A Wiser Interaction

Written by: Chris Baum

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banda_headphones_sm.gif Chris Baum speaks with Bill DeRouchey, co-chair for the 2010 Interaction Design Conference, about the upcoming conference and how the third annual conference will start to model the essence of Interaction Design.

Looking Back
Bill talks about the first two years of the conference, the lessons learned from those experiences, and why Interaction ’10 returns to Savannah.

A Brand New Program
For 2010, the program is quite different. Bill explains the new approaches, in particular “Discussions” and “Activities,” and why they are changing things up. He also covers the “Documentary” and “Art Exhibition,” two new Interactions-related events.

Submitting for Interaction 10
Interested in submitting session proposals for Interaction10? “Submissions are open”:http://interaction.ixda.org/submissions.php until September 15.

Documentary and Art submissions are open until November 1.

IxD S.W.A.T. Team
Along with Bill and Jennifer Bove, his co-chair, the conference team includes several well-known designers. Bill explains how each is bringing her/his talent to the conference preparations.

IxD in a Physical Environment
Flow of people in a hotel is relatively easy. In Savannah, however, Interaction spans several buildings. Bill describes how that will affect the design of the conference proper.

Sponsors
Interaction 10 will also introduce some new sponsorship programs. Bill explains what this means and how that helps both sponsors and conference attendees.

Test & Iterate
The conversation closes with more reflection on what the IxDA has learned from the first two years of the conference, and how 2010 will reflects what has come before.

For more information, visit “interaction.ixda.org”:http://interaction.ixda.org/.

IDEA 2009: An Interview with Thomas Malaby

Written by: Russ Unger

As IDEA 2009 draws closer, the IA Institute is conducting a series of interviews with the speakers for the conference. As Director of Events and Marketing for the IAI, I fill a variety of roles and lead the charge for the IDEA Conference this year, as well as get to Interview the IDEA Presenters (which I proudly share with Greg Corrin in this case).

For this interview, I was able to ask a few questions with Thomas Malaby. Malaby is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has a forthcoming book titled "Making Virtual Worlds: Linden Lab and Second Life" from Cornell University Press.

You recently finished a book about Second Life and online communities titled “Making Virtual Worlds” (Cornell University Press). Can you describe how your research process was structured for this writing effort? How does one conduct ethnographic research in online communities effectively?

The rise of digital technologies poses many challenges and opportunities for ethnographic research. Because this project centered on the makers of Second Life, Linden Lab in San Francisco, to a certain extent the familiar form of face-to-face ethnographic participant observation and interviewing was possible. But nonetheless even within the company an enormous amount of communication occurred through technologically mediated channels, including multiple email lists, wikis, an IRC channel, instant messaging, plus all of the tools for communication found within Second Life itself, wherein a great deal of Linden employees’ work was done.

What are some of your key research findings about Second Life? How is this community progressing from a sociological perspective?

My primary finding concerned the way in which the ostensibly “user-generated” world of Second Life was nonetheless shaped so deeply by the values and expectations that the makers at Linden Lab inscribed into it. What emerges is that while we may be tempted to think of the communities (and there are many) within Second Life as existing in a somewhat “natural” state, free to develop as they wish, in fact all users of Second Life are always already acting within an environment that makes assumptions about what kind of people they are. The inscription of property rights into the world is only the most obvious example of the ineradicable ideological assumptions that are part of SL.

Do you have any advice for professional or other organizations as to how they could use Second Life to help foster increased activity amongst their members?

Second Life’s advantage is the wide bandwidth for nuanced social action that it provides. That is, moving about as avatars within the environment broadens the scope for meaningful expression in ways that can form the foundation for powerful applications. From my point of view, the most promising of these are educational and therapeutic — uses that leverage the real human connections possible in an environment that allows people to express themselves so broadly.

Did you find in your research that Second Life is evolving in a unique way compared to other communities?

Certainly, but in a sense any given community changes historically in a unique fashion. We are always tempted to find some common sequence or pattern to how societies change, but overwhelmingly the evidence that anthropology and related fields have found about all communities is that they change historically, in contingent ways. There are some patterns we can observe that hold across some if not all cases, but no universal path. This is a facet of all change (even evolutionary change) that Charles Darwin deeply appreciated, but it is often forgotten in our desire to have universal answers.

Do you care to make a prediction on the future of online communities? Will Second Life shape any primarily online social world going forward, or are other systems innovating in other more interesting ways?

I think Second Life already has. Metaplace, the new virtual world by famous game designer Raph Koster, owes an enormous amount to Second Life in its conception of what users want (ideas that more deeply connect with longstanding assumptions about people, authority, and technology in postwar-U.S., especially the Bay Area).

Do you spend much time actively participating in communities online or are you always wearing a researching hat? If so, in which communities do you spend your leisure time?

I spend a great deal of time in virtual worlds, and almost all of it is in World of Warcraft, where I lead a guild of academics and their friends and family.

There are many different online and mobile applications that allow people to find new methods of connecting with very little overhead.  How do you think SecondLife can compete—or work in conjunction—with these?

With any networked technology (really, any technology) we must always be mindful of the specific experience of using it and the affordances it brings. There are things that Second Life and similar worlds are good at that mobile apps could never hope to achieve, and it is the same in the other direction. We don’t need killer apps, we need killer uses– and those are far harder to anticipate and encourage through design.

 —

About Thomas Malaby

Thomas Malaby is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has published numerous works on virtual worlds, games, practice theory, and indeterminacy. His principal research interest is in the relationships among institutions, unpredictability, and technology, particularly as they are realized through games and game-like processes.

You can learn more about Thomas on the Speakers Page and the Program Page of the IDEA Conference website.

About IDEA (Information Design Experience Access) 2009: Social Experience Design

IDEA2009 brings together the world’s foremost thinkers and practitioners: sharing the big ideas that inspire, along with practical solutions for the ways people’s lives and systems are converging to affect society.

These days, you can’t be socially engaging without considering the experience design. IDEA2009 brings together like-minded people who want to continue the exploration of Social Experience Design.

IDEA 2009: An Interview with Leisa Reichelt

Written by: Russ Unger

As IDEA 2009 draws closer, the IA Institute is conducting a series of interviews with the speakers for the conference. As Director of Events and Marketing for the IAI, I fill a variety of roles and lead the charge for the IDEA Conference this year, as well as get to Interview the IDEA Presenters (which I proudly share with Greg Corrin in this case).

For this interview, I was able to ask a few questions with Leisa Reichelt. If her name is not familiar to you, it’s possible you’ve heard of the term "ambient intimacy" that she coined (and frankly, is quite too often NOT cited as the source for that).  You can learn more about Leisa online at disambiguity where she blogs. You can also be on the lookout for Drupal 7; I hear she had a thing or to do with that…

Where do you go and what do you do to recharge, find inspiration, or renew your creativity?

I think the most guaranteed way to get myself into an inspired and creative state is to spend a few hours in an art museum – I particularly love being so close to the Tate Modern in London, but just remembering visits I’ve made to the Pompidou, the Guggenheim in NYC & Venice (I am a complete sucker for the Modernists) and I can almost feel my mind open up and think about what the future could be like and all the different ways to approach communicating what we’re thinking and feeling and believing.

At the completely other end of the scale, I also draw a huge amount of inspiration from my Twitter network and the tiny little nuggets of ideas, ourselves, and what we make of our world. I’ve also recently taken up crochet as a way to try to switch myself off for an hour or so in the evening – it is kind of like my equivalent to meditation, I guess.

And the other thing I find really valuable is to travel and spend time in different parts of the world. It is so easy to think that there is only one way of living, of seeing the world, and the best possible antidote to that is travel – I think that it is incredibly important as a designer to remind myself that ‘my way’ is just one of very many, and it is alarming how quickly we can forget this if we continue to surround ourselves with everything that is familiar.

As a parent, I often find myself “accidentally” teaching categorization and sorting to my kids. As a parent, do you ever find yourself trying to teach some tricks of the trade to your child?

Ha ha! No, not yet. I’m just trying to get him to put everything into one container at the moment (my boy is 18 months old and resisting the concept of ‘cleaning up’).

At this point it is all about him teaching me, actually. I have an iPhone that he has been using for a few months now, initially just as a music player for his nursery rhymes when we were in the car, but now he has several programs on the phone that are there specifically for him (Koi Pond, Bubbles and Peekaboo Barn for parents with iPhones – I recommend them!) I am constantly astounded at how skilled he is at interacting with my iPhone – not only for the applications that are designed for someone like him, but he can actually find the application on the phone, launch it, hit ‘Start’ (not settings) – I think it’s amazing and it makes me think a lot about what the world will be like for him, where these kinds of interactions will be a part of every moment of the life that he can remember. It’s exciting!

Drupal is many things; in addition to being a content management system it can be used for social networking and community organizing—how are you and the Drupal community working to make it better at supporting social interactions and experiences?

For the Drupal 7 release, the main thing that we’re trying to do is to make the Drupal platform and the wide range of tools that it makes available for social interaction and community building online more widely accessible to non-developers. At the moment, it can be a pretty daunting experience for someone who is new to Drupal or who doesn’t have a developer background and we’re trying to improve that experience by developing a system wide design that is more focussed on the ‘content creator’ role than it has been in the past. We’re not specifically aiming to make it better at supporting social interactions & experiences, but I do hope that is one of the outcomes of the work we do.

As a designer for a prominent open source community project, what have you found to be the keys to success in working with open source developers, specifically on the usability and experience fronts?

Ah, I’m not sure that we have yet found the keys to success – it is a big journey for everyone involved. Some things that have worked well though has been to clearly articulate some goals and/or principles for the project that can be easily repeated by the community throughout the project (for example, some of ours are to ‘focus on the content creator’, the ‘design for the 80% rule’, and the ‘use smart defaults’ rules) – defining these early on really helps people understand the direction you’re heading in, and then later on, helps you to explain why you’re suggesting approaches that may be unexpected.

Sharing the way that we work, I think, has also been very useful – we (Mark Boulton & I) really wanted to avoid any sense of design ‘mystique’ and to really show what designers do, how we work, the processes and methods we use. I think this does two good things – it helps people understand why designs are they way that they are, but it also makes design and designers more approachable and understandable, and perhaps even encourages some people to start integrating some of our practices into their own way of working. For example, I know that since we did the ‘crowdsourced usability testing’ and really made the process of doing a short usability test really transparent, there are some developers in the community who now actually do some observational research as a part of their practice now, which I think is beyond excellent.

We’ve also had to learn to shape the way that we work to suit the community a little – we need to be ready to explain, in detail and often, the rationale behind almost every pixel on a page. This is pretty heavy going at times, and not really a great way to get design implemented, but it really has made sure that we’ve really thought through why things are designed the way they are – it makes for a very thoughtful process.

I know many of my friends who are developers are excited—and possibly a bit nervous about the next version of Drupal being released. How do you think members of the UX community will receive it?

Oh gosh, I don’t know. I’m nervous too!

Anyone who has been following the process on D7UX.org should know what to expect because we’ve been posting screenshots of the work for months and the overall principles of the design of the next version have been out on the table since about April this year. I really believe that the user experience of Drupal 7 will be a significant step forward, and will make the experience of using Drupal for content creators and ‘clients’ of Drupal developers much, much better.

Having said that, there is a lot that we would have liked to have done to make Drupal 7 a truly game-changing release that we weren’t able to get over the bar. We had really hoped that with Drupal 7 non-developers would be able to build a site of reasonable sophistication that looked good within 30 mins of installing Drupal, and I don’t believe we’re going to achieve that goal this time around. I’m pretty proud of what we’ve achieved, though, considering the speed at which we’ve had to work and the complexities associated with the project – I hope it sets a good benchmark for what can be achieved when designing with a community.

You are currently in the UK, but have worked in Australia and on multi-national projects in the past. How important is local knowledge and understanding of cultural nuance in the design of social interactions online?

This is such a tough question and I go back and forth on it all the time. In some ways it is incredibly important and in other ways it is amazing how unimportant it is. I think it depends a lot on what you’re socialising around.

I think that if you are designing anything for cultures that you’re not native to – whether that be another country or an existing community – you really need to try to immerse yourself in that culture and to make sure that you’ve got a lot of great access to natives of that culture to help you make good decisions and avoid dumb oversights.

Having said that, I also think that we have much more in common, universally, and that there is a lot to be said for focussing on that.

Language is the real kicker though. I quite often have other English speakers (in the UK and US) look at me as though I’m speaking a foreign language and I realise that I’ve inadvertently slipped into speaking ‘Australia’ – I can’t even tell what is ‘Australian’ and what is not because I always thought I was just speaking ‘English’ – what a myth that is! (I’m also waiting to see if you’re going to change all my s’s into z’s when this is published!)

So many of the times that I’ve witnessed disagreements and hostility arise in an online community, the culprit has been language – mostly because so many of the important discussions are held in English only, and people are forced to engage using a non-native language – sometimes things come across entirely differently to how they are intended because the original intent gets lost in translation. Assuming best intent is such an old guideline but one of the most important and one that I’ve clung to over the past 12 months or so!

Do you think online communities culturally assimilated by virtue of the medium or still strongly affected by state and regional norms of culture and behavior?

This is a great question and I had to ask my Twitter network what we seemed to agree on.

1. see above re: language (see, I told you it’s the real kicker!) – language is the most likely reason for us to cluster online in a geographically influenced way which creates an environment where state and regional norms are likely to prevail, however; 2. it’s an ongoing negotiation and changes over time and is different from network to network (Anthony Gedden’s work on the Theory of Structuration is worth checking out if this is an area you’re interested in)

My experience has been that the more mature, geographically diverse and subject focussed the online community, the more likely they are to have a culture and behaviour that is unique to itself and to the more general ‘medium’ of ‘online community’ than it is to the norms of the individual participants ‘offline’ cultures. It is a constantly shifting environment though and endlessly subject to change both as the number and characteristics of its constituents varies, and also as particular behaviours are imposed onto the community (I’m thinking of how communications have to change in order to include participants who don’t read code, for example – one of the shifts that the Drupal community has been making in recent times).

 —

About Leisa Reichelt

Leisa Reichelt is a freelance design researcher & user experience designer who has worked with global brands, innovative startups and open source communities to help them deliver great online experiences for their customers and community members.

You can learn more about Leisa on the Speakers Page and the Program Page of the IDEA Conference website.

About IDEA (Information Design Experience Access) 2009: Social Experience Design

IDEA2009 brings together the world’s foremost thinkers and practitioners: sharing the big ideas that inspire, along with practical solutions for the ways people’s lives and systems are converging to affect society.

These days, you can’t be socially engaging without considering the experience design. IDEA2009 brings together like-minded people who want to continue the exploration of Social Experience Design.

Interaction 09 Follow-up

Written by: Whitney Hess

From February 5-8, 2009, IxDA hosted their second annual conference, Interaction 09, in Vancouver, BC. Last year’s inaugural conference in Savannah had a powerful and lasting impact on the community, filled with encouraging messages and the realization that for many of us that we had “found our tribe.” The challenge for 2009 was to see if that energy could be recaptured a year later — in a new place and during undeniably pressing times.

The Setting

The Four Seasons in Vancouver felt much less intimate than the refuge and privacy we shared in Savannah, and the impact of Simon Fraser University was invisible compared to that of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Still, one important aspect remained quite evident — this community of interaction designers truly adores one another.

Finding people with whom you share similar passions, challenges, and perspectives both comforts and uplifts the community. Even with the different feel this year, Interaction fulfilled a critical mission. Disenfranchised, overwrought interaction designers looking for a way forward found renewal that can last us the whole year. We encountered inspiration around every corner, ringing with the clear message that our time has come and our mandate as designers continues to grow.

Instead of practical advice on which interface elements to employ in particular situations or new techniques for prototyping, the overall emphasis at Interaction 09 was much more about the role that interaction designers need to play in their organizations and throughout the world. Even IxDA’s manifesto noted the aim to “improve the human condition” — a far loftier goal than simply making useful and engaging digital interfaces.

Day 1, February 6

After a day and a half of workshops, the Interaction 09 conference started on Friday afternoon with a lineup of impressive keynote speeches from John Thackara and Fiona Raby, along with a heated panel discussion moderated by Jared Spool.

Thackara, in his talk titled “Experiencing Sustainability” (description | video) demanded that interaction designers do our part to combat climate change, resource depletion, and economic crisis by shifting our focus and skills towards designing promising new solutions for repair and growth. As interaction designers, we have the ability to devise innovative systems to combat common, everyday problems, and Thackara urged us to consider our impact far beyond the computer screen.

Though A/V system problems mired her talk, Raby shared several projects from her design students at the Royal College of Art that challenge many constraints we artificially place on how people interact with technology, and more importantly how people interact with and relate to one another when facilitated (and controlled) by technology.

Spool kicked off his panel by noting that as of today, 10,000 new interaction designers are needed to support the growing challenges of even just the most major companies; he asked his panelists, both educators and managers of design teams, how they plan to meet the demand. Matthew Holloway of SAP, Josh Seiden of Liquidnet and outgoing president of IxDA, and Andrei Herasimchuk of Involution Studios discussed the perfect balance of skills, education, and experience that they seek from designers they bring into their teams. Liz Danzico, chair of the new MFA Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts, and Jon Kolko, who founded the interaction design minor at SCAD, discussed how to best prepare interaction designers to recognize and address everyday business obstacles, becoming all the more valuable to their organizations.

The panel was getting at some critical obstacles in growing the interaction design practice before it disappointingly devolved into a “define the damn thing” debate about the distinction between interaction design and user experience. Groans from the audience and fierce statements from the panelists revealed just how divisive and counterproductive this argument can be. Still, it was great to see the community alive with fervor, as many hallway and hotel room conversations on the topic followed.

Day 2, February 7

While everyone was still nursing their wounds, Saturday started off on a much more uplifting note. We had talked about the state of the world, laid out our differences, and recognized just how much we’re all desperately needed; now it was time to talk about how to get this stuff done.

In his keynote titled “Irrational Behavior” (description | video), Robert Fabricant showed us some concrete ways that his team at frog design is addressing pervasive public health issues in South Africa with Project Masiluleke. He shared inspiring examples of great interaction design and reminded us that “technology is not our medium; behavior is our medium.” Fabricant differentiated among the outputs, outcomes, and impacts of our designs, noting that just because people are buying a product doesn’t necessarily mean that their behavior is changing. Our goal, clearly, should be the latter.

Dan Saffer revved us up at the end of the day with an impassioned keynote (description | video). He called for an end to the “religious wars” and obsession with defining our practice and instead urged us to be flexible and determine what is best for each project. “There are no best practices,” he said. “Best practices should be a place to begin, not where it ends,” reminding us that our responsibility is to invent new systems. He echoed other speakers in focusing our attention on health care, education, government, energy, and other domains where our ability to recognize and solve ongoing problems is sorely needed. “Where are the interaction design rockstars?” Saffer asked, citing our need to be as visible as the Frank Gehrys and Philippe Starcks of the world.

Ultimately the message was that being poised to tackle these issues simply isn’t enough if we aren’t capable of selling ourselves. As revitalizing as it is for our community to come together and learn from one another, it’s more important that we get out of the echo chamber and make ourselves known to those outside of the practice who can put us in a position to create change.

Day 3, February 8

By day three, we were ready to step out of the shadows and no one better to show us the way than Marc Rettig, a very humble and discreet member of our community who exposed us to the ways in which he and his company are choosing to make a stand.

He reiterated many of the previous day’s themes in his keynote, “How to Change Complicated Stuff (e.g., the World),” declaring that the relationships we create through products are far more important than the products themselves. If our goal as interaction designers is to create positive change, then we can no longer just be satisfied with shipping the product or launching the site. “You must establish the change,” Rettig said, “and put in place the necessary conditions for it to be come the new Normal.” Ultimately, our success isn’t measured with metrics but instead by the personal stories that illustrate how lives have been improved by our design solutions.

Then in her closing keynote, Kim Goodwin noted that the sustainability and cultivation of our practice can be ensured by one very important activity: Mentorship. Goodwin noted that if everyone in the audience mentored just one or two people, our community would grow exponentially and we would all become better at our craft. Both the mentor and the mentee have much to learn from one another, and that passing of the torch symbolizes, and ensures, the longevity of our profession.

Indelible Marks

A single theme emerged throughout the three days of the conference: The time has come to expand the definition of what interaction design comprises. In an ever-changing, interconnected, and in many ways injured world, we need to apply our skill sets, techniques, methodologies, and critical problem-solving capabilities to much larger-scale systems far beyond the reaches of technology.

As Doug Lemoine of Cooper nicely stated in a blog post recap, “Like other disciplines, interaction design is wrestling with the ways in which we, as a profession and as individuals, can do more than simply design more disposable crap. How can we design stuff that lasts, stuff that helps, stuff that addresses real problems?”

Phillip Hunter was particularly intrigued by the greater number of touchpoints across which we can design. Reflecting on the conference two months later, he wrote, “It was really exciting to hear and see emerging design tools and interaction mediums. NUI & gestural interfaces, mobile, MS Surface, Axure, Catalyst (someday soon we hope), etc., along with continuing extensions of browser-type experiences with Silverlight and Flex.”

Our community is growing, and with new people come new approaches, perspectives, and methodologies. As Matthew Nish-Lapidus wrote on the nForm blog, “Our practice is still in relative infancy, but there is amazing momentum and a great sense of importance driving us forward.” The challenge now is to unify the practice and turn our attention to the profound problems that truly need our help.

Several other sessions deserve note for garnering much discussion. Leisa Reichelt’s “Design by Community — The Drupal.org redesign” examined how to use the community to grow the design, while Christina Wodtke’s “Designing the Viral App” examined how to use the design to grow the community.

Also of note were those talks providing insight into the full-body interactions required for touch screen interfaces — Nathan Moody’s “Designing Natural Interfaces” and Bjorn Hartman’s “Enlightened Trial and Error – Gaining Design Insight Through New Prototyping Tools.”

Looking Forward

One of the most interesting things about the IxDA conferences are the sheer number of sessions presented over the course of just a few days. While “Lightning Round” slots allow for a wider variety of topics, 25 minutes is much too short to get anything of value out of a session. By the time everyone arrived, got settled in their seats and pulled out their notebooks or laptops, almost half the session had passed. There were several sessions that left me wanting more, feeling as though I would have gotten greater depth out of reading a blog post or article on the topic. I hope in the future that the organizers schedule more in-depth 45-minute-to-one-hour sessions and reduce the number of these shorter sessions.

In the end, the best thing about Interaction 09 was the opportunity to spend three days with so many brilliant, passionate practitioners, educators, and thought-leaders from all around the world. It is an honor to be among them, and no matter where we are or how we gather, these events and the community’s support energize me to do more, try harder, think smarter, and reach farther. Here’s to next year back in Savannah!

Note: Videos have been indicated here where available. More videos will be posted by the IxDA on Vimeo. Feel free to check there for updates. -Ed.

IA Summit 09 – Day 3

Written by: Jeff Parks

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IA Summit 2009 Podcasts

The IA Summit was held in Memphis, TN from March 20-22. Boxes and Arrows captured many of the main conference sessions (see schedule).

| Preview | Keynote | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Closing Plenary |

iTunes     Del.icio.us     IA Summit theme music created and provided by BumperTunes™

Main Conference Sessions, Day 3 – Sunday, March 22

These sessions were recorded on the first day of the conference. Download them individually here, or get them all with the Boxes and Arrows iTunes feed.

Links to the presentations and slidecasts will be updated continuously. See the Slideshare IA Summit 2009 page for up-to-the-minute lists of available presentations.

Thanks to the speakers for their hard work and for sharing their knowledge with the community.

Gaming the Design: Using Game Design Techniques in the Realm of Investing Dominic La Cava and Kellie Rae Carter

Games have a central goal in their design: to keep people playing. Games use a variety of interactive and immersive techniques to create a play space, techniques that are useful to designers of more work-oriented or transaction-based interactions. These other interactive spaces, in fact, have the exact opposite goal: to reduce the time users spend on the task or interaction.

In this presentation, Dominic La Cava, Senior Information Architect at Vanguard, and Kellie Rae CarterUX researcher at Comcast Interactive Media, demonstrate how one design team incorporated game techniques into a redesign project.


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Leading with InsightMatthew Milan

Insight is one of the most widely used and poorly understood concepts in the creative process. Insight is what drives the big idea, validates the crazy hunch, and frames both problem and solution in one fell swoop. Without the right perspective, knowledge, and grounding, generating insight can be unpredictable, wildly unreliable, and completely inconsistent in application.

Matthew Milan, Principal and Design Director with Normative, helps us understand how to generate, identify, frame and use insight effectively. This poorly understood practice is an increasingly a critical skill to have when working on solving complex problems. As an information architect, insight is one of the best tools you can use to unpack difficult challenges and turn them into effective solutions.


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Lessons from Slime Mold: How to Survive and Thrive in Ever-Changing Organizational EnvironmentsKate Rutter

How can we stay effective, be engaged and create great work in an environment that is ever changing and in constant flux?

Say hello to slime mold, an organism that has spent the last few million years evolving a powerful set of survival techniques that are wonderfully relevant for people grappling in shifting organizational environments.

Kate Rutter, Experience Designer at Adaptive Path, describes how this fascinating life form holds intriguing lessons for today’s knowledge worker — from sensing and responding to environments that become hostile to using the power of signals to create alignment and collective action. In this romp through the kingdom of myxomycetes, we learn a set of practical tips and tools for surviving, thriving and doing our best work in even the toughest of environments.


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The Art and Science of Seductive InteractionsStephen Anderson

To be good information architects, we need to crack open some psych 101 textbooks, learn what motivates people, and then bake these ideas into our designs. We’ve spent the last decade perfecting how to create applications that serve our users needs. Now it’s time learn a bit about the art and science of seductive interactions.

Stephen P. Anderson has been gathering and analyzing specific examples of sites who’ve designed serendipity, arousal, rewards and other seductive elements into their applications.

By understanding basic psychological principles we can raise the bar on our projects!


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The Courage to Quit: Starting, Growing and Maintaining Your Own UX BusinessSarah Rice, Whitney Hess, Jenn Anderson, & Christopher Fahey

In this panel discussion, freelance IAs Sarah Rice, Whitney Hess, Jenn Anderson, and Christopher Fahey argue that Information Architects have an opportunity to structure and evolve their own work environment. There is potential to influence where they work, who they work with, the type of work they do, and for whom they do work.

This panel discusses what it is like to create ones own work environment – the motivation for taking this entrepreneurial path, what it has been like, what we’ve learned, and the ups and downs of such a work life.


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UX Health Check: A Measure A Day Keeps the Redesign AwayLivia Labate & Austin Govella

The UX Health Check allows IA/UX professionals and their collaborators to introduce metrics of success and benchmarks to their product and service design decision-making, from the most strategic to the most tactical aspects.

Measures of success that qualify and quantify user experience efforts are scarce and not widely adopted. Livia Labate, Principal of Information Architecture and User Experience for Comcast Interactive Media, and Austin Govella, author and Independent Consultant, demonstrate the UX Health Check. This approach introduces a common language for UX professionals to measure how investments in improving the user experience result in concrete outcomes.


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Professional IA/UX Organizations – How to Start and Run a Successful Local Group or ChapterKyle Soucy, Nasir Barday

The growth of the IA/UX industry has seen the birth of numerous organizations with local chapters and groups around the globe, but there is more work that needs to be done. Existing chapters and groups need support and guidance to ensure continued growth and there are still vast regions that are in need of their own chapters and groups.

During this session, Kyle Soucy, Founder of Usable Interface, and Nasir Barday, Senior User Experience Architect at FactSet Research Systems Inc, share how to keep the momentum of a group going strong, including:

* Good meeting ideas
* How to find venues, sponsors, and speakers
* How to promote your events
* Pitfalls to avoid in running your group
* How to deal with limited volunteer help


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An Internet Watered Down (or, How to Save the Mobile Web)John Pettengill

Mobile sites are not an afterthought to be appended on the end of a development cycle. Smart phones have something that desktop computers do not. Context. We need to rebuild the mobile web from the ground up, capitalizing on the fact that we can know where our users are, and consequently we can know their intentions.

John Pettengill, Information Architect with Razorfish, believes mobile websites should address the needs of users who are “out and about”, and any site that doesn’t shouldn’t be considered part of the mobile web. The Starbucks iTunes Store is a great example of how we can change, and improve, the way we live. iPhone users are presented with a special application when they are at a Starbucks café, an app that displays songs played at the café and gives users a way to purchase them.


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Evangelizing Yourself: You can’t change the world if no one knows your nameWhitney Hess

We devote our careers to advocating for our users, but who’s advocating for us? No one is going to carry you through your career. If you want to make a major impact in this field, you’re going to have to work at getting recognized. Moreover, your name has to be synonymous with quality.

In this session, Whitney Hess, User Experience Design consultant, helps timid and unassertive practitioners come out of their shells and become leaders in the user experience community. Her advice is based on her own experience taking control of her career and developing an authentic and positive reputation.

Whitney talks about the value of starting a personal blog, actively using Twitter and LinkedIn to build and maintain a network, staying up-to-date with trends and standards, how to get the most out of conferences, and ultimately how to gain confidence in your skills and successes.


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Five Minute MadnessIA Summit Community

This open mic session traditionally closes the IA Summit. Any conference attendee can approach the microphone five minutes to make their mark on the IA Summit. As in years past, a variety of people take advantage of this open forum.


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These podcasts are sponsored by:

ASIS&T logo
The “American Society of Information Science & Technology”:http://asist.org/: Since 1937, ASIS&T has been THE society for information professionals leading the search for new and better theories, techniques, and technologies to improve access to information.

IA Summit 2009 logo
The “IA Summit”:http://www.iasummit.org: the premier gathering place for information architects and other user experience professionals.

The theme of the event this year, Expanding Our Horizons, inspired peers and industry experts to come together to speak about a wide range of topics. This included information as wide ranging as practical techniques & tools to evolving practices to create better user experiences.

The design behind the design
“Boxes & Arrows”:http://www.boxesandarrows.com: Since 2001, Boxes & Arrows has been a peer-written journal promoting contributors who want to provoke thinking, push limits, and teach a few things along the way.

Contribute as an editor or author, and get your ideas out there. “boxesandarrows.com/about/participate”:http://www.boxesandarrows.com/about/participate