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Social Spaces: Lessons from Radical Architects

While Information Architecture took its name from architecture, it took very little else. This is not surprising, as the early days of the web were about making sites that supported the interaction between people and data. The obvious model back then was a library; a library is a space for humans to receive knowledge. But with the rise of social networks, and the integration of community into almost all online experiences, more architecture practices are directly transferable to design. Online spaces are no longer just about findability, but about falling in love, getting your work done, goofing around, reconnecting with old friends, staving off loneliness… humans doing human things.

As an early Information Architect who had been working in the search field, the presenter found very little but entertainment from phenomenology’s Gaston Bachelard or innovator Frank Gehry. But once she began working on social spaces, it all changed. You may Christopher Alexander from his pattern-language approach to codifying design solutions, but if you go beyond the mere structure you find that in those patterns lies the answers to tricky privacy issues and the cold-start problem. Architects of buildings can help us form a new approach to the architecture of human spaces online. Poetics will go down easy with plenty of real world examples from current websites, shanty villages, air apps and cityscapes.