I’ve been working in Shanghai for the past two weeks. Being away from my usual environment and routines messed up my reading and writing schedule; I’m only peripherally aware of stuff that I’d pay more attention to under normal circumstances. During these two weeks, an old schoolmate passed away, a client changed jobs, and the board of The Information Architecture Institute announced its decision to dissolve the organization. I haven't responded properly to any of these things.
The latter is especially poignant to me. I won’t write here about the issues that led to the shuttering of the IAI. For now, I’ll say: it’s a sad moment. The Institute has been an important part of my professional life and a catalyst for the discipline. That said, I feel somewhat detached. Perhaps it’s due to being so far away — physically and mentally. But it’s also because I sense it's time for the profession to move on.
Some endings are final. My friend’s passing marks the end of her story. The memory of her goes on, of course. But as a being, she is no more. You can be philosophical about death, but it’s still sad. Other endings are less definitive; they mark the beginning of a new phase. My client’s time with her former employer has ended, but she’s starting a new job soon. It’s a little sad for the folks who are left behind — but it’s also exciting; there are possibilities ahead for the story to continue in new directions.
I choose to think of the end of the IA Institute as more like the latter than the former. Not a definitive conclusion, but an opportunity to explore a new way of being for the discipline of information architecture — hopefully, one that's better as a result of what has come before.