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Information Interaction Design:
A Unified Field Theory of Design

by Nathan Shedroff

One of the most important skills for almost everyone to have in the next decade and beyond will be those that allow us to create valuable, compelling, and empowering information and experiences for others. To do this, we must learn existing ways of organizing and presenting data and information and develop new ones. Whether our communication tools are traditional print products, electronic products, broadcast programming, interactive experiences, or live performances makes little difference. Nor does it matter if we are employing physical or electronic devices or our own bodies and voices. The process of creating is roughly the same in any medium. The processes involved in solving problems, responding to audiences, and communicating to others are similar enough to consider them identical for the purposes of this paper. These issues apply across all types of media and experiences, because they directly address the phenomena of information overload, information anxiety, media literacy, media immersion, and technological overload--all which need better solutions. The intersection of these issues can be addressed by the process of Information Interaction Design. In other circles, it is called simply Information Design, Information Architecture, or Interaction Design, Instructional Design, or just plain Common Sense.

Many people create or engineer interactions, presentations, and experiences for others. Almost all interactions--whether part of a book, a directory, a catalog, a newspaper, or a television program--can be created or addressed by one process. This process can be used to produce every CD-ROM, kiosk, presentation, game, and online service. It can also be used for every dance, music, comedy, or theater performance. While the traditions and technologies may change with every discipline, the process does not.

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Note: This paper is now a chapter in the book Information Design, edited by Bob Jacobson and published by MIT Press.

If you prefer Italian, Franco Giovannini, has posted an excellent translation

 

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Copyright 1994 Nathan Shedroff