Rub-a-dub-TUB (part one): Pot bellies, bathtubs and the birth of “information architecture”
Last month I flew out to San Francisco to attend the TUB 20-year reunion. What is TUB, you ask? I spent a lot of time answering this question before and after the event.
TUB stands for The Understanding Business. A clever name coined for a design firm/guidebook publisher in the business of “making information understandable.”
Understand? No, you’re not alone. Ironically, those of us who worked there spent years trying to explain the name.
“It is a peculiar word because it has the word ‘under’ and ‘standing’ in it: what does that mean? How did that happen? ‘Under’ is a negative term, and ‘standing’, which is a different thing, those two words together create a word of such warmth. I named a company ‘The Understanding Business’; the initials are TUB. This has two meanings: the fact that I have a big pot belly and because Archimedes was in a bathtub when he said, ‘Eureka, I understand!’ For me, it is all about understanding.”
Try explaining that at a cocktail party.
Wurman coined the term “information architecture” more than 30 years ago. Now “information design” is a more accurate description of the work we did at TUB.
All kidding aside, TUB helped shape me as a writer and editor and content developer in important ways. Plus I made some amazing friends. Why else would I fly 3,000 miles for an office reunion?
Read Wurman’s full interview here: