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Non-IA IA Books

John Luke
02:39 PM ET (US)
"Beyond the Stable State" by Donald A. Schon, on the interactions among social, technical and personal systems and world views and on how to conceptualize and accommodate ongoing change in all three. "How the West Grew Rich" by Nathan Rosenberg and L. E. Birdzell, Jr., for a clear-eyed, historically based view of the ways in which government and the marketplace have evolved a mostly successful synergy. "Drug Crazy" by Mike Gray and, for a deeper perspective, "Drug War Politics" by Eva Bertram, et al., on how policies can harden into ideologies and become toxic on a worldwide scale. All of the above are, in one way or another, about how we think under the influence of ignorance, excessive ardor, or fear of the unknown.
Scott Bauer
03:13 AM ET (US)
The Theater and Its Double, by Antonin Artaud.

Artaud argued that as western culture co-opts artistic expression into safe channels, increasingly repressed irrational aspects of art - based on dreams, myth, emotion - become increasingly important. Artaud saw the theatre (well, certain aspects of the theatre) as providing an outlet for these.

As the web becomes more-and-more "tamed", there will be an analogous need. Weblogs are one aspect of filling such needs. I would argue that good design will as well - balancing the "predictability" of ease of use with an ability to encourage serendipitous discoveries.
Edited 08-26-2000 03:14 AM
Javier Candeira
07:38 AM ET (US)
Jeremy P. Bushnell
11:34 PM ET (US)
I'll have to chip in a vote for the sections of Richard Dawkins' *The Selfish Gene* where he cooks up his theory on the now-infamous "meme." I'll sidestep the whole quagmire about whether memes "really exist" by just thinking about them as a vivid metaphor for the way information "moves." And the meme is a great metaphor, one that does what the best metaphors do -- causes you to look at the world in a different way.
Edited 08-23-2000 11:35 PM
Steve Yost
03:31 PM ET (US)
The main current of my reading lately has been loosely based on evolutionary biology, with Richard Wright's "The Moral Animal" and the more technical Robert Axelrod's "The Complexity of Cooperation" as the highlights. Thinking analytically about how we cooperate and compete sheds a cold, bright light on our interactions (use it only occasionally or you'll become a bot). A step removed from IA, but they definitely inform the process and value of talking to your users.

Speaking of which, Javier, I implemented href links just for you this morning. I'd like to hear more about your reactions, but not in peterme's forum, so please branch a topic or email me: mailto:syost@quicktopic.com .
Javier Candeira
07:29 PM ET (US)
I tend to think a lot in term of the "Course in General Lingüistics", by Saussure (well, his lessons were penned down by a student, actually. and s/he gets no credit. duh). I think "what is the opposite of this?", "would it mean anything?", "would it serve any function?", "is that a function we need?"...

"¿Are we extending the right set of meanings?" "¿Will people get our conventions?"

So you see, all this Difference and Binary Opposites stuff you learn when training as a linguist is quite useful when doing web design.

That and "A Pattern Language", by Christopher Alexander, but you already know that.

BTW, the URLS on this discussion forum technology thingie just plain suck. And there is no preview feature. Though this edit/delete feature makes up for it. Only I did not know it was there. tsk tsk.
Edited 08-22-2000 07:31 PM
Bob Kanuri
04:30 PM ET (US)
"Mirror Worlds" by David Gerlenter is a fascinating book on computer science. But don't let the topic scare you away. Rather than focusing on technical arcana it tries to predict how pervasive computing will change our world. The ideas predate the web by several years and the book was acknowledged by Bill Joy as a main source of inspiration for Java/JNI. Anyone looking for a introduction to these magnificent ideas should read the edge.org article: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/gelernter/gelernter_index.html.
Edited 08-22-2000 04:32 PM
Jen Kitchen
08:22 PM ET (US)
How about Tracy Kidder books, particularly _House_ and _Soul of a New Machine_? It is great storytelling, yet they are non-fiction. You get example of how teams work together, how the individual experiences of team members affect what happens within the team, how a project is built by a team. I love these style of books. Case studies fascinate me far more than abstract theoretical discussions.
Steve Mulder
07:42 PM ET (US)
My instinct here is to vote for a good novel, because I think storytelling is something we Information Architects think too little about. But when faced with the task of choosing a particular novel, I'm paralyzed. Just read 'em all!
06:10 PM ET (US)
Trying out a new technology here.
I thought my list of books might encourage others to speak up.
What books have you found inform you in your design practice? I'm more interested in non-design books--novels, poems, memoirs, histories, explanations of science, etc.

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