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Intertwingled: Information Changes Everything Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
Peter has written with such openness and honesty that he is able to connect with the reader in a very human, personal and humble manner. He has managed to reflect on his experience of shaping and working in the field of Information Architecture in a way that makes you think without being too preachy.
Some of my favourite quotes (so far):
"In such a big organization, you can't change the system from within a silo. It was painful to see the problem so clearly but have no path to a solution."
This is a very valuable lesson that anyone who works with large organisations needs to learn as soon as possible.
"Information architecture is an intervention. It disturbs an established system. To make change that lasts, we must look for the levers and find the right fit. If we fight culture, it will fight back and usually win. But if we look deeper, and if we're open to changing ourselves, we may see how culture can help."
This might sound a bit touchy-feely for us stiff-upper-lip Brits (Peter was born in Manchester by the way), but I think that this is the key message from the book for me.
"Taxonomies are treacherous because the easier they are to use, the harder they are to see. We grab handles without scanning contents. We trust labels without knowing origin."
Always understand the source of the information and keep asking questions.
"Like maps, words are traps. We must speak carefully since we think what we say. The order of operations makes a difference; that's why process is key."
Information cannot be separated from the process and always surfaces in the context of its own story.
"I wallow in data of all sorts and talk to people from all walks."
"We should use our categories and connections to reveal the hidden assumptions of culture; and sketch links and loops to explore the latent potential of systems; and realize mental models by drawing them outside our heads."
I have taken the text from the book and counted all of the words to produce this 'map' of the top ten words that appear in the book. It's telling that people and culture appear in the top ten.
In an easy-to-read and effortless manner the book interweaves stories from Aristotle, Descartes, Hippocrates, Russell Ackoff, Donella Meadows, Christopher Alexander, Buddha, Paul Hiebert, Stewart Brand, Nassim Taleb, Edgar Schein, Geert Hofstede and many more.
Along the way, we learn (bits) about ecosystems, communities, ecology, the 'cost of free,' the fallacy of reductionism, ontology and taxonomy, embodied cognition, semiotics, infoscenting, fuzzy sets, agile, lean, modelling, architecting, systems thinking, metrics, double-loop learning, ethnography, the importance of symbols, positive deviant behaviour, liminality, and much more.
And all this while covering, albeit largely on a philosophical level, some UX/Information Architecture 101 like navigation, categorisation and search.
My two favourite bits of the book were
1) The statement that "change is not the only constant." Given that all 'management' books/presentations/blogs *ever* start with some tired variant of 'change is the only constant,' it was great to hear the opposite.
2) The chapter on Culture. Professionally, culture is important. This chapter though answers "what can I do to better understand/leverage culture?" and has some great references for further learning. I found this 'practical' treatment of culture refreshing.
The only gripe I have about this book is the slight hypocrisy regarding 'findability' of information. It emphasises the importance of findability of information and yet, in the Kindle version:
1) The "Go To" function is disabled
2) There is no index (only a very high level contents page)
3) Some of the references are not references. E.g. we are referred to "Managing Emergence by Marc Rettig (2014)" ... but what is this? A book? A blog? A video? A song? You'll have to google to find that out. As you will with several of the other references.
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