World Information Architecture Day | #wiad17

World Information Architecture Day | #wiad17

On Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, I helped celebrate World Information Architecture Day in Vancouver, attending a series of talks by:

Marianne Sweeney – The IA of AI
Lorraine Chisholm – Put a Mental Model to Work: UX, Strategy, and Content
Melissa Breker – How to Use Content Mapping to Collaborate with Stakeholders
Hannah Wei – Lessons Learned Designing for an Emerging Mobile Market
Robin Rozhon – Structured data and SEO
Suzy Gonzalez, Michelle Kang, Rajeshwari Keluskar, Julian Liao, Marly Marquez Ordaz and Gianna Vanoni – IA Lessons
Alan Etkin – Carved Code: Extending First Nations’ Storytelling into the Digital Sphere
Closing Keynote by Karyn Zuidinga – A Strategic Approach to IA

The international hashtag had a lot to offer so I combed through for my favourites in the Storify below.

Changing the Face of a City: Live Tweet Transcript

I got a chance to attend last night’s session on the content strategy used to rework the City of Vancouver’s website from the ground up.

My favourite tidbits:

  • 4,500 citizens responded to a survey about how the City could improve the site–those are outstanding numbers and indicate that the stakes are high
  • The site went from 26,000 HTML pages to under 5,000 through a combination of prioritizing most frequently visited content and rewriting copy in plain English
  • Visitors go to the site to find out about parking and traffic tickets, garbage and recycling, and how to arrange inspections. What does the City focus on? Council minutes and bylaws–after all, the City is required to maintain these records. But that doesn’t service the public.

Want the full transcript tweet by tweet? Here’s my transcript via Storify.

VFS Opens New Gaming Campus in Chinatown

Created by Vancouver Film School student Christine Lee through the VFS 3D (2006)

Last Friday, the Vancouver Film School’s celebrated the launch of its new gaming campus in Chinatown. My friend, Gagan Diesh—a senior instructor at the VFS and Director of DesignStamp—invited me to the event where opening remarks by Mayor Gregor Robertson were followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of the facilities.

Revitalizing Chinatown
When Channel M vacated 88 Easter Pender Street, VFS stepped in to take over the space and open their first dedicated gaming campus. The move is in line with the revitalization of Chinatown, a partnership between the City of Vancouver and the local community to address safety and stimulate economic growth in the area.

Both the City and the community have focused on “attracting new investments while respecting the area’s culture and heritage. Key revitalization strategies include cultural and economic development, public space improvements, intensification of land use, and inter-generational programming.” (May 2009 Backgrounder)

Vancouver is already the third largest hub for film and game production in North America. But before opening its new campus in Chinatown, the VFS was at capacity, struggling with a waitlist of 100 students. The new facility will allow more students to enroll in VFS’s programs, which also carries the promise of more instructors and funding.

Plus, 50 percent of VFS students are international who will ultimately share their experiences here with wider networks. In short, VFS’s new campus is great news for Chinatown and those committed to its renewal.

Women in Gaming
During the event, the VFS also announced the winner of their Third Annual Game Design Scholarship to Women. Valued at up to $50,000, the award enables an aspiring female game designer to attend VFS’s acclaimed one-year Game Design program, covering her full tuition. This year’s winner is Larissa Baptista of Rio de Janeiro. The first of its kind in the world, this scholarship encourages greater opportunities for women pursuing a career in game design.

In an industry traditionally created by and for men, changing demographics highlight why such a scholarship is required:

  • Women now comprise 40% of U.S. video game players.
  • Women age 18 or older now represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (33%) than boys age 17 or younger (18%).
  • Women comprise 55% of all social gamers (web-based games like Farmville played on social networks like Facebook).
  • Women play social games multiple times a day (38%) in comparison to just 29% of males.
  • Women are more likely to play with people they know (68% vs. 56% for males).
    (Source: ESA’S 2008 Consumer Survey and PopCap Games Social Games Survey)

Congratulations to the VFS and all involved in what promises to be a facility that gives back to its city, industry and the broad community of gamers.

CCO Magazine: Pros and Cons

Chief Content Officer Magazine CoverLast month, Joe Pulizzi and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) debuted CCO, “the magazine dedicated to content marketing for senior marketing executives.” For the industry, this is a milestone worth acknowledging. After all, as Joe and Ann Handley discuss in the feature story “Talking Innovation,” content marketing is relatively new which makes the position of CCO, or Chief Content Officer, experimental and even suspect among some folks. A magazine dedicated to content marketing helps validate and legitimize the field as a whole—much in the way that the creation of CMI and books like Content Rules are helping it go mainstream.


  • Multimedia: Each quarterly issue will be distributed in print to 20,000 senior-level marketers across North America and digitally to countless others. European and Australian versions are also in the works. While other publishers fret over the iPad and the digital delivery of their content, Joe and CMI are confidently demonstrating why print remains relevant.
  • Embedded Goodies: Audio podcasts and QR Codes sprinkled throughout the issue supplement the articles just as one would expect of a publication devoted to integrated, enhanced storytelling.
  • Tech Tools: I enjoyed the feature where social influencers share their favourite online tools, making it just a wee bit easier for me to keep up with the latest and greatest in a fast-moving industry. In this issue, I found out about slick bar code stickers by from Katie McCaskey.


  • Editorial Slant: I found the first issue to be unusually weighted to B2B content, including an article on “what B2B can learn from their hip B2C cousins” and a case study of Kinaxis, a Canadian B2B supply chain management company. Is this a direct reflection of the fact CCO is a supplement to BtoB Magazine? Then, this is a publication for senior marketing executives in the B2B industry and the mission should be amended accordingly.
  • Content Smorgasbord: This free-for-all is one of the final editorial pages and it seems like an afterthought, shoehorning whatever didn’t fit elsewhere in a “smorgasbord.” Meh.
  • Design: In her review “CCO: Good Enough?,” Christine Thompson provides a detailed look at the digital production quality of the magazine. While there are some quirks that are surely being tweaked and refined in terms of its delivery, I’ll add that the layout and design of the magazine could use the same love.

At minimum, the cover needs to tie more closely to what’s covered in each issue.CCO Cover
“Content is the new black”? What’s that related to? Nowhere in the magazine is this clarified. Net-a-Porter’s weekly digital fashion magazine is briefly mentioned in an article but it’s a stretch to connect it back to the cover. Readers shouldn’t have to work this hard. Add an Editor’s Message to provide a high-level preview of each issue’s topics and discuss the cover.

CCO Table of Contents
Plus, proofreading matters. The table of contents is out of sequence.

CCO Call-Out Box
There’s a call-out box appears right above the quote in the text it’s trying to highlight. O.o.

Marketers aren’t likely to be very forgiving when it comes to design, layout and creative.

Last Word

I’m definitely looking forward to upcoming issues of this publication and congratulate all who are involved in launching CCO. When so many are happy to trumpet the demise of the publishing industry, it’s nice to rally around a bold, new project that challenges the naysayers.

Agree? Disagree? I want to know your take on CCO—post a comment below or email me.

Are writers and graphic designers equal in the eyes of our employers, peers, and clients?

I wonder if we treat all content creators with the same level of respect. I have a suspicion that, in general, writers get the short-end of the stick. My rationale is that since everyone who works with a writer is literate, they often think they can also actually write. Graphic designers and digital media artists also regularly encounter laypeople who think they can do it better. But, more than likely, they are afforded a certain degree of esteem in recognition of their professional expertise.

Do you agree? Is it because designers are proficient at using specialized software whereas writers can resort to stalwart but boring pens and paper? Are we digital snobs?

Do we also de-value text in favour of graphics? I find that the highest priority is always placed on the visuals, and copy can often be an after-thought. In fact, I am struggling against a trend to move work out of the hands of dedicated writers/editors to data entry workers.

If all content is not equal, what does that mean for us?

I originally made this post on The Content Wrangler Community (LinkedIn) on December 2, 2008.