Episode 111 of The Informed Life podcast features an interview with my friend Andy Fitzgerald, an independent information architecture and content strategy consultant. Andy works with mission-driven organizations to produce systems that communicate clearly, align business and user goals, and scale effectively.
Our conversation focused on moving beyond the page as a metaphor for how information is delivered toward more flexible content structures. People conflate the content they see with how its presented. This is understandable, since “pages” and content went hand-in-hand until digital media came around. As Andy put it,
We absolutely love pages! And as a metaphor, it’s been useful for getting us comfortable with this insane amount of information that we now have available to us. But it’s just a metaphor and it’s one that I find as our information is increasingly connected, just hobbles individuals and organizations in their efforts to communicate.
But digital makes it possible (indeed, desirable) to separate content from presentation: structuring content to imbue it with semantic meaning makes it possible to use it across different contexts. The goal is systems that better serve human needs. Again, Andy:
I care whether [machines] can help us find things to be informed and to lead better lives with the information that’s being created by humanity right now.
As I’ve worked on Duly Noted over the past year, conversations on The Informed Life podcast have explored subjects beyond information architecture. This conversation with Andy is an exception: the subject on the table is central to the practice of IA now and in the future.