How To Design Distinctions That Won’t Destroy Society

A presentation I delivered at World IA Day Zurich 2019.

Slides:

Description of the talk:

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. As a result, information architects have greater responsibility today than ever before. This requires that we understand how people understand things, ideas, and themselves – and especially how these understandings are informed by differences in people’s capabilities, access to information, knowledge, self-identities, and power.

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?