Peter Morville's bi-weekly column on the evolving definition of information architecture

An Information Architect's Manifesto:
More Threats

I received many good threats in response to my article, An Information Architect's Manifesto, so I created this threat-overflow page to include the full list in all its glory.

Your Threats

If our demands are not met, the information architects of the world will:

  1. "Make it so that your contextual navigation does not make sense. Users will pick out a red hat, brown pants, and a blue shirt, and your site will then recommend a new ballcock for your toilet." (Keith Instone)

  2. "Create a virus that unravels all the folder links on the computers it infects, so that no one can find any information at all. After completely disrupting your computer's information architecture, the virus flashes a message with the phone number of the nearest information architect, who will (for a small fee) not only restore all the now invalid links, but will reorganize your file structure so that you can actually find things." (Fred Leise)

  3. "Fear and Tremble before us, or thy Navigation Paths shall be torn asunder and rearchitected in Braille, thy Labels shall be scattered into Analects of Esperanto, thy newborn Pages shall have their Metatags ripped out and thrown to the Spiders of Hell, amid the Weeping and Gnashing of Users' Teeth! We shall smite thee with a Great Storm of Flash and Shockwave, and visit upon thee the Howling of the Moneychangers and a Mighty Pestilence of Ads! A Curse upon thy Site and all of its Subsites! Repent! Click thee here and take up the One True Word!" (Larry Rusinsky)

  4. "Read our lips: No new taxonomies!" (Jeff Harrison)

  5. "A virtual wedgie shall be foisted upon the users of the web, so that navigation becomes reversed, and then inverted, and placed in different locations on every page; thesauri become repositories of antonyms and bad haikus; whenever personalization of content is to be employed, it shall always be employed for someone else; copious plug-ins shall be used to display the word "the," and, finally, the back button shall be disengaged. Nothing hurts more than a virtual wedgie!" (Ariana French)

  6. A Modest Proposal, with apologies to Marx and Engels. (Julian Richards)

    "A spectre is haunting the Internet -- the spectre of Information Architecture. All the powers of the old Internet have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Designer and Programmer, and, bad sites and bad businesses. Where is the group in opposition to these sites that has not been decried as information architects by their project managers in power?

    Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of information architecture, against the more vocal Flash designers, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

    Two things result from this fact:

    I. Information Architecture is already acknowledged by all Internet powers to be itself a power.

    II. It is high time that Information Architects should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of Information Architecture with a manifesto of the party itself.

    Failing such a manifesto (and here is my threat) we will disavow our allegiances to Dewey, Cutter and Raganathan by losing control of our vocabularies, slaying the mighty Thesaurus, tampering with users' channel capacity and hiding the shopping carts of the world!"

  7. "I threaten to recommend a content management system that won't allow you to see when your Press Releases area needs to be updated next. Users coming to this area will assume that the July 2000 release is the latest one, and won't return because you're so woefully out-of-date." (Kat Hagedorn)

  8. "My cousin Vinnie is a marketing copy writer, you know what I mean? And unless you play ball with us, he's going to reauthor all the labels on your site so that nobody can navigate. We'll see who's laughing when your search engine is labeled the 'QuickFindStar.'" (Chris Farnum)

  9. "We will spend every waking hour perfecting the art of superfluous animation and extrinsic information elements with a good dose of ambiguous taxonomies. We will indoctrinate copy writers with malapropisms of misguided instructional text. We will hold Jakob Nielsen captive and coerce him to turn into usability mudslinging. He will be forced to watch Flash introductions repeatedly until his eyes pop out of his head and the term "skip intro" no longer resides in his consciousness. And when users are salivating with interactive rabies, we will destroy every personal computer and force them to browse the Internet on Sprint PCS phones... with higher radioactive emissions." (Justin Hambleton)

  10. "We will go into your houses and redesign them the same way your web sites are designed. The basement will be the first thing you see, the kitchen will be unreachable except through the bedroom and both bathrooms, the bedroom will be on six different floors, and the dog will be in every room at once." (Ann Feeny)

  11. "We will let you make the same mistakes we made three and four years ago whenever you suggest them, allowing the audience to curse you and your company when your site blinks at them, they can't find your products for the huge graphic that takes up the entire screen and obscure cutesy labels buried in tiny type somewhere where nobody sees them, and the audio message from your CEO that downloads automatically on the front page freezes their computers." (Ralph Brandi)

  12. "First, we will lock all of you in a giant bookstore full of sausage and tell you to find the fat lady of virtue... then we will reorganize the alphabet chronologically! Hairspray will become tear gas! Underwear? Bear Traps! Yeehaw!" (Dennis Shimkoski)

  13. "Here is something for your evolving manifesto. Remember the Wobblies- founded in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), was the first Industrial union in North America.

    It's time to organize the International Information Web Workers of the World (IIWWW) - the Web Wobblies! I suggest that the Web Wobblies are not just organizing themselves for mutual benefit like a mere professional association. There is a deeper, social, cultural, and even ethical mission. The web of networked people and societies is a radically new thing. Web Wobblies should know about the effects of what they are really doing in crafting the architecture of new environments. Tim Berners-Lee wrote:

    "Hope in life comes from the interconnections among all the people in the world. We believe that if we all work for what we think individually is good, then we as a whole will achieve more power, more understanding, more harmony as we continue the journey...The experience of seeing the Web take off by the grassroots efforts of thousands gives me tremendous hope that if we have the individual will, we can collectively make of our world what we want." (Weaving the Web, p. 209).

    Tim's reflections bring back the world-mending sentiments that can get buried in the commercial tidal wave that is washing over webspace. Web Wobblies are in synch with this." (Stephen Duplantier)

  14. Your Threat Here.
End Notes

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