Out of ink? Already? When Farhad Manjoo's Brother printer abruptly stopped zipping out prints, he began to wonder if the printer wasn't simply lying that it was out of toner in order to trick him into buying more before he needed it. The prints hadn't been fading at all, but the printer simply refused to go on without a new cartridge. No fool, Manjoo turned to the web for a solution: He saved his 60 bucks and instead found a simple fix. By covering up a sensor on the side of the toner cartridge with a piece of electrical tape he tricked the printer into thinking the cartridge was full. Well, not so much trick as convince: Manjoo says his printer's been going strong ever since, eight months and hundred of pages down the road, pumping out perfect pages.
Theory often takes a back seat to practice in the field of web design—after all, it’s hard enough to keep up with the latest acronyms without trying to carve out time for navel gazing about the profession. As a result, innovation in the way we think about our creations has lagged behind the breakneck pace of change in the technologies we use to create them. Consider, for example, our craft’s foundational metaphor of “information architecture.” Since at least Richard Saul Wurman’s 1996 book Information Architects, architecture has been the primary metaphor for how “those who build websites” think about what we do. By adding a new metaphor to our theoretical toolboxes, we can gain a richer, more nuanced understanding of the way that we inhabit cyberspace. This enhanced apprehension of the medium should enable us to create websites that better serve our users.