A Reading List Courtesy of This Year’s IA Summit

Wow. Although this year’s IA Summit was my first, it certainly won’t be my last! Each and every presentation I attended was filled with a wealth of takeaways, from practical advice to food for thought. In absence of a full recap post, I’d like to share five books added my Amazon wishlist during the event.

For context’s sake, here are the sessions I attended that informed my reading list:

These are just a subset of the total sessions comprising the conference, of course. For a full list, check the schedule page for the conference.

Books mentioned during the summit

While attending the aforemention session I came up with the following list:

Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension

The Embodied Cognition theory suggests that sensemaking is as much an external process as it is an internal one. In other words, technologies with which we interact change how we think about the world. Andrew Hinton suggests that this has significant implications on the work we do as information architects.

Cognition in the Wild by Edwin Hutchins

As a compliment to Supersizing the Mind, Edwin Hutchins’s Cognition in the Wild reminds us that our understanding of the world is also cultural. This idea touches on some of the educational concepts that Bill Gribbons mentioned to me last month, so it was a natural addition to the list.

The Empty Space: A Book About the Theatre: Deadly, Holy, Rough, Immediate by Peter Brook

Traci Lepore’s presentation explained how perspectives that function in the world of theatre can also lend themselves to the management of user-centered design projects. Although this book framed the majority of her talk, Tracy also mentioned method acting, which has me thinking about its applications to our practice, as well.

The Connected Company by Dave Gray and Thomas Vander Wal

Ah, governance. It’s a topic that’s as puzzling to me as it is important to the continued success of any design endeavor. Peter Morville and Lisa Welchman referenced this book as they explained how “loosely connected pods” are the key to a good governance plan. From what I understand, this approach informs Amazon’s corporate structure.

Content Strategy For Mobile by Karen Mcgrane

This one’s high on my list. In her closing plenary, Karen McGrane explained how radically different tomorrow’s content problems will be. When working with The New York Times, Karen recounted how digital publishing used to be relegated to a separate office. Today, it’s given equal footing with the print side of things. And tomorrow? Let’s just say we’ve got our work cut out for us.


I find it quite likely that some of you who read UX Booth attended the Summit. What books caught your eye? Are you currently reading anything that informed your understanding of this year’s talks?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. While “Supersizing the Mind” and “Cognition in the Wild” are excellent books, they are also deep academic books about philosophy and cognitive science. Great books, difficult reads, and in a completely different category than the other books mentioned.

  2. Who mentioned CitW in their talk?

  3. Andrew, thanks for publishing this list. In the intro you mentioned 10 books, but the list only has 5. Will you be posting the others?

    • Ah! Good catch. I can certainly add to the list :) I ended up narrowing it down to the five I plan to read first. Perhaps I just share my amazon wishlist outright?

  4. Hey Dorian, I’ll have to look back. I added to my list during the conference :)

    • Hey Andrew,

      I know it came up during the Reframe workshop. Was just wondering if it was mentioned in any sessions I missed.

  5. Marsha Haverty April 9, 2013

    The Art of Scientific Investigation, William I.B. Beveridge
    [mentioned in Fringe IA talk]


    Notes on the Synthesis of Form, Christopher Alexander
    [mentioned in Unified Theory of IA]


  6. Thank you so much for publishing this list. There were a couple of sessions on here I missed, so I appreciate the SlideShare links along with the reading list.

  7. Traci Lepore April 11, 2013

    And if you want more about method acting there is stanislavski’s the actor prepares http://www.amazon.com/Actor-Prepares-Constantin-Stanislavski/dp/0878309837

  8. Joel Tachau April 11, 2013

    Here are books I gleaned from my notes (so far):
    Brown, D., Designing Together, http://www.designingtogetherbook.com (coming in June)
    Brown, D., Surviving Design Projects Card Game
    Clark, A., Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension (Philosophy of Mind)
    Drucker, P., Adventures of a Bystander
    Gitomer, J., Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Teal Book of Trust: How to Earn It, Grow It, and Keep It to Become a Trusted Advisor in Sales, Business and Life
    Gothelf, J., Lean UX
    Hartson, R & Pyla P., The UX Book: Process and guidelines for ensuring a quality user experience
    Kagan, M., Inspired
    Ohno, T., Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production
    Reis, A., The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
    Resmini, A. & Rosati, L., Pervasive Information Architecture
    Schwartz, B., The Paradox of Choice
    Speakerman, E., Stop Stealing Sheep
    Waring, S., Taylorism Transformed: Scientific Management Theory since 1945

  9. Joel, You & I must have been in a lot of the same sessions. A couple more on my list:

    - It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be
    - Power of Habit
    - Art of Woo

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