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IAKM's Fast and Industry Expert to Present at First World IA Day

Posted Feb. 8, 2012

Kent State University User Experience Design professor Karl Fast, Ph.D., and information architecture expert Peter Morville will give a presentation on “The History of Information Architecture” at the first World Information Architecture Day on Feb. 11.

The event will take place at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, one of 14 locations for the global event on sharing information, ideas and research for designing structures of understanding.

Fast and Morville were previously colleagues at the IA firm Argus Associates, an open source startup.

Fast’s presentation will focus on the copious amounts of information being produced today and the implications of this for information architects.

IAKM Assistant Professor Karl Fast, Ph.D.“Researchers estimate there will be more information added to the world this year than in all of human history, combined, including last year,” Fast said. “This is the modern face of information overload. And yet, we’re not about to create less information. The future of IA means dealing with the consequences of information overload beyond our wildest expectations.”

The numbers are staggering, he added. To cite just a few figures, every second, one hour of video is uploaded to YouTube. Every day, Google handles more than 3 billion searches and Zynga, the company that created Farmville, manages 15 TB of user data.

The information world as a whole, Fast argued, is a world that we can’t actually imagine even though we live in it every day. “A familiar analogy for a really big number is grains of sand on a beach. Now try to imagine all the grains of sand on all the beaches in the world. Now imagine that much information being generated every year, every month, every day. That’s the direction we’re headed. At this level, there’s no meaningful scale of reference anymore.”

What does this mean for professionals whose work is about creating useful, meaningful structure in the information universe?

“IA started when big meant tens or hundreds of thousands of items; really big meant millions of items,” Fast said. “For a lot of information architecture problems, that scale seems increasingly quaint. I don’t know that our traditional methods can scale alongside the information explosion.”

Fast teaches courses on information architecture, information visualization, information technologies and human-information interaction, among others. In addition to Argus Associates, he previously worked at several consulting firms specializing in information architecture, usability and user experience. He is also a founding member of the Information Architecture Institute and is actively involved in the annual Information Architecture Summit.

morville bookMorville, president and founder of Semantic Studios, is credited with helping to create the discipline of information architecture. He was the chief executive officer of Argus Associates, a founder and past president of the IA Institute and served on the American Society for Information Science & Technology board of directors. Morville has written four books, including Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. He received an advanced degree in library and information science from the University of Michigan's School of Information, where he has also served on the faculty.

Register here for the free event.

Information Architecture and Knowledge Management, a program in the School of Library and Information Science, offers a graduate program in user experience design (including information architecture and usability), health informatics and knowledge management through an interdisciplinary Master of Science program, certificates and online courses. Kent State University is a sponsor of World IA Day.

Media contact:
Flo Cunningham