It's probably healthy to discuss these things in public. I think some of the tone of the debate was concerning, though. And I'll admit I went to the sessions that were likely to prompt debate. Once a journalist, always a journalist -- I felt compelled to follow the story, and this was the story of this IA Summit.
Whether we call ourselves IAs or something else, many of us started in this career by categorizing and defining things. But our nebulous-by-nature career doesn't fit well into any one bucket.
We may never define IA. This debate is not going to change the fact that some of us are innies, and some of us are outies; some of us are agile, and some of us are waterfall; some of us need heavy documentation, and some of us can do light documentation; some of us have huge business constraints, and some of us have lots of freedom.
Everyone's reality is a little different. Eric Reiss put it best in his "House Divided" session: The true definition of IA is whatever you do.
In many ways my day-to-day responsibilities might better fall under the definition of interaction design or user experience design. But it doesn't bother me to be called an information architect, and when people outside of the industry ask me what I do, I tell them I help make the web site easier to use. I think any of the job titles you hear bandied about for what we do can be boiled down to that description.
All of the fuzzy-bounded disciplines, and their knowledge sources and conferences, are places to meet cool, smart people, and learn things that help me become better at my job. I think that's why most people go to the IA Summit. Those of us who go for those reasons, I think, could happily find ourselves at a 20th IA Summit, still getting the same benefits.
Hopefully by then the debate will have progressed.
The sessions themselvesI had a chance to see some really good sessions, and some of the best stayed completely above the whole IA debate. Some of my favorites: