IA Summit Goes Semantic

Rachel Lovinger   April 2, 2009
watzImage via Marius Watz

This was my first year attending the IA Summit. I’m not an Information Architect, so I had no idea what I would find there, or how much of it would be applicable to me. I went because I was participating in the pre-conference Content Strategy Consortium (agenda here), and I decided to stay for the entire conference because several of my coworkers were speaking and the program looked promising. (Note: I’ve tried, where possible, to link to the presentations online. Some of these talks may be a little hard to understand just from the slides, but at some point Boxes & Arrows will post podcasts of the audio.)

There were many talks on content-related issues. Andrew Hinton led a workshop and gave a talk about the importance of Context. Dan Brown, whose talks I missed because the schedule was too packed with amazing things, spoke about data driven sites in Modeling Concepts and Designing Rules. From the comments coming through on Twitter, I got the sense that a lot of Content Strategy type issues were addressed. Colleen Jones, one of my fellow consortiumists, gave a very practical and entertaining talk about Usable, Influential Content.

But the thing I was most excited about was the prevalence of talks about the Semantic Web and what it means for the future of IA. I’ve been trying to address this same issue in my own work for several years now, so I was looking forward to seeing what the IA community would bring to the discussion. Here’s a brief rundown of the talks I saw on this subject (with more detailed accounts of each talk over on my own blog, Meaningful Data):

· In A Fundamental Disruption, Peter Sweeney and Robert Barlow-Busch of Primal Fusion posed the question “How do IAs design for information that’s self-organizing?”

· Chiara Fox set out to introduce the audience to The Semantic Web: What IAs Need to Know About Web 3.0

· Richard Ziade and Tim Meaney, of arc90, focused on the data-sharing aspect of the Semantic Web in their talk, Discovering & Mining the Everyday

· In The Facets of Faceting, Kristoffer Dykon and Helle Hoem presented some case studies on taxonomy and ontology structures used for navigation

· Chris Thorne, of the BBC, focused on the architecture of URIs in his talk, Ubiquitous Information Architecture: Building for change and web 3.0

While I’m excited that the topic was so pervasive, I was a little disappointed that the level of discussion has not advanced very far beyond “What is the Semantic Web?” We’re talking about the questions that need to be asked, but not about realistic, practical answers. Hopefully, now that people are being exposed to these ideas at a rapid rate, it won’t be long before IAs and Content Strategists put their heads together and start coming up with some elegant approaches to designing semantic solutions that address user and business needs.

Tags: ,

One Response

Leave a Reply

Razorfish Blogs


  • SXSW Interactive

    March 7 – 11, Austin, TX
    Several of our contributors will be speaking this year. If you’re going, say hi to Rachel, Robert, & Hawk.

  • Confab Minneapolis

    May 7-9, Minneapolis, MN
    The original Confab Event. Rachel will be there doing her Content Modelling workshop with Cleve Gibbon. Get details and we’ll see you there!

  • Intelligent Content Conference Life Sciences & Healthcare

    May 8-9, San Francisco, CA
    Call for Presenters, now open:


  • Confab for Nonprofits

    Jun 16, Chicago, IL
    Another new Confab Event! Early Bird pricing until March 7:  http://confabevents.com/events/for-nonprofits

  • Content Strategy Forum

    July 1-3, Frankfurt, Germany
    International Content Strategy workshops & conference: csforum2014.com Call for speakers now open!

Search scatter/gather

What is this site, exactly?

Scatter/Gather is a blog about the intersection of content strategy, pop culture and human behavior. Contributors are all practicing Content Strategists at the offices of Razorfish, an international digital design agency.

This blog reflects the views of the individual contributors and not necessarily the views of Razorfish.

What is content strategy?

Oooh, the elevator pitch. Here we go: There is content on the web. You love it. Or you do not love it. Either way, it is out there, and it is growing. Content strategy encompasses the discovery, ideation, implementation and maintenance of all types of digital content—links, tags, metadata, video, whatever. Ultimately, we work closely with information architects and creative types to craft delicious, usable web experiences for our clients.

Why "scatter/gather"?

It’s an iterative data clustering operation that’s designed to enable rich browsing capabilities. “Data clustering” seems rather awesome and relevant to our quest, plus we thought the phrase just sounded really cool.

Privacy Policy | Entries (RSS) |     © Razorfish™ LLC All rights reserved. Company Logo.