So long, Frank Lloyd Wright (or, How to keep your content from leaking)

Frank Lloyd Wright is arguably the most famous name in architecture of the 20th century, if not all time. His designs were visionary and beautiful and he turned his attention on everything from single-family homes to mansions to public spaces to office buildings. He even developed a system of pre-fabricated homes to be assembled on site, and his Usonia was one of the first planned communities in the modern world.

Unfortunately, many of his buildings are not standing the test of time very well—foundations are giving way, roofs leak. The rooms are small and the ceilings low–design features at odds with modern living. Behind the beauty and elegance, many of Wright’s designs were simply not practical; he valued form over function. Still, even as present-day owners invest enormous sums of money into preserving their houses, most of them maintain they nevertheless consider it a privilege to live in a Wright-designed home.

This presentation discusses Wright’s architectural career and philosophy and compares it to information architecture, showing that the same principles that apply to designing physical spaces apply to designing information spaces as well. The same flaws found in Wrightsian designs occur and cause the same problems in an information design. And yet, the strong points in Wright’s approach–scaleability, reuse of individual parts, and customer awareness—are every bit as important in an information space as in a physical space.

What can the audience expect to learn?

This presentation is a bit of fun and expands on a metaphor that we often use when explaining information architecture and structured content to others… the idea of constructing a building vs. constructing content. For audience members who are very familiar with information architecture and structured content, it’s a chance to think about those concepts in perhaps a different light. For audience members who are new to those concepts, it ties them together with physical, tangible equivalents that might help make some of the ideas a little clearer. It’s also a chance to learn a bit more about a man who, for all of his personal flaws, changed the course of modern architecture forever.

Meet the presenter

Leigh White is a DITA author, information architect, and DITA Open Toolkit fanatic. She advocates that effective technical communicators need to be more than writers; they need to be part programmer, part designer and part project manager.

 

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