New Keynote: “Designing Distinctions”

I’ve been invited to deliver the closing keynote at World Information Architecture Day Switzerland 2019, which will happen in Zurich in February. (You can sign up here.) The conference’s theme of “Design for Difference” prompted me to work on a new presentation, which I’m calling “Designing Distinctions.” This is the description:

Information architects design distinctions. We categorize things for a living—that is, we set off concepts against each other to make it easier for people to “find their personal paths to knowledge.”

As software “eats the world,” the distinctions we create in information environments grow ever more powerful. They come to frame how people understand themselves, their contexts, and the relationship between the two. As a result, information architects have greater responsibility today than ever before. We must vie to create systems that establish useful distinctions.

This presentation explores the tensions inherent in making distinctions. What are the responsibilities for professional distinction-makers in a world in which the effects of their work have greater impact than ever before? How might information architecture lead to healthier societies in the long-term?

I’ll be working on this talk over the next few weeks, and am curious about​ what you think about the subject. What thoughts does it spark? Any concerns/areas you think I should cover? Books or blogs I should be reading on the subject? Please send me a note to let me know.