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World IA Day Curious?

In February 2021 we will celebrate the ninth annual World Information Architecture Day. This year our theme is curiosity. I am writing today in an attempt to elicit some curiosity on your part about how this amazing event runs. Spoiler Alert: Its people. It runs on people.

As a young information architect looking to get involved with the larger field of practice, I found a community of like minds through the Information Architecture Institute more than a decade ago. I started my time as a volunteer working on the IAI’s IDEA Conference, a single track conference held in North America annually for an attendance of 300 people.

One year into working on that team, I boldly wrote a proposal to no longer run that annual conference. In my mind, there were enough conferences made for people with training budgets and the ability to travel far and wide in search of the wisdom of our collective journey. What we needed was a local commitment to Information architecture, all over the world. 

And so, World IA Day was born.

Nine years later: here we are, and World IA Day is now celebrated by thousands every year on 6* continents and is estimated to have brought free IA Education to 35,000+ people in their local communities.

Volunteers run the World (IA Day)

I don’t want to gloss over this part: this all takes a lot of work. Work that was and continues to be entirely done by volunteers. It takes hundreds of people to put on this global show every year, which means every year we have to find new people who want to give time and energy to what we see as a worthy cause: getting free information architecture education to as many sensemakers as possible. 

Over my career I have always given my time to this community. When people ask my advice on how to get themselves better established in their IA career, I recommend volunteering. When someone moves to a new city and wants to meet new people, I recommend volunteering. When someone is trying to improve their craft or portfolio and are struggling with how to best do that, I recommend volunteering. 

I find that the time we invest in our community is actually time we are investing in ourselves, because it is us putting time into the world we want to practice in. 

So if you want to be able to attend, speak at or volunteer at a World IA Day one day, make sure the team has what it needs so that there is a World IA Day when you are ready for it. 

We need you.

The World IA Day team has four very specific roles to fill within the community. 

If someone you know sounds like a good fit for any of the roles below, please help out the WIAD 2021 team by sending along this article or otherwise making the connection. 

  1. Community Liaisons: We want to get the word out about World IA Day to more communities, to broaden our network of speakers and attendees. In order to do that, we would like to find the right volunteers who understand the unique needs and messaging opportunities within underrepresented communities. If you think that your community is underrepresented at World IA Day and think you have the insights and connections to help us to do better by that community. Volunteer and mention that you want to be a World IA Day community liaison.  
  1. WIAD Webmaster: We have a Drupal site that needs constant love and care to keep the content feeling fresh and up to date. Currently the global board of World IA Day spend extra time in their weeks to do these updates, but no one has time for ongoing strategic work or usability observation and improvement. We are looking for someone familiar with Drupal maintenance and development to be our webmaster for the World IA Day site.  We need you to be technical enough to do most webmaster tasks yourself, so if you don’t know what that might entail — this probably isn’t the right role for you.This is an entirely volunteer position and we would expect it to be no more than 3 hrs a week. We would love to find someone willing to commit to the project at least through Spring 2021. Volunteer and mention that you want to be a WIAD Webmaster
  1. Content Manager for the WIAD content repository: We need someone to help find, collect, and categorize World IA Day content, including videos, articles, and other resources created for local WIAD events. The content repository is in a flux as we figure out how to best curate and feature past WIAD talks. The current website does not support everything that we need, so this work may take place in spreadsheets as we figure out solutions. This is a flexible volunteer position, asking for at most 5 hours a week. Volunteer and mention that you want to manage content in the WIAD content repository.
  2. IAI Archive Advisor: We need someone to assess the assets that were produced or acquired by the IA Institute during its decade plus history. This person would be responsible for recommending the approach, team, structure and resources that would be needed for archiving the assets worth saving for future generations. One of the first milestones would be recommendations for updates to the IAInstitute.org to communicate the current state of the now closed organization. This could be an amazing case study for the right person or group that wanted to work on a project together. This is an entirely volunteer position and we would expect it to be at least 5-7 hrs a week for 6-12 months to set the team up with the right plan and roadmap. Volunteer and mention that you want to be IAI Archive Advisor

If you can’t give time, please give money. 

There are three ways to give money to help the World IA Day team right now:

  1. If you have access to AmazonSmile, set your account to benefit World IA Day, Inc (https://smile.amazon.com/ch/84-3158026)
  2. Donate your hard-earned sense-making cash — We are a US nonprofit 501c3 now! World IA Day is starting a giving campaign. Give a coffee a month (min $5/month) to help support the local and global events. (https://donorbox.org/worldiaday)
  3. Propose a sponsorship opportunity to your organization (treasury@worldiaday.org)

Communities cannot function without truly focusing on succession planning. If now is not the right time for you to give money or none of these roles fit your skillset, don’t worry.

I will keep asking when I hear of openings that this community needs to grow better year after year. One day (perhaps today?) I hope you will see yourself in one of our requests.

*where are you, Antarctica? I will wait as long as it takes…