iSchoolers celebrate information architecture at World IA Day

By Kara Eagens Wednesday, March 11, 2020

World Information Architecture (IA) Day recently brought individuals from all corners of the iSchool together to celebrate IA and connect with experts in the field.

The Seattle portion of the Feb. 22 event consisted of a mini hackathon followed by a series of talks and panels at General Assembly, a global organization dedicated to technology education and training.

A highly anticipated part of the day, the hackathon challenged participants — many Master of Science and Information Management (MSIM) and Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) students and alumni — to design a more intuitive website for the League of Women Voters of Washington, a nonpartisan nonprofit political organization focused on providing election information.

“We’re looking for a fresh perspective on how we can better position ourselves to be a solid resource of information,” said Alyssa Weed, the organization’s president.

“That’s an organization that’s close to my heart,” said MLIS student and hackathon participant Kylie Snyder. “Providing people with information that’s unbiased and can really help people think about the things in their lives without any dark motivations is fun and meaningful.”

One team of iSchool students, who have worked together on two previous hackathons, shared their approach to the redesign.

“We revamped and added a new wireframe design, which focuses on simplicity so it’s easier for any user to navigate and understand the whole idea behind the website,” said Heet Palod, a current early-career MSIM student.

“I never imagined that I could go through IA in the span of three hours,” added Aniruddh Nathani, who is also an early-career MSIM student. “It was more of a learning experience. We don’t know anything about IA, so why not participate and learn something on a Saturday morning instead of just sleep?”

One of the most important aspects of World IA Day each year is that it’s a networking opportunity for people curious about the field.

“It’s important for folks who are younger and getting into IA to meet people they are going to be working with in the industry,” said iSchool Professor Mike Doane, who teaches IA to Informatics, MLIS and MSIM students and served as a judge for the hackathon. “This is a great place to start because the fact is, most of the these people you see here are going to be out working at places like Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing in the next 1-2 years and they’re all going to be working together.”

Sarah Barrett, MLIS ’12, was a speaker at the event and served as a mentor to teams during the hackathon. A senior information architect at Microsoft, Barrett views the world of IA as a tight-knit community and believes in doing her part to foster the next generation of information architects.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that I am building a team and if I want to hire good information architects, I have to be part of their training,” Barrett said. “I really try to work my network as well as I can to introduce people to each other because I want to build a great team and I want to work with great information architects.”

The hackathon’s Best in Show prize went to MSIM students Angie Peng, Daphne Hsu and Samuel Erickson; and the Peer Appreciation Prize was awarded to MSIM students Cheng Feng Sun, Divya Suresh Kumar, Prasanna Muthukumar, Stephen Prochaska and Turam Purty.

Seattle World IA Day was organized almost completely by iSchool alumni. The organizers included Kiran Motwani, MSIM ’19; Akshay Khanna, MSIM ’19; Eric Saltz, MSIM ’18; Charlene Quach, MLIS ’19; Louis Spinelli, MSIM ’17; Julieta Sanchez, MSIM ’17; and Emily Bajet, a current MSIM student.

View more photos of the event on Facebook.