Defining the term “information architecture” is difficult because it has been employed differently in a variety of fields. Most definitions, however, have something to do with the connections among web site usability, interactivity, design, and navigation principles as each relate to written content. Indeed, this what makes up part of the catalog description of the course. The definition is located within the realm of web sites, but in order to fully understand how information is structured online, we must first consider what information is and how it has been structured prior to the existence of online and digital writing spaces. Information is not just on the web nor is web content the only kind that needs to be presented (that is, composed) well. Rather, information is everywhere—in digital, print, and everyday texts—and we need to have an understanding of how the design of information in each of these spaces impacts how the texts are approached, read, and understood.
We begin with the beginning: the development of writing as a structure for communication. From there, we will consider how metaphor shapes and structures the way we communicate. We will tackle the most prominent of the metaphors relating to the architecture of language, text, and technologies: mapping. Our readings will move us into online and digital spaces where we will consider usability and the semantic nature of the web, as well as how writers are taking advantage of online media to transform what it means to compose literature. Through these latter discussions we will consider the importance of code for the structure of information and meaning.
We will, however, not just be reading about these theories. We’re going to actively engage in composing texts that are informed by the theories we read. Over the course of the semester we’ll be completing three main projects:
- three drafts of a very structured formal essay and a Pecha Kucka presentation to support it
- an infographic informed by data found online created using Piktochart
- an original code poem or code short story
There will be some minor assignments designed to help you complete the more formal assignments. We’ll also be blogging and tweeting in ways that help further the readings and inform our class discussions.
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