In the 1970s, years before access to the Internet was universal, Richard Saul Wurman, then a professor of architecture in North Carolina, predicted that the oncoming information explosion would require the intervention of a new breed of professionals trained in organizing data and making sense of it. According to Wurman, the biggest challenge our species was about to face was to learn how to navigate the upcoming tsunami of bits that was cresting the horizon.

Wurman called these people information architects. Their discipline, information architecture, has been defined by others as:

• The structural design of shared information environments; • The combination of organization, labeling, search, and navigation systems within websites and intranets; • The art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability and findability; • An emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.

Wurman suggests that one of the main goals of information architecture is to help users avoid information anxiety, the “black hole between data and knowledge.”


without conscious effort, the brain always tries to close the distance between observed phenomena and knowledge or wisdom that can help us survive. This is what cognition means. The role of an information architect is to anticipate this process and generate order before people’s brains try to do it on their own.

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A quote saved on Feb. 26, 2013.


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