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Information Architecture in the Anthropocene

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Part of the Human–Computer Interaction Series book series (HCIS)


Today’s information architecture (IA) practitioners work in a morally and politically challenging climate where pervasive, systemic problems demand that we consider the consequences of our work for social justice and sustainability. Using “Information Architecture in the Anthropocene” as a framing device, and drawing from critical perspectives in design scholarship, this chapter explores what these systemic problems mean for everyday information architecture practice, and it asks what methodological, theoretical, and paradigmatic qualities would enable information architecture to respond adequately to social and environmental challenges. Both design and information architecture practitioners are deeply involved in ongoing sociopolitical problems, which highlights the need for awareness of their limitations and their situatedness within the systems that are traditionally treated as objects for detached research and design. Reflexivity, informed by a systemic epistemology, is identified as a critical attribute for information architecture in the Anthropocene. Three proposals are offered as ways to achieve this: information architecture as a developmental process, information architecture as ethical practice, and information architecture as a network. These approaches apply processual and relational interpretations, along with biological theory, to the practice of information architecture, challenging our field to include ourselves in the systems we study and to rethink information architecture as a responsible practice.

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The original idea for “design in the Anthropocene,” the emphasis on reflexivity, the use of developmental, processual, and relational perspectives, and much else in this chapter result from studies and personal conversations with Linnda Caporal. In addition, Jason Hobbs, Alba Villamil, Cennydd Bowles, Emily Devlin, Andrea Resmini, and Sarah Rice shaped this chapter through critical dialogue and feedback. Finally, the organizers and participants of the Academics and Practitioners Roundtable, and the members of the Ethical Technology online community, have all scaffolded my thinking on this topic in numerous ways.

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Zollman, D. (2021). Information Architecture in the Anthropocene. In: Resmini, A., Rice, S.A., Irizarry, B. (eds) Advances in Information Architecture. Human–Computer Interaction Series. Springer, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-63204-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-63205-2

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)