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Jared Spool presentation

http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/author/jared/

Jared Spool is a well known figure in the Information Architecture and User Experience world. I have read some of is blog posts and papers, but I had not had the opportunity to hear him present in person.

He gave a talk last night at the Usability Professional Association (UPA) monthly meeting, which was hosted by my office. I was very impressed. It was a very good talk, he is a very good presenter, and his points about using tenets of illusion, perception, and delight in web design/ interaction design were well placed.

Near the end of his talk he made a remark that I whole-heartedly agree with and has rolled around in my mind, but find that many in IA & UxD don't agree with or angers them: that we as a discipline need to recognize the need for provenance...where ideas, practices, and techniques came from...so we stop reinventing the wheel and start moving the discipline forward.

The internet brings new problems that need fresh thinking, yes. We've come from a variety of backgrounds which allows us to think about and solve problems in new ways, yes. Our discipline is young, yes. However, there is a profound lack retrospect...the discipline looks for people who are looking forward. Many times, a well read IA has read papers and studies dating back 15 years, to the beginnings of the WWW. But we (myself included) have large gaps about what had been done in user research, sociology, human machine interaction, library sciences, etc from 20, 30, 60 years ago. Some of us are silos of information in an area that interests us -- library practices for me. some of us are more well rounded than others, because they have chosen to make themselves so.

I am frequently amazed, annoyed, and frustrated as the IA & UxD practitioners throw out library science as outmoded, dead, and not serving user models...they throw it out and spend inordinate amounts of time solving how to organize information around books, movies, historical figures, disambiguation of names, geographic locations. These puzzles have been solved, to good effect in that the data is manipulable and transportable. Why not use it and spend that energy and creativity on interfaces, functionality, and user needs?

Take Freebase (http://www.freebase.com/), for instance, which people are raving about because it (supposedly) combines semantic technologies with user generated content. It's designers spent a lot of energy re-structuring and naming data points for movies and media. I can map most of their fields to concepts in MARC yet they haven't reconciled their concepts it as well as MARC standard. Libraries are dead? Library science and practice is worthless?