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Jul 28, 2001: The IA Market

OK, here's one interesting takeaway from the last IAsk survey: here are the top ten most popular resources (i.e., journals, sites, and discussion lists) mentioned:

  1. ASIS&T - SIGIA-L (69 mentions)
  2. *ACIA - Argus Center for Information Architecture (59)
  3. *Useit.com (48)
  4. *Elegant Hack (44)
  5. *UsableWeb (27)
  6. *peterme.com (23)
  7. ACM (non SIGCHI) (17)
  8. *Good Experience (17)
  9. *WebWord (17)
  10. ASIS&T - American Society for Information Science & Technology (non SIGIA-L) (15)

Seven (those with asterisks) are essentially labors of love, each run by one or two individuals. The others are under the aegis of two professional associations. It should be clear what's missing: no commercial entities. There are no businesses that are making dedicated efforts to provide content to information architects.

Go further down the list and a few commercial publications, such as Web Techniques and Industry Standard, do appear. But those aren't IA-specific publications, and in general most of the items mentioned are non-commercial.

How much of this is a function of the economic downturn? Certainly to some degree: for example, there were definitely commercial reasons behind the establishment of Good Experience and the ACIA (which was sponsored by Argus). But I'm guessing this dearth of commercially-sponsored content is more tied to two factors:

  1. The field is still too new to have shown up on entrepreneurs' radars. I'm certain this will change; perhaps in two or three years, this top ten list will be populated with a very different selection of resources. Will some of the current favorites merge or be absorbed into a commercial IA behemoth? GoodUsableACIAHackWordIt.com?
  2. The field is still too fractured for many businesses to successfully target. Put another way, we don't all congregate in sufficiently few places to be marketed to effectively. At least not yet. SIGIA-L is the closest thing, but open discussion list-based communities don't typically take well to being commercialized. There is also an inter-community tension: does the IA audience really belong to a broader user experience community? If so, how would that community have responded to this survey?

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