IA’s should program and build cool shit.

A lot of my friends are information architects and designers with great ideas, about strategy, usability, business, you name it. Itching to make some cool shit after years of consulting. But when I talk to them, they often lack the ability to efficiently bootstrap stuff, because they’re used to working with teams of coders who implement for them. They are reluctant to build stuff themselves. (With “they” I mean “me”.)

A startup with a bright idea doesn’t have teams of coders though. You gotta build stuff yourself. At least the first prototype. Bootstrap it.

Which is why I’ve decided to learn how to program. Again. I’ve been using the same skills I had 5 years ago to build my cool shit, and it’s not enough anymore. That, and the idea that programming is as important a skill in the ability to roll out cool stuff as strategy/usability/… are.

So I’m trying to convince my designer/IA friends. Learn how to program. It’s scary, if you’re 30-something. But sit down for a month and just do it.

0 thoughts on “IA’s should program and build cool shit.

  1. I’ve procrastinaite with this decision since i’ve take it 6 months ago.
    What langages to learn? In wich way? I’m working with a gang of darn good programmers and the idea of beeing a newbie in such a bunch is intimidating.

    I also hesitate between two options: learn this stuff and diversify my knowledge or become more proficient in my own field. More diversity is less focus; it also means more things to keep up-to-date.

    I don’t know.

  2. Amen brother. If you learn some shortcuts along the way please let us know.

    On my wishlist is 1) a simple way to grab information from an API and display it on a webpage, and 2) a simple way to set up a faceted taxonomy without using a database.

  3. I’m with you – I’m sick of not being able to do stuff. I swing between thinking that I should learn to program, and thinking I should just stick with being a good designer and knowing loads and loads of good stuff about people and not having to play catch up with technology all the time…

  4. All you IA’s out there should adopt a programmer and indulge in some skills exchange. You teach them about IA and they can teach you how to write code.

    I am a programmer who has learnt about IA and these two areas have a lot to learn from each other.

    PS. Don’t bother with the “Learn Marathon in 21 Days” books, they are a waste of time. Learn by doing it with someone who can help you get going.

  5. This is just the thing that the group of developers I work with in e-business department at an insurancy company aer saying over and over again. The lack of technical understanding of the people who try to tell us what to build is incredible.
    When they show again and again that they do not even understand the basics of the web (differences between clientside and serverside) then we always have a hard time explaining why things that they propose just will not work. After we have finished our explanation they ask:
    But can’t you still make it work like that?
    If they only knew how to program ‘Hello world’then things would be already so much better.

  6. Agreed. Building cool shit is the reason I am a software engineer. I see programming as a craft, there is a engineering component to it, a scientific component to it, and a artistic component to it. And it’s 100% creative and innovative. Real engineers build beautiful machines, the best of them build shiny new ferarri’s.

    Programming is not just getting something working that out-of-touch business execs and managers think would be cool, it’s leveraging all your technological know-how to provide a complete, robust and beautiful solution that meets the requirements as exactly as possible. A big challenge. Management tells the developer what SHOULD happen, that’s less than 20% the work, the developer has to then analyse what MAY happen and cater for each circumstance. The developer has to define what has not been defined.

    If you make the decision to be a software developer, then you move with the times. Intrinsically experiencing the same problems that are solved by new technology, you naturally track the industry without the need to play ‘Catch-up’. You intrinsically understand the technology, because you know WHY it exists.

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