Do you perform Information Architecture or a Data Architecture?

So, full disclosure, I care about Wikipedia.  Call me dumb, I know.  Wikipedia has been described, alternatively, as the best platform ever invented for fostering useless arguments among ignorant people /and/ the most successful encyclopedia effort of all time.  The truth, as always, lies between these extremes.

Well, I’m part of a small team that is working to clean up the Wikipedia pages dealing with Enterprise Architecture.  One thing that we noted recently is the fact that there are two pages, similar, both rather poor, that cover essentially the same topic.

One page is called “Information Architecture” and the other is called “Data Architecture.”

We don’t believe that there should be two distinct pages.  Wikipedia has a feature called “redirect” that allows the name of one page to point to another.  So it’s possible to bring these together.  However, the debate is now open… which one?  Should the field be called “Information architecture” or “Data architecture”?

(Note, for a while, User Experience Designers used the term Information Architect.  That seems to have faded and been replaced with User Experience Designer.  I’d love to hear from folks in the UxD business about whether they feel ownership or kinship to the term “information architect”)

Or, third option, we are wrong… and there should be two distinct pages because these are two distinct concepts.


I asked for responses to a quick survey on the questions above.  I’d like to share the responses.

There were 55 responses between Nov 21st and Dec 2nd, 2014.  The responses broken down to be approximately equal: 1/3rd from North America, 1/3rd from Europe, and 1/3rd from Australia and New Zealand.

In the first question, I asked if there should be one article or two.  The answer from the community is: a dead even split.


In the second question, I asked if we were to go with one article, what term should win out.  Information Architecture, Data Architecture or It doesn’t matter.  As an out, I gave folks the ability to answer this one with: leave two terms. 

For the folks who want to combine to one term, Information Architecture beats Data Architecture hands down (34.5% vs 10%). 

But half of you (49%) said: No.  Leave two terms.  They are different!


Analysis and Decisions

With these results, I’m inclined to leave two pages and just work out the distinctions so that there is clarity.  That would be in keeping with the career path already laid out by DAMA and would prevent a conflict.  The comments provide additional support for this notion and even provide insight into how to divide these two areas up. 

Note that I won’t be able to say that the terms are effectively interchangeable.  Rather that each one addresses a specific set of concerns for a particular stakeholder community. 

The one thing that I cannot answer: can a single individual rotate between two roles: an information architect and a data architect, wearing the appropriate “hat” for their stakeholders, with minimal additional training required?  I’m inclined to say “yes”.