Frequently Asked Questions: Local Groups

What is a Local Information Architecture (IA) Group?

A Local IA Group is any regularly coordinated gathering of people within a geographical region for the purposes of discussing Information Architecture and related issues.

Who can participate in a Local IA Group?

A group and its participants may be defined in many different ways according to the needs of the community and the type of interaction and support desired by those involved. Some groups may be created specifically for those currently practicing IA at a senior level, others may be for anyone interested in Information Architecture regardless of experience. When thinking about starting or joining a Local IA Group, it is important to think about the type of discussion you are interested in and would find most useful.

What support does IAI provide Local IA Groups?

Web hosting for your local group website, one-on-one coaching for group leaders, and event management support via Basecamp and coaching are some of the ways the IAI gives direct support to local groups. The Networking Guide [download] has tips for planning, and the Geo-Locate tool is a great way to find IAI members in your region. Contact localgroups to request support.

How often does a Local IA Group meet?

The gathering schedule of a Local IA Group should take into account the needs and interest level of those involved. In order to be most successful, a Local IA Group will ideally meet on a somewhat regular schedule - whether that is monthly or twice a year will likely depend on what the community can support and how many meetings would be of most benefit.

Where are Local IA Group meetings held?

The chosen meeting place for a Local IA Group meeting will depend on a number of factors such as the type of group involved, the number of expected participants and the level of formality desired for the gathering and its conversation. Some smaller groups have met at an individual's home, others have met at a centrally located restaurant or pub, and some have created a more formal setting by meeting at a workplace after hours or other space conducive to presentations.

What is discussed at a Local IA Group gathering?

A Local IA Group gathering can be structured around a particular arranged topic that is announced in advance or it can be an open conversation among participants surrounding whatever IA related topics they feel like talking about that night. Some gatherings have involved creative brainstorming of a real or fictional IA challenge, others have brought in guest speakers for a more formal presentation, and many are just convivial gatherings where the only guidelines for discussion are an interest in IA. A Local IA Group may also decide to alternate the discussions and their level of formality depending on the desires of those attending.

What are the benefits of a Local IA Group?

A Local IA Group can provide a number of benefits to both individual IA practitioners and to the IA community as a whole:

  • Networking Networking is one of the most important reasons for participating in a professional organization. Sometimes people are intimidated by the idea of networking - they may worry that it may involve a lot of small talk with people they don't have much in common with. Ideally, much of networking can be the opposite - good, in depth discussions with people of like-minded interests. Think of networking as simply the process of building and developing a set of contacts or professional acquaintances. Like a social network, these contacts may include varying levels of closeness and involvement. Contacts you make while networking can help you find jobs, brainstorm on solutions for a current professional challenge or just offer informal discourse with someone who understands your point of view. A Local IA Group can help coordinate a group of people within your geographical region with whom you engage face to face and gain valuable networking contacts.
  • Creating a sense of community One of the reasons many of us get involved with an organization like AIfIA is that we are looking for a community of individuals who are interested in similar issues as ourselves. We may want to find someone to mentor us, to learn new practices or technology, or we may be ready to share our own knowledge and experiences with others. Participating in a Local IA Group can help you feel part of a larger group and creates a place where you can find someone who can understand your IA challenges and appreciate your victories.
  • Professional Development A Local IA Group can be a great resource for professional development. Whether you are looking for recommendations on classes or workshops to take, books to read or just need another expert to ask those tricky questions, a local network of professionals can provide great resources for growth and improvement. Everyone has an area of expertise or a domain of information that can be of value to someone else, and participating in a coordinated effort to establish a professional community like a Local IA Group can really jumpstart your own development.
  • Creative Exchange Do you ever wish you could find a place to float your most crazily creative ideas? To get feedback on which pieces of your current IA vision will work and which ones may need more tweaking? A Local IA Group can be a place where you can find a sounding board for innovation and inspiration. Some of the best ideas can come from discussions with someone else who bounces off of your input and brainstorms their own contributions. No Local IA Group in your area? Think about starting one!
  • Marketing and advancement of the IA profession Establishing a Local IA Group can be a great step in advancing and promoting information architecture. Just getting the word out that a group exists for the discussion of IA related issues can start to make others aware of information architecture and help them recognize its value as a profession and a vital part of a successful company. If you are already involved in a Local IA Group, you could have a "non-members" event where you can extol the virtues of IA and help spread the word!

How can I start a Local IA Group?

You can find basic steps to starting a Local IA Group, tips from the field and other resources on our Start a Local IA Group page.

This page was last modified on March 19, 2007 06:28 PM.