Wednesday, 7 March 2012
Wurman has devoted his life’s work to making information understandable. In the 1970s, he coined the term “information architect” in reaction to the disorderly way large amounts of information was collected and presented to the public. The world, he argued, needed new systems, structures, principles, and measurements to help make sense of the coming data deluge. He studied cartography and began mapping the world’s cities. He published dozens of books on dozens of subjects. Fortune magazine described him as an “intellectual hedonist”.
Perhaps Wurman is more of an intellectual flâneur. He believes in the power of individual discovery and says truth is often found in the connections between disparate ideas. In 1984, he started TED, a yearly confab for the digital elite that changed the way the world thinks about conferences. Wurman likes to say TED is an example of innovation through subtraction. “We took away men in suits. We took away boring speeches. And we gave people permission to be curious outside of their silo”, he says.