White Paper: Envisioning Our Information Future

White Paper: Envisioning Our Information Future

In 2015 I was invited to participate in a small #InfoFutures forum funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and hosted by the Simmons School of Library and Information Science.  We were tasked with envisioning the future of information and how to educate future information professionals for this emerging world.

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Free Templates to Keep Your Design Sprint on Track

Free Templates to Keep Your Design Sprint on Track

Like many organizations, Mozilla Firefox has been experimenting with the Google Ventures Design Sprint method as one way to quickly align teams and explore product ideas. Last fall I had the opportunity to facilitate a design sprint for our New Mobile Experiences team to explore new ways of connecting people to the mobile web. Our team had a productive week and you can read more about our experience in this post on the Sprint Stories website.

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"Fleeting Little Universes of Delight"


Last night I had the pleasure of attending my first Chicago Women Developers Meetup to hear Marcin Wichary of the Google Doodle team give a talk on building doodles. Marcin has worked on memorable Google doodles like PAC-MAN and Jules Verne.

Marcin centered his talk around some of the tension inherent in user experience design:

Oversight vs. Freedom
Embracing Familiarity vs. Habitually Trying New Things
Looking Forward vs. Looking Back
Code That Feels Nice vs. Code That Gets the Job Done
Art vs. Technology

Marcin hopes that the, "fleeting little universes of delight" that the Google Doodle team creates will get people excited about what's possible on the web today and inspire people to use tools in ways that weren't originally envisioned. They treat the Google home page as a place for fun and exploration, not a platform to show off. It's about using new technologies to "do something that will delight the user."

It was a great talk. If you missed it, check out Marcin's talk on Google PAC-MAN from Google IO.

(Image Credit: Google)

Student Status

My December graduation date is arriving quickly. Since this is the last time in my life I expect to be a student, I'm hoping to take advantage of any associated perks before I receive my diploma (and read all the library articles I can). Some of the best include:

Adobe: Up to 80% off software. Amazon: Free Amazon Prime (free 2-day shipping). Apple: Education discounts on hardware and software. Axure: Popular wireframing and rapid prototyping software. Good students (3.0 GPA or higher) receive a free license. Lyric Opera: Discounted tickets to Chicago opera. Professional Organizations: Many, like the ALA, offer steep discounts to students on membership dues and conferences. WebStore: Free and discounted software. UI-specific, but many universities have something similar.

Anything else I shouldn't miss?

Community Fabrication Lab

I had the opportunity to tour the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab this afternoon. This amazing resource is part of a network of digital fabrication labs around the world. SocioTechnical Systems Professor Betty Barrett gave us a tour of the facility. The lab is primarily operated by volunteer staff and is open to anyone in the community. In addition to open-source software work stations and a huge variety of tools, the lab also houses impressive machinery including a Roland Servo Desktop Vinyl Cutter and an Epilog Helix 350 Laser Engraver.

Fab Lab

A few things I learned:

-The laser engraver doesn't require extremely advanced design skills or obscure file formats. It uses PDF files (exclusively) to engrave areas up to 12" x 18." Users must determine the size, speed, and frequency of the laser. An initial test run is always conducted on cardboard to ensure an acceptable final product. You can read more about this machine on the Fab Lab CU site.

-Inkscape is an open source scaleable vector graphics editor that is popular in the lab (SVG file format).

-It's possible to make inflatable steel furniture (not in the lab, I just thought this was neat).

-The lab occasionally hosts workshops. I'm disappointed that I'll be missing their workshop on wearables this weekend (there is still space, if you want to sign up). We were able to check out the amazing textiles they ordered from Inventables, like temperature sensitive polyester, conductive elastic fabric, and glass fiber metallic mesh.

Fab Lab Art Annex 2 1301 South Goodwin Avenue Urbana, IL 61801


My first substantive post to this website garnered a bit of attention back in June. At the time I was reading Information Architecture for the World Wide Web and becoming increasingly disillusioned by the lack of relevant course offerings in my program. My short post was picked up by none other than Peter Morville himself:


This exchange sparked the beginning of a conversation with some GSLIS administrators and I'm hoping to get involved with the Curriculum Committee this fall. In July, the Library Journal referenced my post in the article Putting the UX in Education | The User Experience and Office Hours by Aaron Schmidt & Michael Stephens. They write,

"User experience (UX) thinking was born at information schools but hasn’t found a home in many libraries. Why not? The answer is simple. Many LIS programs haven’t integrated UX coursework into their curricula, and libraries suffer as a result....  LIS schools reviewing curricula may want to shift some of the focus placed on materials and process to user needs, behavior, and creating experience."

They go on to recommend specific coursework (like interpreting and employing user research and usability testing), while suggesting that elements of UX should be part of the overall LIS curriculum.

Information in Information Science

I decided to begin my summer reading with Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Peter Morville & Louis Rosenfeld, or as it is commonly referred to "the polar bear book." Both Morville and Rosenfeld pursued advanced degrees in library and information science before they popularized the field of information architecture and published the first edition of this book in 1998. A large percentage of information architects hold an MLIS and it is evident in Information Architecture that Morville & Rosenfeld find strong connections between their formal education and their work.

When I began my graduate education at one of the top-rated iSchools last year, I (perhaps naively) expected a more "information" oriented curriculum. However, in my experience most library schools remain heavily focused on traditional librarianship and the information needs of academia. While these areas of scholarship are undeniably culturally and intellectually significant, the focus often seems to ignore the broader context of information needs. This is particularly perplexing at a time when the library world is going through so many painful changes. Libraries are closing or are engaged in year-round efforts to fight for funding. Many new librarians go years before landing their first professional position. At the same time, library schools continue to increase their enrollment each year with ever-expanding distance programs. I love libraries and I hope every one of them is saved, but I believe there is great work to be done outside those walls too, and that librarians are uniquely positioned to take it on.

Good information architecture combats information overload - a well-covered concept in LIS education. So, why does there appear to be so much friction between traditional and nontraditional librarianship? Why hasn't my grad program offered a course on information architecture in more than five years? Why is book cataloguing considered a more noble career path than structuring and organizing information outside of a library setting?