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Information architecture and storytelling at KMWorld Connect 2021

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At KMWorld Connect 2021, Eric Saltz, information architect, Haus, presented a talk on “Information Architecture & Storytelling.” Saltz shared how narratives and storytelling can shape our communication efforts to make us better information professionals.

KMWorld Connect 2021 is going on this week, November 15 -18, with workshops on Friday, November 19. On-demand replays of sessions will be available for a limited time to registered attendees and many presenters are also making their slide decks available through the conference portal. For more information, go to www.kmworld.com/conference/2021. Access to session archives will be available on or about November 29, 2021, so be sure to check back for on-demand replays.

In discussing the impact of storytelling, Saltz explained its relation to information architecture. Communication is defined as the process of generating meaning by sending and receiving verbal and nonverbal symbols and signs that are influenced by multiple contacts, he said.

From that, he noted, we can already see some overlaps between how we look at language, how we determine categories, how we relate concepts to one another, said Saltz. Communication is also central to the human experience, which involves understanding how people behave and creating exchanging and interpreting messages.  Communications concerns itself with the clarity of message and how people can shape and are shaped by messages, and information architecture works in a similar fashion since information professionals work on the interpretation and organization of data, making information useful and easily reachable to the user.

The paradigm of the narrative rests on two principles: coherence and fidelity, explained Saltz. Coherence includes the degree of sense making of a narrative and the effectiveness in delivery a story is influenced by factors such as the structure of the narrative, the resemblance between stores and the credibility of characters. Fidelity defines the credibility or reliability of the story narrated and is attained by asking a series of questions such as: Are the events factual? Have the facts been distrorted? Are the reasoning patterns followed while narrating? Tips for a successful narrative include having a strong theme, characters, heroes, and villains, and innovation in storytelling with the possibility to achieve a desired outcome and obstacles to overcome.

As an example of the impact of storytelling, Saltz related how a Haus client asked for help in delivering a business intelligence platform that would provide workflow documentation, performance reporting, and output analytics to optimize its routing for creative and production workflows.

There were prior initiatives to try and make the platform a reality, but it had yet to get off the ground due to a range of issues. Saltz said he spent about a month gathering requirements for the project and mapping out characters along the way, continuing to build on to the narrative, and was able to identify the real villains as the multiple systems they had in place. He also identified some characters who were helping the villains, and was able ultimately to help the company successfully reach its goals.

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