July 11, 2003: Where Have All the IAs Gone?
I have a theory, and I wonder if it can be proven.
I've talked with a lot of people who feel that there are fewer information
architects today than there were during the dot com peak. And in terms of
visibility outside the field, that perception is quite understandable.
Back in 2000 and early 2001, there were scads of design firms and agencies
with the budget to prime their publicity pumps. Naturally this benefited
the information architects who worked for those companies, who, like their
colleagues, received some attention in the industry media. And back in
those days there still was budget to attend plenty of conferences.
I think that information architects back then were primarily outside
consultants. We hadn't been around long enough to be recognized much inside
bricks and mortar environments, much less gainfully employed in those
settings. I'm a big fan of the 80/20 rule, and I'll bet that 80% of
information architects worked for agencies back then.
During the ensuing long march, I think that ratio has flipped. Something
like 80% of us are in-house, and 20% are, uh, "out house".
Which is great, if you ask me. It means that information architects have
been recognized as important and valuable enough to have at least one around
full-time and permanent. The flip side is that perhaps we're not as visible
at conferences and in industry media, so it feels like there are fewer of us
My theory is that there are at least as many of us now as there were two or
three years ago, maybe more. It's just that we're quietly working away in
drab cubelands devoid of the Nerf basketballs, cappuccino machines, and
other trappings of the cool agencies where we used to punch in.
What do you think: has there been a mass migration of information
architects in-house? Are there more, fewer, or the same number of IA
positions now than there were in early 2001? And how might we prove or
disprove any of these theories--is there a way do to a reasonable census of
information architects and the places they work?
BLOUG PERMALINK & COMMENTS
My take on the 80/20 rule ::