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Information architecture and knowledge architecture

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By Margaret Adolphus

Introduction

Architecture arranges space in a logical way – for example, bedrooms are normally close together, the kitchen near the dining room. This means that parents can comfort children in the night, and food can be transported easily from oven to table. Similarly, a town that is planned groups space according to function: shopping centres, car parking for shopping, pedestrianized areas, parks, etc.

Information likewise – although it often isn't – is most helpful when it is grouped in a structured way, so that particular nuggets can be found easily. An example is the way in which traditional libraries are organized: signage indicates how floors are structured and where you can find, for example, fiction or travel.

The problem nowadays is that most information is not found in traditional analogue form, but exists digitally, somewhere on the Internet, which is growing at an intense rate and in an uncontrolled way. That is why we need information to be structured – so that we know what to look for and where.

Hence the emergence of information architecture (IA), poised to become a key discipline for the 21st century, as important as usability. It even, as of Spring 2009, has its own peer reviewed journal, Journal of Information Architecture, organized by academics from Scandinavia, Poland and Italy.