Dilation – Design Strategy Blog

Information Architecture

Information Architecture

Where are my car keys? Normally they live on a nail in a post by the door. Sometimes I leave them in my jacket pocket and occasionally, absent mindedly, I put them down on the kitchen table or more rarely on the night stand by my bed. They aren’t in the ignition. Ah… brief case!

Nope, not there.

Ok, where have I been. I got out of the car…

Information architecture is about where information is and where “real” things are located: like my car keys, pet food at the store, doctors office, bus stop, washrooms and everything else we might want to find in an ordinary day. Frequently, information graphics ( pictures that provide information ) are employed to display information architecture, but not always. Information is stored in everything and accessible, if you know how to find it that is.
Trees and other growing organisms prefer dilation strategies. Trees for instance store, information about weather conditions in a specific year. We access this information by counting growth rings from the outside to the inside and analyzing ( comparing ) growth rates for specific years.

Counting rings, retrieving or writing information, is what your hard disk does when you are presented text, sounds and pictures on screen. Your hard disk, CD’s and DVD’s have a dilation architecture with the largest ( longer with more information ) rings at the outside and becoming progressively shorter, with the shortest nearest the center. A CD / DVD has a single spiral track of data, circling from the inside of the disc to the outside. LP’s reverse the order when recording and playing back music. Cassette tapes essentially wind up and unwind the spiral coil and by this store information in the same dilation way as other media. These dilation structures form the “foundation architecture” of information architecture.

If you subscribe to the “big bang” theory of the universe, you believe that all the information of the universe existed in a seriously compressed “singularity” that suddenly began to dilate continuously in all possible directions.

bang

You may even think it desirable to assign an address, relative to the earth, to every scrap of it you can find. You would be an information architect. I’m guessing you would need to employ a dilation strategy to store all that info or more sensibly leave the information out in space where it is now stored and develop a better method to read it from home.

If you find my keys out there…

galaxy.jpg

Once you have found a suitable dilation to store your information you will want to access and display it in a way that makes sense to you or someone else. Words and pictures. Not much has changed on the word front except in the area of specialized lingo, but image display has seen some astonishing silicon developments in terms of presentation at least. Image manipulation and display has taken on a sparkling, dazzling and mesmerizing quality that staggers the imagination. Gone are the days of the bar graph perhaps. Information today is presented more like a light show or motion graphics fireworks display, more entertainment than information really. Attention grabbing hypnosis with suggestions rather than actual information. Presentation has taken on a rapid fire quality similar to war movies as if presenters would like to sweep you off your feet and over run your thought processes blitzkrieg style; a state of nearly constant imbalance in which there is little time to reflect on, or detect the information in the stream of images. When you do manage to detect actual information you are immediately carried away to something else, often trivial. “Infotainment” is what it’s called. A picture is worth a thousand words they say and it makes me wonder what a thousand pictures and sentence fragments might be worth. One million dollars a second or nothing at all?

Data is not Information and information is only information after it has been digested and it’s implication grasped. Presenting information then is still an art.

http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/

What is dilation?
What’s in the book

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