8th Academics and Practitioners Roundtable
At the 2020 Information Architecture Conference
May 13 – Roundtable
May 14 – Make-a-thon
The Roundtable took place with revised dates and a virtual format to accommodate a global pandemic.
Previous IA Roundtable discussions on Ethics (2018) and Diversity and Inclusion (2019) highlighted the need for practitioners to examine and communicate the values that inform day-to-day practice and professional life. The 2020 roundtable explored the idea of values in information architecture (IA): Do certain values guide the practice of information architecture? What does it mean to state one’s values as an IA practitioner? How might we identify those values?
As a discipline, IA has borrowed its theories and practices from many other fields—and values, too, have been inherited from each tradition. A vastly incomplete list might include user-centeredness from design; access and preservation from library science; beauty and sustainability from architecture; cultural diversity from anthropology; and far more. Furthermore, IA practitioners have espoused particular values for IA, such as clarity, truth, and accountability.
But in practice, identifying the values at work is not straightforward: For example, in the 2018 Roundtable investigation of values and principles for ethics in information architecture, participants concluded that they could not prescribe specific values or values sets for IA practitioners due to the context-sensitivity of design problems. They developed several tools and resources for information professionals, including an Ethics Game, an Ethics Heuristic, and an Ethics Canvas, each of which asks the practitioner to select the values that apply in a given practical scenario.
Values also create tension. Practitioners must do “good” IA while demonstrating the economic value of IA for their organizations. They may work across multiple cultural contexts, come from diverse backgrounds, and design for stakeholders with diverse values, needs, and worldviews. In the 2019 IA Roundtable on Diversity and Inclusion, participants examined the sociopolitical implications of diversity in information architecture, noting that diversity itself must be a core value in order for practices to become more inclusive. This idea extends to IA scholarship, and as a primarily North America-based project, we note that this includes the IA Roundtable itself.
If values so deeply shape IA practice and its consequences, then our ability to identify, understand, and communicate these values are critical to developing IA as a discipline. The 2020 IA Roundtable sought to develop a critical discussion about values in IA that both academics and practitioners could use to scaffold these conversations with their colleagues and communities of learning, teaching and practice.
Massachusetts Digital Service
Sarah A Rice
Consultant and Adjunct Faculty, California College of the Arts
Jeffery Ryan Pass
Inspire new ideas, discussion and lively debate
Lightning talks, scenarios and reading list.
As writers, we can focus on structures of our writing, but it can be easy to lose sight of our influence over our audience.
Considerations for teams in identifying shared values for information architects.
Values are inherently comparative, so thinking about values is fundamentally metaphorical.
Started at the 2019 IA Conference, this work on values has been vetted with a variety of groups updated based on feedback.
Automation, as an act of design, requires that we develop a micro-meso-macro mindset. This pertains to values and how they are applied as well.
How might we create appropriate barriers for responsible interactions in Dataverse?
Fictitious company EnviroTech has a situation which requires a team of values-aware information professionals to help bring competing stakeholders together with a unified vision. What's the approach?
This activity was the focus of the roundtable's afternoon, and 5 groups ranging from 2-5 people each collaborated. Here are their findings.
An overview of Shalom Schwartz’s theory of basic values and 10 universal human values
A Professional Values Statement & Maturity Model for IA/UX
Jacqui will be speaking about this proposed values statement in her lightning talk.
Fielding Cage, “The Toughest Triage: When medical resources are limited, who should get care first?”A case study on ethical decision making based on values.
Montreal Declaration for a responsible development of artificial intelligence
M3 Model handout
Objective: Synthesize our discussion from the Roundtable and share what we learned by creating artifacts to be made available online.
Start time: 8am PDT, 11am EDT, 4pm BST, 12 midnightJST
Summarized key ideas from day 1
Generated ideas and formed 2 groups
Worked in groups for the bulk of our time together
Presented to everyone at the end of the day
Here are working notes from Groups 1 and 2.