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04/23/2011: "So is this going to be an Information Management blog or what?"

Music: Cuong Vu 4-tet

It's one of those "perfect" Seattle spring days where the sky is blue and it's 60 degrees so everyone is out doing something. Choosing to zag while everyone zigs, I am deep in the bowels of the Foster Library on the University of Washington campus trying to do some work on my final project for my Information Management (MSIM) degree. I happen to be on campus on a Saturday morning because my only class this quarter is "Capstone II," a class that is also doubling as a guest lecture series. This morning the speakers were Mala Sarat Chandra and Vanessa Fox.

Mala and Vanessa told the class about their career paths, gave great advice and tips and patiently answered our questions. I asked a question to them about how to get started as a writer and subject matter expert. Vanessa said (to paraphrase) to first start a blog, start speaking at smaller conferences, then move up to bigger conferences. Mala mentioned that I should find other like blogs, answer questions and start debates. The most important part, Vanessa said, and to which Mala agreed, was to know what I'm talking about.

After class was over, I talked with Vanessa and told her of my long-standing plan to start blogging about information management, but that I had been waiting until I had learned enough to be able to speak in an informed manner. Vanessa thought this was a good plan and challenged me to write a blog post today.

Luckily I didn't have to go create a blog, as I have one on the front page of an 11-year old website. was registered on 4/17/2000, and has had many purposes and many incarnations. Last August, I declared that it would be an information management blog but now I am finally getting around to making it one.

I am not an expert in information management yet, but what I am is someone who is almost finished getting my master's degree in this subject and about seven weeks away from graduating. I have a lot of interests and questions about this field and want to learn as much as I can. This blog will act as a document of my learning process as I become someone who "knows what I am talking about" on a variety of interesting information management-related subjects.

One of the key questions that I want to answer is "What is Information Management?" I get this all the time from friends, family and anyone else who asks me what I've been doing lately and I tell them that I'm in grad school. I like to say that it is a combination of information science, computer science and business, and that this allows me to act as translator between the organization and the "computer people." It is a pretty simplistic answer, but it gives me a jumping-off point to start talking about how organizations- from corporations to governments to non-profits- are all drowning in information, and that these skills allow me to find out what their needs are and to design information-based solutions for them.

At this point, people who turned their head sideways and looked at me funny when I said I was studying information management go "Oh, wow, we have this problem at work where..."

Information management is this brand new field that has sprung up in the past few years, and no one is exactly sure what it is or how to explain it to people, yet there is a huge need for it everywhere you look. I hope that this blog contributes on some level to the field of information management and evangelize how important and relevant it is. It is a pretty wide field, and I am working over in the taxonomy/content strategy/UX corner of it right now (and I plan to talk about that a lot as I start off), but there's a lot of other ground to cover. I also hope to talk about some of my concerns, bones to pick, suggestions, recommendations and generate some interesting and innovative solutions for them along the way.

Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think.

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