How to Make Sense of Any Mess is a book about information architecture for everybody.
I wrote this book because everything is getting more complex and I think the world is going to need an army of sensemakers prepared for the information-based challenges that lay ahead. I believe that information architecture is the right framing of theory and practice to prepare someone to make sense of any mess they might face.
Information architecture is the way that we arrange the parts of something to make it understandable as a whole. When we make things for others to use, the architecture of information that we choose greatly affects our ability to deliver our intended message to our users. We all face messes made of information and people.
I define the word “mess” the same way that most dictionaries do: “A situation where the interactions between people and information are confusing or full of difficulties.” — Who doesn’t bump up against messes made of information and people every day?
The things you’re making sense of may be analog or digital; used once or for a lifetime; made by hand or manufactured by machines. I could have written a book about information architecture for websites or mobile applications or whatever else is trendy. Instead, I decided to focus on ways people could wrangle any mess, regardless of what it’s made of.
I believe every mess and every thing shares one important non-thing : information.
Information is not a fad. It wasn’t even invented in the information age. As a concept, information is old as language and collaboration is.
The most important thing this book can teach you about information is that it isn’t a thing. It’s subjective, not objective. It’s whatever a user interprets from the arrangement or sequence of things they encounter. While we can arrange things with the intent to communicate certain information, we can’t actually make information. Our users do that for us.
Information is a responsibility we all share. We are no longer on the shore watching the information age approach; we’re up to our hips in it. If we’re going to be successful in this new world, we need to see information as a workable material and learn to architect it in a way that gets us to our goals.
This book provides a seven step process for making sense of any mess. Each chapter contains a set of lessons as well as workbook exercises architected to help you to work through your own mess.
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Other Interesting TidBits:
- I have added a preview of the first ten pages of the book.
- I wrote a post about the process I went through called “How I made sense of my mess“
- My editor Nicole Fenton wrote a wonderful piece on how we worked together.
- I wrote a controlled vocabulary for the book that was also used as the list of terms that I indexed in the book.
- Here is a list of all downloadable worksheets from the end of each chapter