December 8, 2002

Secret Gardens, Really

William Slawski read my note about Secret Gardens and went hunting secret gardens in the real world -- the built environment. He finds a mermaid in the back of his neighborhood skateboard shop.

A great way to put the architecture back into Information Architecture is to look for complex structure -- especially rhetorical structure -- in buildings and cities. There's a danger of being overly literal here: three-space is not linkspace. Still, it's easy to find useful examples that have unexpected counterparts.

Slawski's mermaid is one of those examples. It's decoration; it doesn't hold up the roof, nor does it make transactions more efficient. It's not conspicuous; Slawski says you have to look for it. Decorations like the mermaid are common: drive down a street in Levittown, or walk down any dorm corridor, and you'll see all sorts of decoration. Before we finish declaring non-conforming Web sites to be wicked, it might be a good idea to understand this.