Sunday, March 06, 2005

Reflections on IA Summit so far

A half-day remains after today.

Just wanted to jot down some thoughts on the benefits I gained here:
  • Serendipity: idea generation - most of the content was not earth-shaking, but certain points presented in different ways did cause some brain sparks; different ways of approaching problems, applying solutions from one domain to another.

  • External Networking: Opportunity to meet interesting people as well as to recruit.

  • Internal Networking: Getting to know my Y! colleagues better outside of work.

  • Competitive monitoring: Mmm hmm. Yup.

  • Wake-up call: BJ Fogg's call for designers to recognize our power and ethical responsibility to create experiences that increase freedom (not necessarily choice; sometimes, too many choices can be oppressive), or at the very least, to not decrease it.

  • Good presenters in action: Attending so many prezos allowed me to observe differences in the quality of public speaking and how it affected reception of the content. A Powerpoint does not a good presentation make. Good presenters could make average content attractive, increase audience participation. The best presenters had well-organized slides, projected their voices clearly, and made it a point to engage their audience, almost in a conversational manner, throughout their talks. Poor presenters, from what I heard, not only skewered their own content, but caused people to leave the room. Presentation, in this case, cannot be separated from content.
Some things I didn't like, which typically happen at these sorts of gatherings:
  • Rudimentary content: Some of the content seemed basic. Perhaps it's because the conference is still geared to IAs who may not have as much experience with interaction or application or product design. Perhaps some requirement that speakers identify who they think would benefit from their topic (skill level, experience level, job title, role, etc.) could be incorporated for future IA Summits.

  • Repackaging of old content: Some of the energy spent on taking old concepts and giving them new names was a little draining for me to listen to. Perhaps this was an effort to reshape ideas to be more palatable to an IA-centric audience.

  • Poor, poor Internet access: We were wired in our bedrooms and wireless in the lobby and conference floor (CDN$16/day covered both flavors). But wireless was either unreliable or flat out not available to most, which was what was needed for those of us blogging the presentations (ok, just me). I was able to jack in in some of the conference rooms, and I only discovered this because I was really looking. Next time, the conference facility should have wireless as a given, and it should just be included as a cost of registration. It's 2005, and does the facility provider really need to nickel and dime everyone for internet access?

  • Pick someplace warm: Montreal is beautiful, but in March? The next places that start with "M"? Monterey, CA. Miami. Monaco. Mmmm.