I’m waiting in Newark airport for a connecting flight to Montreal, where I’ll spend some time with Maria and be at the IA Summit – maybe the friendliest conference around. I’ll be talking with Liv and Jorge about global IA, and basically filling my IA brain for the next year.

David Wienberger on Taxonomies and Tags. One thing many people fail to see, I think, are good ways to combine the strengths of various system. I’m working on an experiment with faceted tagging (better than facetious), so we’ll see how that turns out :)

I’m looking for advice on finding a place in Barcelona to stay for 2 months. It doesn’t have to be big. It’d be nice if it had internet. And be in an interesting part of town. What parts of town should I be looking at?

Russell Beattie Notebook – Six Apart Price Pool? Russel wonders how much Six Apart will sell out for. That’s assuming they plan to sell out anytime soon.

The brilliance of Typepad has always seemed to me that people are storing their personal life there, in a form that’s not easy to take out and move somewhere else. Who wants the blog they’ve put their souls in for years to dissapear? A lot of money to be made.

The bigger lesson seems to be, for me, that it’s all about the community and the data. Technology is easy to replace or copy. Lock-in isn’t. Community takes years to build, and that’s what big companies pay for. Look at Craigslist – easy technology to copy, but Craigslist isn’t technology. It’s community and data where the value lies.

Information architecture exercises

I am preparing some information architecture workshops, and I’m collecting various types of exercises. I’ve managed to identify some general rules for developing workshop exercises as well:

  • Involve food items. Snacks, preferably. People get hungry in these workshops.
  • Make it fun.
  • Loosen people up at first.

A lot of exercises can consist of trying out information architecture research techniques.

There are of course the classics: card sorting (open or closed), doing contextual interviews, ….

Jess McMullin suggested “sorting buttons (the clothing kind), or other materials with facets. (buttons have lots of obvious facets: size, shape, color, material, texture, formality, etc. and you can buy assorted bags of them at many thrift shops).” Jess also suggested “Get Veer or another stock photo print catalog, cut the pictures out, and sort them (more facets)”.

Jess also mentioned “Play a 20 questions guessing game about a favorite movie (thanks to Rashmi Sinha for this one, from the 2003 IA Institute preconference)”. This is a great technique for developing facets, also mentioned to me by Margareth Hanley. The user has to guess which thing you’re thinking about in 20 questions, and you only answer yes or no. From this, you can try to determine facets that matter to the user.

Anna mentioned: “I had my students Interactive Media make groups of 4/5 and take out all their cards from their wallet and put them together: creditcards, membercards, discountcards etc. and categorize them. Then I brought up the subject of overlap; would it be better to have every piece in a category of its own, or would it be ok to find the same card under different categories? For instance NS-daluren (railways) gives both entrance and discount. This way they gained more insight in the matter than when I had tried to explain.”

Jason Pryslak said that “Lou does a popular excercise at his seminar where he gives everyone a Little Debbie snack and asks them to describe from the perspective of a marketer and a product manager. ”

Alfred Werner suggested “How about a word association game to loosen everyone up? You start by saying a word and each person in the room does an association with the previous word.” I have thaught before, and exercises to loosen people up are generally superuseful. Alfred also wrote: “Bring some boxes with balls, pieces of cloth, magazine clippings, jacks, and other random stuff and have people put them into piles and then justify their sorting criteria.” This might help understand people that many people categorize things differently.

A good way to loosen things up (if needed) is to introduce an IA buzzword bingo game, like the business bingo card.

More IA-related games: Wordmenu.

Finally, maybe Mapping Springfield is an Information Architecture exercise, too.

Please leave more ideas in the comments. I’ll add them to this list.

Silent Eloquence: Languages or Dialects?: “When I tell people that my mother tongue is Malayalam, first they look at me like I am playing a tongue-twister game and then a good % of them follow up with ” Oh, so that is an Indian dialect”. And I ever so patiently try to explain that Malayalam is not a “dialect”, it is a “language” on its own. Regardless of whether they nod in agreement after or without further discussion, a nagging thought always lingers in my mind whether they really agree that my beloved Malayalam is a language and not just a dialect.”

I have a MySQL database optimization job: I need some tables optimized and some queries written. I have a short spec explaining things in detail that I’ll send to you. I can pay a small amount of $. Get in touch at peter van dijck (no spaces) at gmail… and I’ll send you the spec. It’s for Mefeedia.com

I am looking for someone to have an ongoing relationship with- little jobs. I write decent specs, but often we need to discuss requirements before implementing. If you’re a “just tell me what to do” kind of guy, don’t bother. If you’re a “yeah, but is that good for the user?” kind of guy, or “here’s a simpler way that’ll scale much better”, I want to talk to you.

� Podcasting: Zero to 3075 in six months (much, much faster ramp up than blogs). Vlogging is taking slower, basically going to about 200 vlogs (rough estimate) in a year. We’re still under the radar of most people. That might be because we don’t have the famous cheerleaders podcasting has, or because there are a few more technical obstacles to overcome for videoblogging, and we’ve yet to hit that tipping point.

Micro Persuasion: Google Gets Away With What Microsoft Couldn’t: “Google today launched a new version of its toolbar that employs a new feature called Autolink that turns non-linked content on Web sites into hotlinks back to Google properties and other sites.”

Back off Google. This is eeevil territory. How long did that take he?

All I can say is: I hope they remove this soon. JustdDon’t go there. I can’t believe they would be this stupid, but obviously they are.

I went to see The Gates in NYC central park. I saw so many people making video with small digital cameras, I wish they were all vloggers. This is my video (Quicktime, 10M):

Vloggercon: Tools. (Quicktime) I was in this session. The cool thing with these vlogging tools is that, no matter how hard the big $$ companies try, all the really cool tools are being developed by us kids in the basement.