Jesse has posted the final installment of his ia/recon. The whole of the series is on one page, which eases reading and following along. I like where Jesse ended up, which is with hunches and working toward building better tools. I can not say that I see things that differently. I am walking some folks through this now teaching the skills and having them grasped is not as easy as I thought. I use IA as one of the skills in my tool belt to help build sites that work better for the users. I use IA to build information applications that are easier to use and more "intuitive".
I did not know what I was doing was IA, but is was how a target audience was defined in communication and also the tasks that I had gone through to develop software (first on the client side and then used it in my own tool belt and had good results). Learning how users think about information and processes then grouping and structuring content toward the results of the research seemed like a natural step. I used to teach Sunday school and learning how to tie lessons to understandable chunks of information was a very important skill to learn. I have always looked at trying to help build a more efficient flow of information between the two or more parties involved in the data/information/knowledge transaction. The best way to ease the information flow is to understand the user and how they consume information. What is the mind set of the user that comes to the information transaction? How do they think of the information? Where will logically place the information in their personal information repository so that they may make use of that information. Half the trick to being knowledgeable if having an easy way retrieve and access the information store, be that stored in someone's mind, in a database, in a book, or on a Web site. Understanding the information transaction from the individual and personal standpoint of a user is the best place to start.
I have weighed through useless metadata repositories and been asked to fill in metadata structures that I knew I personally would not be able to retrieve information from, let a lone glean knowledge. Metadata becomes most helpful when it is seamless, not over burdensome to capture, and ties relevant items together in a means that not only one user group can easily make sense of but multiple user groups. IA is tightly tied to the Web, which is helping this young technology. The Web provides the wonderful ability to cross categorize and cross link to similar interests and store information in places that people can find related materials easily.
I am one that has continually had problems with one of the most commonly used metadata repositories, the Yellow Pages. To me the Yellow Pages are utterly useless. Nothing is ever what I think to call anything. I want to go buy pants. That becomes a task in the Yellow Pages. Even better is having to go retrieve something from a bar and trying to use the Yellow Pages to find the number of a bar name that did not stick in your head the first time by choosing a tavern, pub, or nightclub to start. None it was a bar. Not an option. I love IA and information structure because I have sympathy.