Q & A with Peter Morville


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Peter_MorvillePeter is a pioneer of the fields of information architecture and user experience. His best-selling books include Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Ambient Findability, Search Patterns and Intertwingled. He advises such clients as AT&T, Cisco, Harvard, IBM, Macy’s, the Library of Congress, and the National Cancer Institute.

At Text Analytics World 2015 in San Francisco, Peter’s keynote is entitled “The Architecture of Understanding.” Catch an early glimpse of Peter’s expertise by reading the interview below and don’t forget to utilize early bird pricing now to secure your spot to learn from Peter in person at the best rate currently available.

Speaker Interview: Peter Morville, Semantic Studios

In your keynote, you talk about going deep. How do you see text analytics helping in going deep?

Peter Morville: If we hope to design better products, services, and systems, we must first understand the cultures of our users (or customers) and our stakeholders (and staff). Ethnography is one path to deep cultural insights. By observing and interviewing people in their natural habitats, we can learn a great deal about their goals, values, practices, and assumptions. Text analytics promises a different, complementary path to insight. What can we learn about the cultures of users and stakeholders by identifying their linguistic patterns and trends? By marrying high-touch ethnography and high-tech analytics, we can build towards a deeper understanding of the design elements necessary to ensure a lasting, bi-cultural fit.

In what ways do you think that text analytics has actively impacted information architecture?

Peter Morville: I’ve been interested in text analytics ever since I was in library school in the early 1990s, but I haven’t had much opportunity to use text analytics within the context of my information architecture work. I’ve worked with a few clients who use software to largely automate the process of tagging or classifying content, but most of the organizations I work with still rely on manual metadata. I’m hopeful this will change in the next few years, but only if the text analytics industry does a better job of demonstrating its value within the context of user experience. Given the growing popularity of faceted search from enterprise and ecommerce to social and mobile contexts, there’s a great opportunity to apply text analytics software to the creation and management of tags and taxonomies.

Where do you see the greatest potential for the combination of IA and text analytics?

Peter Morville: As an information architect, I’m often asked to create structural designs for massive content collections (e.g., a database of millions of scientific journal articles), so that users can find what they need. Of course, text analytics can help with findability, but I’d like to identify better ways to encourage discovery too. The intelligence community has been using text analytics to surface the “unknown unknowns” for years. Isn’t it time to leverage text analytics software to integrate findability and discovery into a wider range of applications?

What do you see as the most exciting potential for the field of IA?

Peter Morville: There are many ways to understand or define information architecture. The “polar bear book” (which we wrote in 1998) focused on organization and navigation for websites. Since then, our field has evolved to support mobile, social, and cross-channel user experiences. We are involved in planning and placemaking for ecosystems that span physical and digital contexts. This work requires that we serve as change agents and mapmakers. We help people to see differently by making the invisible visible. In today’s complex, fast-changing world, we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to serve as architects of understanding. That’s what I find most existing about the potential of the field of IA.

SNEAK PREVIEW: Please tell us a take-away that you will provide during your keynote presentation at Text Analytics World.

Peter Morville: Last September, I went hiking in the Grand Canyon, rim to rim, in a day. So, I’m walking along, thinking deep thoughts about the two thousand million year old rocks around me, when I hear a rattle. And, if you’d like to know how the story ends, and how it’s connected to everything from code to culture (and text analytics too), you’ll have to come to the keynote.


Uncover what happened with Peter, the Grand Canyon, and text analytics by signing up to attend Text Analytics World. Sign up to attend by February 6th to enjoy early bird pricing.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Eric Siegel
Eric Siegel, PhD, founder of Predictive Analytics World and Text Analytics World, author of "Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die," and Executive Editor of the Predictive Analytics Times, makes the how and why of predictive analytics understandable and captivating. Eric is a former Columbia University professor who used to sing educational songs to his students, and a renowned speaker, educator and leader in the field.


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