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The great thing about live blogging a conference is the insane amount of information received, retained and interpreted. That bad thing? You run out of steam. Apologies to the final two sessions that I didn’t record.

In conclusion, I found IDEA 2010 to be a tremendous success bringing together some of the most amazing minds in IA and IxD. Yes, the dialog continues between the roles of each profession, the blurred lines, and the never-ending discussion/argument between job title and job function. Selfishly, as a practicing content strategist, it’s nice to know our profession isn’t the only one still sorting it all out.

Again, congrats to Russ and his hard working team for pulling together such a great conference. Philadelphia, specifically the old town, was a fantastic host. I’m vastly looking forward to where the newly formed comittee decides for a location.



We’re back for day #2 in sunny Philadelphia for IDEA 2010.

Jared Spool and Reed are up on stage playing some sweet ass zippy music that makes it exceptionally easy to type. They will be presenting shortly. Jared just kicked me out of my seat.  Eschewing sobbing for another cup of coffee. Alright, everyone is filing in, this presentation with Jaraed and Reed should kick some ass.

The Best is the Enemy of the Good

  • Always a good way to start of the morning when you mix beat boxing with magic.
  • Dramatic stage presentation by Reed basically performing magic while beat boxing and a the crowd baited on his every move.
  • Parralls between professional magic and IxD
  • We can learn a lot from a profession that basically has over 100 years head start
  • Magic: Creative, Business, Community of Practice (sound familiar?)
  • Path to becoming a master starts with being a beginner. Which of course, sucks.
  • Once you mimic something, you can then, and only then innovate.
  • Sucking, mimicking, innovating. We’ve seen this process before (roaring laughing)
  • Microsoft innovated with Word, but kind of went too far.
  • This is a pattern that keeps repeating
  • (man, how much do designers and content needs LOVE
  • Re: Don’t Make Me Think. “You suck, get over it”
  • Are we (as a profession) becoming masterful.
  • I’m not perfect, but I’m really really good.
  • It’s responsibility to all aspects of a show beyond your given skill.
  • What are the skills that we need to create good design.
  • Jared is not a fan of roles, which he sees as a subset of skills.
  • What are your enterprise skills?
  • What are your soft skills?
  • The T shaped man, doesn’t work. You have the broken comb, you are getting better at different skills.
  • The Renaissance person would kick some serious.
  • Practice is only for you. It’s like muscle memory for your brain. Practic shouldn’t be work and you don’t have to pay attention all the time.
  • Process workshops is practice.
  • Renaissance people are needed to build your team.
  • People are willing to invest in design, but are we skilled enough, have we practiced enough.
  • Brains work vs hands work. Brains work should be billed 3 times as much as hands work.
  • If you come in as hands, you may not have get as many of your ideas pushed through.

OK, Next up Cindy Chastain and her talk The Importance of Storytelling in the Age of Digital Ecosystems

  • We have to think as storytellers to solve design problems.
  • You have to start with offering a service.
  • You have to start with a good story to have a consistance service ecosystem.
  • Damn. Nook is a really good name for that.
  • Baseball’s popularity is largely due to data. The story about baseball is built around the ecosystem of data.
  • Way to dig more deeply into the game.
  • McSweeney example – massively different kinds of content all bound together by the same story.
  • single product/service and multiple product/services
  • story(thinking) a narrative of connecting people to the ecosystem.
  • storylines leads to subplots.
  • Then you map the subplots to the ecosystem
  • The more Cindy speaks, the more I realize I have so much more to learn.
  • Once you map, then you need to create stories for design.
  • Stories helps build a collection around a common theme. Keeps the customer focused.
  • Lunch time!

stay tuned….

And we are back from our glorious lunch break. I had something I couldn’t pronounce and it was lovely.

Settling in for (How Is This All) Going To Work? What we teach, how we learn and what employers want.

  • Alright, looks like we have a panel of speakers here and they are Dan Klyn, Liz Danzico, Richard Dalton, Amanda Schonfeld, Cindy Chastain, Katie McCurdy and Erin Moore.
  • Print and Athletics to IxD and IA. Nice! Erin
  • Liz up next.
  • Learning by doing. Making an idea real.
  • Experience broken down by process, concept, craft, communication
  • Students need to learn process so they can deviate from it.
  • we must pay attention to craft. must be fluent in craft.
  • Behavior is broken down by observation, language,
  • Write often. (yay!)
  • Dan is up next
  • I never get a science fiction reference.
  • What do I know, apparently it was a Harry Potter reference.
  • delineating between IxD and IA has become toxic. Define the damn thing.
  • (wow) grappling with a slash. (Jesus, is it that bad to have multiple titles for the same thing, or different flavors. )
  • Katie up next
  • her schooling was rounded out by several design methods, solving design problems, independent projects, extreme networking
  • Employers want to know what YOU contributed to a project.
  • Next up Cindy
  • We are now tasked with figuring out entire ecosystems.
  • Knowing where you fall into a skill is key.
  • You need a primary identifier.
  • You need to map out your literacy vs. expertise. What can you execute.
  • depth of craft + range of understanding + strategic insight = Innovation
  • Amanda is up next
  • Employee referrals are huge.
  • The wiifi is beyond wonky
  • Format of your ressy
  • If you are trying to make a change, you need be honest and flexible
  • Can we talk about how many lunch options there was?
  • Richard is up
  • Recommendations mean squat if the hiring manager doesn’t know the person.
  • talent, cultural fit, passion
  • BBI, Behavioral Based Interviewing

OK, now we are into Vidya’s Drago’s Trends  in the Future of Online Experiences

  • Nice to see some fresh blood presenting to the UX community
  • No one here is going to try to predict the future (but it’s so fun!)
  • I am digging this history of cars
  • New forms of tech start by imitating older forms and then evolve into their own.
  • We are only 17 years into evolution of the web, it took 50yrs for the car to get a form we can relate to.
  • In discovering trends they looked at capabilities, consumers and competition
  • no longer is there a wife chasm between mobility and capability.
  • Customized, Aggregated, Relevant, social
  • Jesus, apparently I visit like 5 websites. I feel 80.
  • Aggregate is another term that has been bastardized and lost often in translation. However, I love the way Vidya makes it work in this context.

Next up is Karen McGrane (*swoon*)

  • Karen McGrane just admitted she isn’t a content strategist.
  • great present analogy
  • the world of content has exploded due to social media
  • IA found the pain point and gave it a name.
  • IA has done a great job of defining a process.
  • Content Strategy deserves people talking about it and it deserves a process.
  • Think beyond the template
  • Not buckets, templates or wrappers
  • speak up on the content’s behalf.
  • prototype with test wireframes with the best and worst content examples.
  • OMG I totally organize the soup cans
  • Assess when the content is good when doing the inventory.
  • Losing steam, totally reveling in Karen McGrane’s awesomeness.
  • Stay tuned…


Today is the first…day…ahem…sorry, still fuzzy from @Madpow’s killer party last night at National Mechanics. We are ready to kick off IDEA2010! I will do my best to live blog through the sessions, there will be part observations, part candor, part humor and as much knowledge as I can absorb and type. I will do my best, I hope you enjoy.

First up, a Welcome and then we’re into Ubiquitous Architecture and Gamestorming.

Ubiquitous Architecture and Gamestorming

Peter Morville is up first.

  • Dichotomy Alert! Information Architects and User Experience Designer
  • Already in love with Peter as he makes CS a part of the conversation.
  • The tactical and strategic roles may be separating, but they are still held closely together.
  • visuals can often break down barriers
  • Search involves an insane attention to detail.
  • Will innovation redefine search, ongoing discussion.
  • You can now search by sketching or singing
  • We can’t ignore the possibility of sensory search.
  • Cross Media Integration – what is the right balance?
  • iTunes led the way with this (duh), but we are finally seeing other areas (Nike, Zipcar etc)
  • REI has worked to bring all content creators together, eliminating silos (yay!)
  • Mike Kuniavsky – don’t worry, he’s already thinking light years ahead of us (whew…)
  • Service blueprints are the key parts of Service Design, they identify the touchpoints (Peter feels they are not enough)
  • User Service Map – The Intertwingularity (buzzword alert!) The mix of digital and physical (how would you view a movie, download, movie theater…)
  • What is the perceived distance in the physical world, but when you apply the same thought to digital, it has more to do with the experience.
  • IA is about building bridges, but the work doesn’t stop, there are always more bridges to be built.
  • Peter makes the brilliant point that Ken Burns is GOD (ok, maybe I made that up, but COME ON, the man is fabulous!)
  • Panel discussion time!
  • What the hell is gamestorming!? – Disruptive way of explaining problem solving (Sunni) Collection of things that work (James) Making the information more shareable (Dave)
  • Gamestorming = visual thinking people (Peter’s interpretation)
  • Confession: As a writer, designing anything visually scares the crap out of me.
  • Visual thinking = Gamestorming
  • Gamestorming reminds me a lot of discovery writing. Visually working through a problem, much like writing through a problem.
  • Peter makes the point that Gamestorming is just IA in disguise.
  • The best way to describing gamestorming is to do it.

Hey oh, just had a break out session where Sunni Brown taught us visually challenged “drawers” a new way to not be afraid to sketch out our ideas visually. She had a great way of using a visual alphabet (lines, circles, basically crap we can all draw to represent a image. It was basically a speed round of Pictionary where we drew a coffee cup (easy), charisma (not so much) and a pervert (priests abound). Insanely fun, interactive and a great way to meet some new people.

Next up, Going Native: The Anthropology of Mobile App Design with Josh Clark

  • Mobile can be thought of as cultures.
  • Anthropology – how or why we act the way we act.
  • Still very much in the discovery phase of mobile platforms.
  • (Lego graphic backdrop is S.I.C.K.)
  • text interfaces were initially such a crummy experience.
  • Suddenly wondering if my mother threw away all of our Legos. I think I’ll call her at lunch.
  • Defining a culture, defines the mobile appearance
  • 87% of AA and English speaking latinos compared to 80% of white peeps.
  • Nokia = Symbian. I did not know that.
  • BB os is still king in America (40%) For now…
  • BB heavy on texting and email, but lacking on web browsing.
  • iPhone = super active user
  • Sorry, nanny is texting me. The power is out and I am trying to tell her how to reset the breaker in the electrical panel. Good god.
  • For Android, it’s the technology, skews for younger users. “good enough”
  • Android is for tinkerers, so apparently Tinker Bell is ALL over this phone.
  • Windows mobile slide draws a good laugh from the crowd. Oh, Redmond, you have fallen so far.
  • Satisfaction index shows that iPhone/Android lead the way while BB and Windows (giggle/snort) lacks big time.
  • Cultures love rivalry. Great analogy.
  • It’s really not about tools. Emotional connection means more now in the mobile universe.
  • Appropriate Technologies – basically pairing cultures with the right technologies
  • There is a market for SMS apps (think of voting for AI)
  • Mobile culture goverance is partially regulation and part of the social experience.
  • Wait, whut? Content Strategy doesn’t own the term governance.
  • Governance shapes our experience.
  • Sorry, twitter distraction, bad Matthew.
  • Can the web entertain this circus?
  • Mobile web can sidestep the governance issue.
  • Praying there is a stack of legos at lunch.
  • You cannot satiate everyone, so there cannot be only one silver bullet mobile OS
  • We are all cloud developers now (I have no idea what this means)
  • Build device specific app, not an all encompassing app.
  • Lunch time!

Stay tuned…

The other day I partook in a great American pastime. Playing baseball? Eating apple pie? Going to WalMart?

Fuck no. I went car shopping.

Car dealerships have come a long way since the dank, dimly lit showrooms of years past.

Today, you can walk into a an area that looks more like a museum bistro than a car store. Massive flat panel TV, floor to ceiling windows, COFFEE, even a toy room to deposit the children. On the surface, who the hell wouldn’t want to spend the better part of a Saturday afternoon on a cushy leather couch, eating popcorn, watching a Family Ties rerun?

However, there comes a point (somewhere between the 2nd hour and Lloyd running back to the manager’s office to run some figures) where you realize where you are. You aren’t at that museum, sipping a latte watching your children get smarter. You are drinking mediocre, at best, coffee, watching someone die on CNN while your son belts your daughter over the head with a germ infested broken plastic tractor. Oh, and you are at a mother effin car dealership in the middle of a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.

The longer you wait for what you want, the more inclined to develop a deep loathing for not only your intended purchase, but also for the location where that purchase is located.

2 hours later, I now hate this car dealership, I hate the salesman, I hate cars and I am starting to develop an unhealthy hatred for CNN.

All because I had to wait for what I wanted.

Unfortunately, the same happens with information presented on your website. The landing page is awesome; Pretty graphics, warm tones and carefully thought out content. However, as you search deeper, clicking down through the site, the more frustrated you become. The landing page heightens your interest, yet the more excited you become and the more questions you have, the more you become disappointed in your findings. Content fails when it’s unable to keep up with the pace of its audience.

I almost feel bad for that car dealership. After 2 hours I walked out. They simply took too long to get me what I needed. I know the exact car I want, and I know I can find it somewhere else. The next dealership might not have the fancy couch or the big tv. But if they have a chair for me to sit down and can get me what I need in a timely manner, they’ll have my business.

Here is the final blog post on today’s #wcconf sessions. Again, this is a rapid fire/real time reaction to the speaker(s). My thoughts in ().

  • (People coming in, I have remained in the same seat for two days. I am going to miss it. In fact, my unhealthy attraction for the Gleacher Center has reached epic proportions)
  • (I want Jeff Eaton’s glasses. I may steal them off him during his presentation)
  • (Karen is already going to swear. I’m giddy. )
  • 11th hour shit storm problem, we have ALL experienced this
  • We are smart people, yet will still run into this issues.
  • The Day 2 problem starts on Day 1.
  • (love when presenters reference other presenters in the same conference, it makes it seem like they are paying attention to each other. )
  • Oh no! Karen went live with the existing content *cue lightening bolts* “Systemic failure”
  • We knew the content sucked, but we couldn’t do anything about it. (internally dancing in my seat)
  • 7000pages + 45 people + 6 weeks + 5400 = (um…ouch)
  • Work with the worst content and the least complaint content providers
  • Usability testing with content providers, not just end users.
  • (this is a fucking good presentation)
  • (interested to see how hard core project managers think of content strategy)
  • Any time you work on content it is later than you wanted to.
  • Black Boxing content is a systemic problem
  • (Convincing non 11th hour shit storm of content creation is a bitch)
  • Web strategy is not to new navigation options, it is to create more information for people to find.
  • Not enough to persuade, you need to do it.
  • Old Process diagrams…(hee hee good for a laugh)
  • Demand to see real content in in designs so you can see the missing pieces
  • Bring your own project plan and sync up activities
  • (you know when you go to a show and bands just seem to single handedly kick ass, pushing the others toward more awesomeness? That is happening with today’s presenters. Blown. Away)
  • (really cool the way Jeff is showing the back end of a site and how easy it is to add content on the fly)
  • Drupal has a rep of being really flexible, but hard to manage content.
  • Joomla somewhere in the middle ground
  • WordPress, ridiculously easy for content
  • shift focus away from features and towards task flow
  • abject failure to apply user process design to CMSs
  • (running over the time limit and NO ONE wants to leave. Fucking awesome)
  • When presenting new designs you have to present the CMS input as well.
  • CMS can do it, but will it do it well???
  • stress test with the most possible content
  • Content migration takes longer than you think
  • Good planet takes planning and time
  • No one goes to admire their templates, they are there for your content
  • people who design the site need a good experience too.
  • OUT!

Last night Content Strategy New England was lucky enough to have Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic come in for a great discussion on the ins and outs of content strategy. Huge thanks to Rick Allen and Mad*Pow for cosponsoring the event.

Below are my observations and take-aways:

  • Close your eyes and envision you are Kristina Halvorson for a day. You are so redonkulously passionate about content, you have inspired thousands with your book Content Strategy for the Web. Pretty sweet. Do you have an ego? No. Are you funny as hell? Yes. Even though you have dedicated your career to something you love, are you still passionate about it? Yes, yes and yes. (OK, open your eyes, you look weird). It’s inspiring to watch her in action. Made me oddly happy as I want to do the same thing.
  • Maintenance vs. Governance – Kristina made the point that maintenance implies automation (read:CMS) and governance implies individual actions. If we had more time, I would have loved to ask how do we defend the concept of governance when there is so much attrition throughout a project or content lifestyle.  I know there are room for both content strategists and CMS consultants, but so often we are pushed toward the tactic (CMS) and not the thought behind it (content strategy). Hoping I have some time in Chicago in a couple weeks to hammer this out.
  • Christ on a cracker, there is a need for content strategy consultants (or at the very least a Brain Traffic East) in Boston. What I kept hearing was the need from designers for a content strategist on their project. You’re right, we can’t do it all. We need to make sure we help put content strategists in touch with those who need us. Next meetup, I propose all content strategists just put their business cards on the front table. Kidding. Not really.
  • Great question posed concerning the role of a content strategist in client’s hierarchical structure. Peer or leader? This began a great discussion on collaboration and how important it is to be an active collaborator. As a content strategist, you are not barking orders or screaming to be heard. You are part of every part of the project life cyle. Your ability to mediate with different people is just as important as the guidance you give to your client.
  • Someone mentioned MacGyver. I immediately wanted to write a blog entry on Jack of all Trades (MacGyver) morphing into the company laughing stock (MacGruber). To be tackled at a later date.

In summary, I left wanting more. I could have used 3 more hours either asking questions or offering advice on people’s questions. I am beyond curious to know what other CS meetup groups are talking about. In fact, if anyone wants to road trip with me, I am totally driving down to New York for their next meetup.

I’m 35 and I sound like a 15 year old at their first concert. I guess it’s just because I’m inspired which tends to put a hop in one’s step.

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