EuroIA – Design for Good

I can’t begin to express how much this year’s EuroIA conference affected me – in so many positive ways.

This was a conference of Information Architects, which I attended for the first time 2 years ago, in Prague. This year’s edition was in Edinburgh, and I was pleased and honoured to be included among the speakers.

What struck me most about the programme, was that without having any announced theme, almost all the presentations, from Lisa Welchman’s opening keynote to the closer by Andrea Resmini, touched at some point on the need for those of us who design and develop content and the systems that deliver content to people to think humanistically, to be ethical, to think about doing – or “designing for” – good. The meeting was a veritable love fest of people who talked about all the usual subjects – structured information, SEO, interfaces, usability, etc. – but always in terms of how this can make life better – not just make better customer experiences, but make a better world.

Architecting the Future

It was a personal highlight for me to finally meet Lisa Welchman face to face and have time to chat with her. I described our Transformation Society project to her, and she jumped on it with enthusiasm. I understood, later, when in her keynote, she asked the question, “Can we use Information Architecture to broker world peace?”

But it wasn’t only the stars of the conference who touched on this subject – everybody somehow had something to say about ho information architecture and humanism were connected.

Your humanist nerd found himself among kindred spirits, most of whom were from another community than the one I usually frequent at conferences, though there were a few familiar faces, most notably Joe Sokohl, a frequent speaker at the Technical Communications Summit and other tech comm conferences. It was very important to me to be able to address my message, about embedding user assistance in information design, following principles of cognitive science, to my fellow content-workers from a sister discipline, and I believe the message was well-received.

Achieving Excellence

Remarkably, not one presentation that I attended at this conference was anything less than excellent. The conference committee, lead by Eric Reiss, deserve a special hat-tip for bringing this off. Anyone who has ever organized a conference knows how difficult it is to ensure that every presentation will be of high quality, and they did it!

I recommend to any content worker, regardless of your special field of interest or expertise, to plan to attend this conference, which in 2014 will take place in Brussels. But beware! They keep the numbers limited to around 200 people, to keep the conference intimate and allow serious networking to occur.

Author: Ray

Ray Gallon is president and co-founder of The Transformation Society (, a research, training and consulting company focusing on building learning organisations that can manage complexity and the digital transformation. He has over 40 years as a communicator, first as an award-winning radio producer and journalist, then in the technical content industries. His management experience includes a stint as program manager of WNYC-FM, New York City’s public radio station. Ray is a self-described "humanist nerd," and has always been interested in the meeting point between technology and culture, and has used his broad experience to advantage with companies such as IBM, General Electric Health Care, Alcatel, 3M, and the OECD, as well as in smaller companies and startup enterprises. Ray recently helped co-found the Information 4.0 Consortium ( and serves as its current president. Ray is a university lecturer and a keynote speaker at events throughout the world. He has contributed articles and chapters to many books and periodicals and is the editor of the recently published “Language of Technical Communication” (XML Press).

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