equip those responsible for the organisation, to organise the information in a way that best allows for effective and efficient retrieval.
  • This more efficient retrieval will mean for a more efficient and productive work force.
  • A company’s customers will also benefit from retrieving the most relevant information, quickly and easily. This will encourage return customers and possibly deter customers from using other sites.
  • These faster retrieval processes will also positively impact the computer hardware and software involved in storing said information because it will lower demand and potentially bandwidth.
  • Can reduce initial outlay for construction/maintenance because proper planning prevents poor performance.

6. List and describe the four key information architecture concepts that help information

architects articulate user needs and behaviours.

  • Complex Systems
    • The amalgamation of Context, Content and Users each with their interdependencies integrating in the most efficient way possible to achieve an outcome desired by all.
  • Invisible Work
    • The work that goes on behind scenes and the existing, under-pinning architecture of information networks and technology that provides users with the desired answers.
  • Knowledge Networks
    • Users’ interactions amongst other users and information networks.
  • Information Seeking Behaviour
    • What behaviours do users exhibit when seeking information on a website?

7. List and describe the three main information architecture systems that support a web site.

  • Searching Systems
    • Systems put in place that accept a user’s query, process that through query builders with query language to the search engine, sorting through content that is indexed with metadata and controlled vocabularies to produce results prioritised based on ranking and classification algorithms, finally dependant on the interface design.
  • Navigation Systems
    • Navigation Systems are the systems put in place allowing for browsing through a website’s content using directed hyperlinks.
  • Semantic Networks
    • Semantic Networks are networks that consolidate information pieces based on the relationships between them, similarities and differences.

8. List and describe the four main information architecture deliverables.

  • Wireframes
    • Wireframes typically have varied levels of sophistication. Some may only depict the overall structure of a website while others may go more into detail on aesthetic qualities. Usually wireframes contain no visual design.
  • Blueprints
    • Showing the relationships between pages.
  • Controlled Vocabularies
    • A prescribed list of words/terms to more narrowly focus a search to the relevant and available information.
  • Metadata
    • The data that serves as a tag for individual pages, a tag that serves identification purposes for an individual page.

9. The following is a list of career titles related to this course. Research five titles from the list. Write a brief description for the title, what the key duties are, which potential companies will hire people with those skillsets, and what sort of remuneration is provided.

A/Director, Service Integration Management

Service Integration Management, also known as SIAM, is about supply chain, helping organisations maintain their own IT service process. Bringing together multiple outsourced parties into a single entity so there is some ownership, governance and management. This prevents one organisation dealing with multiple disconnected parties and the multiple parties are unified towards a particular goal. Government are very interested in finding people to perform this role. Consultancy organisations are also frequently fulfilling this role. While the average pay for this specific job role was too difficult to find, I was able to find out that Service Delivery Managers on average earn a salary of $100,371 per annum (Payscale, 2015).

  •  Asset Data Records Keeping
  •  Analyst Digital Marketing Consultant
  •  Director of Systems and Reporting
  •  Document and Records Coordinator
  •  Document Management Specialist
  •  Enterprise Content Management

Enterprise Content Management is a term referring to the organisation of an enterprise’s documents and other content that formally acknowledges an organisation’s processes and methods. “The average salary for a Content Manager is AU$65,285 per year” (Payscale, 2015)

Analyst

  •  EDRMS Management
  •  Information Architect
  •  Information and Records Management
  •  Knowledge Information Coordinator
  •  Marketing SEO Consultant
  •  Principal Records Coordinator
  •  Professional Web Content Writer
  •  Quality Assurance Project Manager
  •  Recordkeeping Advisor Records

Management Advisor

  •  Records Management Consultant
  •  Records Manager
  •  Senior Data Management Officer
  •  Search Engine Optimiser

According to Google, an SEO can review the structure and content of your site, offer advice on development, manage online campaigns and research keyboards. Whilst Google does not accept money to enhance an organisation’s ranking in the search results, there are ways to have more prominent listings such as Google AdWords, Sponsored links or simply optimising your site so it is picked up better by Google’s organic search (Google, 2015). According to Payscale, the average salary of a SEO is $51,815 (Payscale, 2015).

  •  Search Engine Optimisation Consultant
  •  SEO Manager
  •  Usability Designer
  •  UX Designer
  •  Usability/Information Architect
  •  UX Architect

A UX Architect is primarily concerned with the user experience, ensuring the site being designed is intuitive and user friendly for the target audience. Remaining true to the core, often business, objectives behind the site’s purpose, a UX Architect is mostly concerned with making sure the site’s design is not a wasted effort. While it is difficult to pinpoint the average salary of a UX Architect, an Information Technology Architect can expect approximately $122,105 in salary (Payscale 2015).

  • Web Developer/Designer

Creating and maintaining websites is the primary role of a Web Developer/Designer but with the growing Internet, often this profession is also forced to grow. A Web Developer working for a reputable firm could expect to receive between $30,000-$55,000 in remuneration. A Web Developer will often fulfil the role of a SEO. Experience plays a fundamental role in determining a web developer’s salary however according to Payscale, on average, people only last 10 years in the field. Payscale has determined that the median salary of a web developer is $53,518 (Payscale, 2015)

10. Check out the Information Architecture Institute. Comment on what sort of value you see such an institute being to the community. Place a link on your blog to the institute.

As self proclaimed, “The Information Architecture Institute supports individuals and organisations specialising in the design and construction of shared information environments.” The most benefit I see from the existence of this organisation is a single, unified body, representing the industry and everyone who works within it as a whole. Encouraging the advancement of the industry and the skill set, lobbying for government policy change when necessary and promoting sharing within the community (The Information Architecture Institute, 2015). The Information Architecture Institute: http://iainstitute.org

11. Describe what is meant by the term “information ecology”.

The Information Ecology model depicts an amalgamation of Context, Users and Content. The Information Ecology model forms the basis of practising effective information architecture design. This model clearly points out that Information Architecture cannot operate solely on its own, independent of surrounding variables and situations. These three constructs overlap and a correct Information Architect would work towards integrating these constructs in the most efficient manner possible. Context relates to the business operating the website, it’s corporate goals and available resources. Content refers to the actual information; what information is available, how much of it is there and how is that predicted to change in the future. Users are the real users of the application/website; what are their information needs and how do they typically go about searching for that information.

12. What is content management and how does it relate to information architecture?

Content Management describes the administration of content that allows for the most effective and efficient retrieval of said content. Content Management is an aspect of Information Architecture,  while Information Architecture is primarily concerned with the access to that administered and managed content; who will access it, how will they access it and what are they trying to gain from the access?

13. What is metadata and how is it used in information architecture?

Metadata, the data about data, is the term describing the tagging of documents. Whilst two forms exist, Structural and Descriptive, they both refer to data in that structural is the container and descriptive is in reference to the application or content of data. As Information Architecture is all about the organisation of content and providing access to that content, metadata is very useful for categorical organisation and efficient searching processes.

14. Explain why the “Too-Simple” information model is unrealistic for modelling users’ information seeking behaviours.

The “Too-Simple” Information Model is too mechanistic and algorithmic focused. The model too narrowly focuses on the interaction between the user and information architecture. The context surrounding the information seeking process, such as the user’s thought process before it commenced the search and how the user will interact with the information architecture, gets forgotten. In applications of the “Too-Simple” Information Model, users will often learn new things along the way or be lead a-stray which can distract them from achieving the original answer they wanted. At the end of the interaction, users are left in a state of partial satisfaction because they have not found the exact answer they really wanted.

15. Describe how a web site user typically finds information.

There are three ways in which users typically find information on the web: Searching, Browsing or Asking. Searching requires entering a query into a search engine. Browsing pertains to navigating through a website using hyperlinks. Asking is simply asking questions via the means of email or internet chat or just making a simple telephone call after hearing about something online.

16. What is known-item seeking? Give two examples.

Thought of as the “Perfect Catch” within the fishing analogy. The user knows what they want, what to call it and where to find it. Searching the Griffith Staff Directory to find a particular Staff member’s contact details (phone, email or facsimile) or office location. Another example is the postcode search on Australia Post, the user knows the name of the suburb but doesn’t know the exact postcode.

17. What is exploratory seeking? Give two examples.

The user is not exactly sure what he/she is looking for but is hoping to find a few useful items. This could be thought of as “Lobster Trapping” in the fishing analogy. The user, may or may not already know, but they are hoping to learn new things throughout the searching process. Exploratory searching often happens in the field of travel. When travelling or planning for travel, the user does not know everything, he/she may or may not know where exactly it is they want to go. If they know where they want to go, which hotel should they stay in. Do they wish to be in the nightclub district, near the wine vineyards, by the water or next to the convention centre? What should they see or do while they are visiting this city, the user should search “Things to do in X city”.

Another example of exploratory seeking is present when a user goes to a library looking for cook books. What type of cuisine does the user wish to cook or does he/she not exactly know?

18. What is exhaustive research? Give two examples.

The user is desperate for every piece of information on a particular topic. The user may be prepared to use every varied term in his/her many ways of explaining the search topic. A good example is the searching of “living life with a disability”. The user may be interested in finding out as much as possible from personal hygiene to driving or psychological and physiological impacts. Another example could be the research conducted when choosing a smart phone or any other piece of technology. The best consumer would seek multiple reviews and pieces of information about the technology.

19. What is re-finding? Give two examples.

Re-finding is exactly that, the finding of information that was found before but the user was unavailable to devote his/her full-attention to it so he/she re-finds that piece of information at a time that suits them. A good example of re-finding is; incidentally coming across a website, forgetting to bookmark said website and wanting to find it at a later date or on another computer.

20. What is the Berry Picking Model? Give an example of how you might search for a topic using the Berry Picking Model.

This model describes the information seeking process of a user who decides upon an information need, formulates an information request/query, then picks bits of information out whilst processing through the information system, like picking berries from a tree. Throughout this process a user will modify their query/information request as they learn more about what they need and what information is available within the system.

21. What is the Pearl Growing Model? Give an example of how you might search for a topic using the Pearl Growing Model.

The Pearl Growing Model describes a user who has 1 or 2 pieces of information/documentation that is exactly what they need but they want to get more, similar pieces. A good example of the Pearl Growing Model is a student completing an essay. The student may already have one or two documents, perhaps provided by the school, regarding the particular topic and those documents are precisely about that particular topic. Now it is the job of the student to search for other documents, written by other people, on that particular subject either supporting or negating the arguments put forth in the former documents.

22. Explain what search analytics is and how it helps you learn more about information needs and information seeking behaviours.

Search Analytics describes reviewing most commonly entered queries in a search to highlight potential problems with search performance, metadata, site navigation and site content. Can provide a form of ‘frequently asked questions’. It can help the site’s designer identify the general information needs of the site’s audience and how they interact with the website in the seeking behaviour they exhibit.

23. Explain what contextual enquiry is and how it helps you learn more about information needs and information seeking behaviours.

How do users interact with information in their “natural” settings, for what reason are they doing what they are doing? Contextual enquiry seeks to understand users on a deeper level. What are the users’ needs and how do they attempt to fulfil those needs.

24. Use the pearl growing method for information seeking to search for information about “Electronic Record and Documents Management” and “Digital Asset Management”. Using a minimum of 500 words:

  1. Describe what you found/learnt about “Electronic Record and Documents Management” and “Digital Asset Management”. (Remember to provide references to authoritative sources.)

When researching Electronic Records and Documents Management I was first alerted to a website dedicated to Electronic Document and Records Management Systems (EDRMS) and operated by the National Archives of Australia. Upon this website I was directed towards a document, ‘Implementing an EDRMS – Key Considerations’, which identified the primary considerations to make when deciding to implement such a system. It explains that “EDRMS is a software application that manages a range of digital information, including word-processed documents, spreadsheets, emails, images and scanned documents” (“Implementing an EDRMS – Key Considerations”, 2015). This document goes on listing the responsibilities of personnel fulfilling this role, responsibilities such as:

  • creating documents
  • capturing records
  • integrating with various applications
  • linking between records
  • deciding upon terms to identify records
  • maintaining contextual information such as metadata
  • managing secure access to records and identification of classified pieces
  • ensuring integrity
  • managing search mechanisms
  • managing access permissions
  • managing version controls and collaboration efforts
  • and more referring to deletion of records and retention periods

As listed within the document, “Implementing an EDRMS – Key Considerations” written and published by the National Archives of Australia (http://www.naa.gov.au), some benefits of implementing an EDRMS are as follows:

  • improves information management capability
  • enhances business productivity and efficiency
  • reduces business risks
  • ensures greater transparency
  • centralises and controls storage
  • ensures greater consistency

Digital Asset Management (DAM), according to the definition present on Google, “consists of management tasks and decisions surrounding the ingestion, annotation, cataloguing, storage, retrieval and distribution of digital assets” (“Digital asset management”, n.d.). This search on the Google search engine presented various results, from cloud storage services to software designed to administer the management of digital assets. Fortunately, Google also presented a result for Digital Asset Management by Widen (http://digitalassetmanagement.com) which explained DAM. Apart from offering an explanation, this website also encouraged a DAM community, advertising conferences and associations. Via this website I was also alerted to the existence of a DAM foundation and their website which boosts “a global community of DAM professionals” (http://damfoundation.org). This website offered a list of “Ten Core Characteristics of a DAM”. This list included ten key terms; “ingest, secure, store, render/transform, enrich, relate, process, find, preview, produce/publish”, all of which were in reference to the way assets and their content should be handled (DAM Foundation, 2015, “Ten Core Characteristics of a DAM”).

I was interested to learn about the industry, how it has developed and who is succeeding in this industry. Through the DAM Foundation, I was able to find a blog entry that was written by Elizabeth Keathley and Mark Davey that documented the results gained from a DAM Foundation Salary Survey. This was a two part survey, the first of which was conducted in 2012 and the second of which was conducted in 2014 “in an effort to build a continuous body of linear data on the demographics, duties, and salaries of Digital Asset Managers” (Elizabeth Keathley, Mark Davey, 2014). These results highlighted trends in the industry such as; pay rates, employment and staff turnover. The most alarming finding from this survey was a decrease in average salary and an increase for those who received a library science education. It also found the AGE of Digital Asset Managers was the largest predecessor of salary. According to the results, a great number of workers between the ages of 25 and 44 held a library science masters. It found that the number of workers in the 35-44 age bracket who held a library science degree increased by 7% between the two surveyed years. The remaining results reflected the general effects of globalisation, gender equality and rise in global education. Education availability and globalisation may be reasons why DAM has spread out of the traditional centres of London, New York and Southern California.

b) Describe your experience with using the pearl growing method and the processes you undertook.

Similarly to most searches performed online, I started this one at Google. From Google, the first search of “Electronic Record and Documents Management” presented a result that, at the top, under the paid advertisements, was a link to the National Archives of Australia. This website proved to be an invaluable resource because it pointed me in all the right directions. From this website I was able to learn what Electronic Record and Documents Management actually was, then I was able to find a document entitled “Implementing an EDRMS – Key Considerations” which educated me a little further on what is actually involved in the process of implementation. There was an obvious connection between ‘Electronic Record and Documents Management’ and ‘Digital Asset Management’ and I was hoping to find out more about the relationship.

My next search on Google was for Digital Asset Management. The search results presented me with a dictionary-like definition that was referenced from Wikipedia but then the seventh result, a link to digitalassetmanagement.com taught me more detail about the topic. This website provided a link, which it considered a valuable resource, to the DAM Foundation (http://damfoundation.org). Upon the foundation’s website I was able to find a blog that answered the questions I had in my mind all along.

References: 

Brian. (2012, March 30) Qualities of good information [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://alearningdiary.com/2012/03/30/qualities-of-good-information/

Dewey Decimal Classification. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 20, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dewey_Decimal_Classification

Digital Asset Management. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 20, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_asset_management

Elizabeth Keathley, Mark Davey. (2015, October 20). 2014/2015 RESULTS FROM THE DAM FOUNDATION SALARY SURVEY [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://damfoundation.org/2015/02/04/20142015-results-from-the-dam-foundation-salary-survey/

Implementing an EDRMS – Key Considerations. (2015). Retrieved October 20, 2015, from http://www.naa.gov.au/Images/EDRMS-key-considerations_tcm16-47289.pdf

Library science. (2015, September 21). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 20, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_science

Mai, J. (2013). The Quality and Qualities of Information. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 64(4), 675-688.

The Free Dictionary (2015). Preconceived notion. Retrieved October 20, 2015, from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/preconceived+notion

Trevathan, J. (2015). 3623ICT Information and Content Management, lecture 1, week 1: Defining Information Architecture [Lecture PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://bblearn.griffith.edu.au

Trevathan, J. (2015). 3623ICT Information and Content Management, lecture 2, week 1: Practising Information Architecture [Lecture PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://bblearn.griffith.edu.au

Trevathan, J. (2015). 3623ICT Information and Content Management, lecture 3, week 1: Users Needs and Behaviours [Lecture PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://bblearn.griffith.edu.au

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