Exploratory study of the literature of information architecture

By | November 25, 2022

I introduce the idea of Multi-sensory cognitive justice, and make a case for it through a synthesis of the literature available on information architecture. Given that I was standing there when the field was born as a professional occupation with its own association etc I think I can navigate my way back to the beginning of best practices.

Hirschheim, R. (1985). Information systems epistemology: An historical perspective. Research methods in information systems, 9, 13-35.

and so:

“It is my contention that IS epistemology draws heavily from the social sciences because information systems are, fundamentally, social rather than technical systems. Thus, the scientific paradigm adopted by the natural sciences is appropriate to information systems only insofar as it is appropriate for the social sciences. If one contends that the social sciences embrace an epistemology which is different from their natural science counterparts, then so too is the case for IS. I should like to argue in favor of such a contention. To do so requires a brief excursion into the history of social science epistemology” (Hirschheim, 1985).

It is my belief that we cannot “design for” the end-users of a loom for weaving knowledge systems in their own disciplines and work, but instead must create the conditions for the producers and users of knowledge to exchange contributions with each other, without frictions raised by boundaries and barriers. Let them create their own taxonomies; after all, it was users who created the hashtag for tagging content streams.

This is the only way to ensure cognitive justice for the diverse knowledges that have traditionally fallen outside the purview of the scientific paradigm.


“Epistemology refers to our theory of knowledge; in particular, how we acquire knowledge. There are two basic points which need to be looked at: (l) what is knowledge, and (2) how do we obtain “valid” knowledge. Let me address each in turn” (Hirschheim, 1985).

leading to knowledge exchange as a social process where retrieval and discovery rely on social conventions and customary rules of organization:

“Knowledge is therefore not infallible but conditional—it is a societal convention and is relative to both time and place. Knowledge is a matter of societal (or group) acceptance” (Hirschheim, 1985).

This in turn implies a human centered s0cial design project can be conceptualized in order to build a working prototype.

Why must we ensure we transgress disciplinary boundaries?

Adler, M., & Harper, L. M. (2018). Race and ethnicity in classification systems: Teaching knowledge organization from a social justice perspective. Library Trends, 67(1), 52-73.
from which

“Literature from the subfield of knowledge organization (KO) in library and information studies (LIS) tends to remain outside of some of the wider conversations about race and ethnicity in libraries, and discussions regarding teaching diversity and social justice generally focus on public service and workplace issues within LIS” (Adler & Harper, 2018).

thus it can be said that

“In other cultures, alternative forms of inquiry are considered appropriate, for example, meditation, consulting an oracle, etc. We might consider this form of knowledge acquisition “unscientific” because it does not match our conception of science. But since science is simply the process by which an understanding is obtained, we cannot necessarily dismiss these attempts as unscientific because our culture is different from others. If a particular process is widely considered appropriate, then that is science. According to Snyder (1978), “science is something that people do. It is not a particular set of assertions or theories, but a set of activities that may or may not produce organized theories.” (Adler & Harper, 2018)

Cognitive justice, as conceptualized by Shiv Visvanathan, 2021, asserts the rights of multiple understandings to co-exist so long as they sustain the lives and livelihoods and well being of life forms on earth. If understanding the land’s health can be transmitted by feeling the earth between one’s fingers, is this not a case for the need for multi-sensory cognitive justice?


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