Week 7: Lecture

Short review of Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message,” which is relevant for our ecology article this week.
Full lecture on McLuhan for those students who are unfamiliar with his concepts or want a refresher.
  • Beginning of Class Writing
    • Click on the heading of this blog post title above–“Week 7: Lecture,” scroll down to the comment area, and write at least 250 words in response to this week’s readings. You can summarize the readings, you can relate the readings to your own experience or something else you have read or learned about, etc. Any writing of 250 words or more that are related to the readings are fair game for this weekly assignment at the beginning of class.
    • Post your comment after 20 minutes even if you don’t reach the 250 word minimum threshold.
    • Why we are doing this: It helps you organize your thoughts before discussion and it gives you regular writing practice.
  • Discuss this week’s readings.
  • Setup Github accounts and create a rudimentary web page.
    • See here for an example of what we’re aiming for in this exercise.
    • Create account at github.com–make sure you think hard about your username–it should be professional and reflect positively on you.
    • Follow these directions to create web space for HTML pages on GitHub Pages.
  • Review homework and readings for next week.

9 thoughts on “Week 7: Lecture”

  1. TO: Prof. Ellis

    FROM: Khemraj Persaud

    DATE: 3/20/23

    SUBJECT: Weekly Reading Assignment

    In the first reading, “A Conversation with Eric Reiss, Author of Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better,” Thom Haller from the Bulletin of American Society for Information Science and Technology interviews Eric Reiss about his new book, as well as the contributions that he has made to information architecture. He breaks down usability into two categories, “ease of use” and “elegance and clarity.” He lists ease of use physical aspects as follows:

    ·       Functionality

    ·       Responsiveness

    ·       Ergonomics

    ·       Convenience

    ·       Foolproofing

    He also discusses the psychological aspects of elegance and clarity:

    ·       Visibility

    ·       Understandability

    ·       Logic

    ·       Consistence

    ·       Predictability

    In the second reading, “Making the Most of Interactivity Online Version 2.0: Technical Communication as Procedural Architecture” by Rudy McDaniel, the author goes into detail about how interactivity has evolved with the ever-changing landscape of the internet. He specifically discusses how this interactivity affects online authors and developers. He goes on to provide metaphors for how procedural architecture should be handled when writing for strongly interactive technical documents. This includes gaming environments and how users interact with gameplay and narrative.

    The final reading for this week, entitled “Mediation as Message, Design and the Media Ecology of Information” by David Walczyk & Cedomir Kovacev, dives into the work of Marshall MuLuhan and his aphorism “The Medium is the Message.” They touch on several concepts of information architecture and interaction design as it pertains to the principles and practices of media ecology, and how they have evolved over time. One thing that stuck out to me about this writing was how they mention that McLuhan died before he could see how they truly digital age has developed and how the use of electronic media has influenced the content it shares.

  2. As we continue the evolution from print culture to a different one but one which is inclusive of it a new model had to evolve. New methods irrespective of the SPACE where they occur.

    Mediation as Message

    Marshall McLuhan: “The Media is the Message” still holds true today. 

    Media Ecology: The integrity of media ecology is a writing style. A media ecology is an environment created by media. The interaction between media and the content within the environment.

    Interactivity is a critical component of the information experience. Interaction designers are concerned with the behavior tasks that users experience or encounter in software and info systems at the interface level. The site’s interaction design is very important:

    1) Organization systems

    2) Navigation Systems

    3) Search systems

    4) Labeling systems

    Vince Cyboran in 1995 defines interactivity as a “process in which the learner and the system alternate in addressing each other”.

  3. Week seven’s readings were based on the characteristics and functions of media. Media is any technology with purpose that grows a viewer interaction from an environment. Environments play a role in the effects of media. Depending on an individual’s environment, their perspective and outlook of the media will visually approach viewers in different ways. 

    In Haller’s reading, a pioneer of Information Architecture named Eric Reiss lists the benefits of usability. Viewer usability requires the media to be functional, responsive, ergonomic, convenient, and foolproof. When it comes down to Information Architecture, categorizing and organizing information is key. The ability to maintain information order is reflected on Information Architects. 

    In reading two, McDaniel states how interactivity in technical communications is complex. In order to fulfill technical communication, one must organize information with visibility and predictability,. The information must be understandable to the viewers eyes and consistent, so that the rules don’t change. Once all the rules are set, interactivity between media users will converse smoothly and will be less complex. Technical communication is such a valued culture. 

    Reading number three provides information about why media is the message. Media revolves around new ideas and spontaneous information. Information Architects leaves room for new methods and new perceptions. They create a human-centered environment framework for viewers to understand. A quote from McLuhan in 1972 states, “The future is not what it used to be.” The future McLuhan emphasizes is a future filled with technology and technical information. The future will becomes computerized and will slowly wipe out human-centered communication.  

  4. To: Professor Ellis

    From: Tiana Beatty

    Date: 03.20.2023

    Subject: Weekly Readings

    I found this week’s readings to be insight and provided in-depth information about the roles and responsibilities that usability, procedural literacy, and audience play in dealing with information architecture and technical communication. These three components are all important and reading these three articles and journals provide that.

    A Conversation with Eric Reiss

    This was informative because it was an interview from an actual information architect. It was explained and presented in a way that was both readable and filled with simpler explanations. The questions asked by the interviewer were good questions and weren’t too complicated for the interviewee to answer. It seemed like Eric Reiss has a lot of experience when it comes to doing information architecture. It was interesting to read how adaptable Eric Reiss was to creating usability for the client he mentioned. It was a simple breakdown that I think should be used when creating and dealing with information architecture because at the end of the day, it’s all about the client or users.

    Technical Communication as Procedural Architecture

    This was a longer article with lots of information, but the key takeaway that I got from this is that usability, technological systems or media systems, and understanding audience are the important features with technical communication and procedural literacy. There is more computer science involved than I thought with technical communication instead of the basic mechanics of knowing and posting the content to share with users. That there are rules that need to be followed in order to achieve the goal of allowing users to see the content and how easy it will be the access and understand the content.

    Mediation as Message

    I didn’t get to finish the article because of time, but it seems like this article is mostly about Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message.” From what I know about this is that it’s not about the content that is presented to an audience, but rather the artifact that it’s being presented on (I.e. newspaper and TV). Media plays and important role in today’s society and especially technical communication as technical communicators are posting and presenting information whether it be on sites and other forms of media. But more importantly, it’s about how we as humans are using these media systems and the information we see. I think it’s important because there is a vast amount of information and to share it, there needs to be system that can hold it all.

  5. In A conversation with Eric Reiss, author of usable usability: Simple steps for making stuff better, Thom Haller recounts an interview he had with Eric Reiss, author of “Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better,” about Reiss’s perspective on usability. Reiss stresses the importance of focusing on the user needs when designing products and suggests involving users in the design process through testing and feedback.


    Making the Most of Interactivity Online Version 2.0: Technical Communication as Procedural Architecture, discusses the role of interactivity in online technical communication and how it can be utilized to improve the user experience. McDaniel argues that interactivity is a form of procedural architecture and technical communication should adapt some principles of procedural architecture. Procedural architecture is a style of architectural design that utilizes interactive elements to guide users. Some principles of procedural architecture are modularity, user-centered design, scalability, and generativity. I believe technical communication would benefit from incorporating procedural architecture principles. By incorporating procedural architecture principles into technical communication, communicators will create more user-friendly systems.


    In Mediation as Message – Design and the Media Ecology of Information, David Walczyk and Cedomir Kovacev explore the relationship between design and the media ecology of information. The media ecology of information refers to the way technology influence each other in the design, use, and experience of information systems. Walczyk and Kovacey argue that media ecology of information shapes the way that users understand and interpret information, and that designers must be mindful to the these borders to produce effective designs.


  6. TO: Prof. Ellis 

    FROM: Khaled Akam 

    DATE: March 20, 2023 

    SUBJECT: Usability, interactivity, and media ecology

    Eric Reiss talks about how he has explored usability in information architecture. Usability being broken down and dedicated to ease of use and the elegance/clarity. This all started when making an introduction to usability and soon took off when he realized just how the structure worked. Usability had a physical and psychological side that was broken down into profound categories. For example, how it functions compared to what you actually get.

    Flaws in human-computer interaction (HCI), usability models, and interaction design (IxD) concerns information architectures, thus, we need to understand them to stop it from happening in the future. Media ecology is what we may study to increase our chances of combating these flaws. Researching is part of media ecology because finding these flaws opens new opportunities to carve your own design. Trying to make the most of the information that is offered from investigating interactions we find. These recently new theories are giving us a better understanding of different disciplines that tie into information architecture.

    Interactivity is the communication between a person and a computer. Interactivity in technical communication is extremely complicated in that it must do multiple things. It’s an important part of the online environment that took off from 1980s into the early 2000s. Connecting with information is much like bridges that navigate our understanding to maximize efficiency in the variety of interactivity. Communication is what we need to develop more when it comes to every aspect

  7. To: Professor Ellis

    From: Sandy Fougeres

    Date: 3/20/23

    Subject: Weekly Readings


    This week’s readings were about Eric Reiss, one of the pioneers of information architecture, breaking down the topic of usability in the field of information architecture. In Reiss’ book, Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better, he talks about the key topics that he focuses on when creating for IA and how to use those key topics for a better usability experience. The key terms highlighted during this interview with Eric Reiss regarding usability, is ease of use and elegance and clarity. He states that both are important to think about when thinking about how users would receive the information and how they would navigate it. An example would be for ease of use; how information architects should focus on how it functions, the responsiveness, if its ergonomic and convenient, and foolproof. As for elegance and clarity he says to focus on visibility, if its understandable and logical, consistency, and predictability. I thought this article was informative and helpful because those are easy to understand key terms to think of when designing within IA. This is information that will be useful to me in the future.

    The second reading discussed technical communication and user interactivity. It talked about the importance of interactivity while creating online environments for users to access information, and how technical communication and digital media is intertwined. What I found interesting about this article is that it talked about incorporating user interactivity within technical communication, but that it can be complex due to the fact that by doing so you could be relinquishing some amount of control over authorship, readership, and document presentation. I’m curious to know if your relinquishing all those things because the team expands from the writing department to the new media/tech department.


  8. To: Prof. Ellis

    From: Bria Glenn

    Date: March 20, 2023

    Subject: Week 7

    In all three readings, they talk about information architecture in some way. Most likely, the main idea always goes back to IA. In the first article, Eric Reiss speaks on the book he wrote and how it’s based on the idea of usability. When I think of usability, this means anyone should be able to use a certain computer system or design tools without being extremely proficient in it. By breaking it up into two sides or the “usability coin”. Reiss was able to further explain both the physical and psychological aspects of something which contributes to the overall product an making sure it’s visible, logical, convenient and foolproof. As a college student, I am able to use computer systems such as Adobe Audition because its usability is geared towards being simplistic whiled delivering the quality. He is essentially giving us a recipe to a reliable product. Eric Reiss’ point in this article is to inform us of usability issues, where they are, how an information architect would look at something and possibly find ways to improve it.

    “Making the Most of Interactivity Online” by Rose McDaniel, she writes about interactivity. It takes time and skill to produce technology that does exactly what you want it to do. She makes the claim that within technical communication, interactivity is a main component in the functionality of online services. Within new media, interactivity has reached new heights from where it’s come from. Interactivity can be defined as the process of the exchanging of information between two entities. When it comes to online systems, designers can see things that other users may not see when accessing them. With the development of Web2.0 comes other computer systems that were to be use online. With this, McDaniel lays out five guidelines for interactive technical communication which more so provides suggestions on possibly creating a system. His article focuses more on the entirety of technical communication rather than information architecture, and the author makes it clear that with the advancement of technology and new media, interactivity is very much still important and has not lost its relevancy in the past 8 years. Along with technical communication, communicators can incorporate IA and experience design to produce technology with effective interactivity.


  9. Eric Reiss is a contributor to Information Architecture and was interviewed about the two angles he explains usability with – “ease of use” and “elegance and clarity”. In the two pages assigned the beginning of his interest in usability began at a 3 years old from redesigning a rocking horse. In the interview he mentioned that it started with writing a one hour speech on introduction on usability and he was able to come with two subject divisions. He truthfully admits that it is not good enough to make someone a professional but enough to be productive. 

    Both angles had five subdivisions: 

    Ease of use: functional (working), responsive (both ends are working), ergonomics (easily usable, convenient (finable), foolproof (design helps avoid mistakes/breaking stuff). 

    Elegance and clarity: visible (seeing), understandable (know what you are seeing and how it works), logical (makes sense), consistent (remains the same), predictable (foreseeable outcome). 

    I like how he uses a daily item that we use to describe how usability plays a role in our lives. A can opener and how a passport works are two examples he used. 

    The second article McDaniels explains how to make the most of interactivity online. Interactiveness relates to how the user uses the interface. It should be in accordance with not only the content but user experience. 

    In the third article Walczyk and Kovacev discuss “Meditation as Message” which stems from Human-computer interaction (HCI) and information architecture (IA) usability. Media Ecology is in reference to how the technology works in relation to those who use it. An expression or aphorism by McLuhan was “The medium is the message.” It is when the medium uses the information it has and provides content consisting that the medium has but it also considers the experience of the user. “Meditation as Message” is an aphorism by McLuhan describing how interfaces and interaction build an analog to a digital bridge.

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