Workplace and Career

February 26th, 2004

Planning your future

A few years ago, a manager of mine gave me the assignment to work on a five-year career plan. I had never created a career plan before (not even to plot out goals for the coming year), so I was completely unprepared for how and why I should do this.

At the beginning of 2004, Boxes and Arrows, takes a moment to reflect back on the predictions made for 2003 and where we landed at year’s end. Feeling optimistic, we also invited our peers in the community to share some of their professional resolutions for the new year.

In 1934, years before Vannevar Bush dreamed of the memex, decades before Ted Nelson coined the term “hypertext,” Paul Otlet envisioned a new kind of scholar’s workstation: a mechanical desk that would let users search, read, and write their way through a vast database stored on millions of 3×5 index cards.

There is not consensus on exactly what information design is. Definitions of the discipline from stakeholders who associate themselves with the field are consistent only in that they are typically high level, not very concrete and do not offer much in the way of direct practical application.

The following ten things have been said by actual clients and represent common and very human reactions to a new wrinkle in the process of building software: design. By gathering these comments in one place and sharing them widely, it becomes easier to recognize them, so we can keep our calm and contribute to effective software teams.

Once upon a time, we were curious and everything we encountered was new. We were excited about discovering new things and the world offered unlimited possibilities. Then we went to school and were taught to color inside the lines, that everything had its place and the world was ordered.

Both programming and IA are oriented towards abstraction. They both want to find patterns and rules that describe and predict. They both are concerned with handling structured content and metadata. But more often than not, IAs don’t know what’s going on with code. In this article, Andrew Otwell introduces IAs to the basic building blocks of programming.

A few months ago, on the cusp of another reorganization, my boss challenged me to present ideas about how my group should be organized. The challenge: “If you could organize the group in whatever way you wanted, what would you recommend doing?” Everyone who has ever been a manager longs to hear those words.

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