The Umbrella, Heller's comments on "A rose by any other name"
20 Apr 2004 - 3:08pm
10 years ago
Of all of the comments on B&A recently, I found this one to be spot on:
"To me what is missing is not a definition of IA. I'll stick w/ the one
that AIfIA put forth on their web site, but what is really missing is
what is the umbrella. There is no one working there. No one is working
to create a viable unconfusing umbrella for all of us. We are so stuck
in defining the particulars what we forgot is the first rule of
taxonomy (what's his name Lineus?) that you need to know your parents
before you build your children, right? How do I know that a horse and
cow are related to each other if I don't even know what grouping they
If you look at the conference agendas for IA Summit, UPA, CHI, and STC
you see a lot of overlap, but the overlap is not contextualized, so it
appears that all 4 are trying to take their respective name now mean
the overlap. This to me is wrong. It dilutes the meantion and strength
of the particulars and thus we loose the value of the multi-facets that
Lynn so correctly wants to preserve. Experience Design at CHI looses
"design". Interaction Design at UPA becomes an attemtp to make design
less subjective and more validative and quantifiable. Even if
unintended, this is the outcome.
This is the real damaging piece. If in defining the particular we
subsume the whole we are missing the point and we are hurting our
peers' abilities to differentiate and show value and (as you suggest)
bring their particular backgrounds and contexts to bear on the whole.
I would like to take this opportunity to call on all the groups no
matter how old or young they are, or how many members they may or may
not have and come together to define the umbrella. Maybe even have our
separate organizations become partners in a new umbrella organization.
What that new umbrella is, I don't know -- User Experience (some hate
the word user) ... but there is an umbrella out there, eh?"
The next ten years are going to be fairly critical for the design
community. We have the opportunity at this juncture to take a true
leadership role in the corporate world, in the business itself, to the
same degree Graphic Designers and Automotive Designers became critical
business units in corporations through the 1940s and 1960s.
I for one would like to see David's question answered. I have taken my
own stab at the "umbrella" term many times now, both on my web site and
in mailing lists such as these. Too often I see folks throw their hands
up in the air as if to avoid the issue, or worse, think it is not all
that relevant. In the business context, it's entirely relevant, and
more important than I think most want to acknowledge.