Peter Morville on Farming & Information Architecture
What I think of first when folks mention Peter Morville is how he hailed a cab for me outside of the Library of Congress in DC on a late…
What I think of first when folks mention Peter Morville is how he hailed a cab for me outside of the Library of Congress in DC on a late summer afternoon — this happened more than ten years ago. We were talking while standing on the sidewalk after a meeting. I had been trying to hail a cab and had just about given up and decided that walking the relatively short distance to Union Station and catching a later train back to Baltimore was an option. I asked him if he would try.
For those not in the know, hailing cabs in big cities can be difficult for Black folks in the USA. Peter put up his hand and had immediate success. Before I got in the cab, I watched something dial in with him, and he said to me something like, “this must be intolerable.” There was a mix of what seemed to be anger, confusion, and compassion on his face. I watched him understand something about my experience of being in the world that was different from his experience. I got in the cab, we waved, and I made my train.
In a two-episode Surfacing podcast discussion that Andy Vitale and I had with Peter, compassion and taking the time to see and understand someone else’s experience shine through as themes. In part one, Peter talks about the humility that comes with learning the new vocation of farming, and we start talking about the state of experience design and information architecture. Then, in the second part of our conversation, Peter talks more deeply about IA and workers who struggle with new tools and ways of working with information. And, we ask Peter about what strengths a new generation of information architectures and designers bring to the table — and what challenges they’ll face.