Friday Feb 16, 2007

McLuhan was an Information Architect

Q for today: What's the relation between Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message”, and Information Architecture?

With my recent posts I've presented a couple of communication channels and “cyberspace dimensions” that need to be filled with life. Each of those channels can be seen as a medium that transforms the message that is transmitted. This means in turn that there are good and bad media channels for certain kinds of messages. I call the choice of well suited spots where communication and collaboration can happen applied McLuhanism. The term Information Architecture is used for the organization of content, functionality, navigation and usability of a web site. The following illustration uses Jesse James Gerrett's visual vocabulary to outline the architecture of the user experience space on ooo.

Top left we have the website at ux.openoffice.org, The message that changes every piece of information is: “This is graved in stone”. Well, more or less. At least it is a space that is not very hospitable because just a few people have full write access to the site. Nonetheless, it is an official site where we will put official information that does not change every other week like our charter and some general How-To guides. Links point the visitors to related projects, e.g. to the specification project and the accessibility project.

The wiki (top right) is by design a collaborative space. And our pages shall be no exception. Working documents and pages where everyone is invited to contribute are here. The stack of guideline documents that seem to be hosted outside the wiki is a nice example that the index page to guidelines can be well done as a wiki page regardless where the actual guidelines are located.

Of course, the details will be filled in over time. But on the way this map provides guidance for informed decisions where pages should go best to foster participation.

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