Getting fired up for IDEA 2007

· conventionology, Design, Information Architecture, User Experience

idea-badge-120x90.pngI regretted not being able to attend the first-ever IDEA conference last year in Seattle and I was thrilled when the organizers decided to hold the second IDEA conference in New York City, my home town, at the legendary Parsons School of Design.
IDEA has already in one year established a reputation for bringing big-idea folks together to share their ideas about design, architecture, shared information spaces, visualization of dataa, and what it means to be human in an internetworked machine age. I expect this year’s conference program to be every bit as stimulating.
IDEA stands for Information, Design, Experience, Access, and its presented by the IA Institute, an organization on whose board I have the privilege of serving at this time. My involvement in the conference planning has been focused on getting the website up and recruiting volunteers for the technical tasks required (my portfolio, as it were, on the board of directors of the IAI is technical matters). Events director Sarah Rice, IDEA founder Peter Merholz, and volunteer event coordinator Greg Corrin deserve the credit for pulling this year’s conference together.
Technical volunteers Beck Tench, Chi-chi Oguekwe, Grace Lau, Susan Wong, and Gordon McLean have all chipped in to build and maintain the site, with very little supervision or input from me, so they deserve a great deal of credit as well.
For anyone attending (or thinking of attending) IDEA this year, consider signing up in addition at the Crowdvine social networking site. There’s still time to register (the conference runs on October 4th and 5th, with an optional pre-conference event on the 3rd), and if you do manage to come to New York, look me up at Parsons and say hi.

Pushing social patterns

· Patterns, Social Design

One of my top priorities in my job as curator of Yahoo’s Design Pattern Library is to help polish up and publish to the wider web community a series of social-media oriented design patterns that our community platform team has been working on.

The first of this, Vote to Promote (a sort of generic “Digg This!” pattern) went live last week. There are more to come. The author of the pattern, Bryce Glass, has more to say about it in his blog, Soldier Ant, and I blogged about the pattern (and a new organizational scheme I’m trying out for the library, both the internal and open versions) at the Yahoo! User Interface Blog.

As always, we welcome feedback.

Reputation and Patterns at SXSW

· conventionology, Patterns, Social Design, The Power of Many, User Experience

Here’s my obligatory plug for my South by Southwest proposals. I’ve got two panels in contention at the cool-but-unwieldy Panel Picker, so I thought I’d provide some shortcuts here. A lot of folks feel that there are too many panels at SXSW and not enough solo presenters. I tend to agree, but I think the problem is really panels that are underprepared or have too many participants. After moderating a panel with five participants last year I’ve decided that that’s too many for a 45 or 50 minute slot. I think four (including moderator) is the max, and three or even two is probably ideal.
The first panel I’m proposing pertains to my ongoing book project (working title: Presence of Mind), on the subject of online/digital identity, reputation, attention, privacy, trust, and presence. Last year, my panel, Every Breath You Take (podcast, my slides) seemed to go over fairly well, despite the gawdawful 10 am but really 9 am because of daylight savings Sunday morning slot (you must recall that Saturday night – and, really, every other night – at SXSW involves a lot of drinking for most attendees.
I took to heart the positive and negative feedback and so the sequel this year will feature just three participants: myself, Ted Nadeau returning from last year, and Andrew Hinton, whose presentation on communities of practice at the IA Summit this year was such a huge success. We’re going to strive to go beyond the typical talking-head panel format and enage the audience in innovative ways. We’re also going to try to take the conversation past the grounwork-laying, high-level philosophizing of last year and hand the attendees some practical tools for building on what we’re tentatively calling the “human operating system.”
If this sounds appealing to you, please go vote for Online Reputation: And I *Do* Give a Damn about My Bad Reputation.
My second proposal draws on my experience running Yahoo!’s Design Pattern Library and moderating a mailing list for pattern authors. I’ve recruited Jenifer Tidwell, the leading figure in UI patterns; Austin Govella, who can talk about implementing a pattern library in a commerical context at Comcast; and James Reffel, also now at Yahoo!, who will share what he learned getting eBay’s pattern engine off the ground.
Luke Wrobleski’s talk on patterns at SXSW last year filled a large room and generated a lot of interest and I’m hoping to serve that same constituency by sharing practical experience and advice in our panel Design Patterns: the Devil’s in the Details, which we described this way:
> Patterns ground frameworks like Rails and Django drive libraries like Prototype, and enable rapid product development at companies big and small. But what happens when patterns go wrong? How do you know when a pattern is right? We’ll examine common issues facing groups who use design patterns and share our experiences at making sure patterns go right.
There are a lot of other great proposals. I kind of wish I could sort my existing votes into star order to remind myself of the ones I’ve already deemed must-sees, but here are a few I’ve been able to recall or find.
* [Agile User Experience – Bigger! Better! Faster! More](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/123) – Austin Govella, Leisa Reichelt, Dan Harrelson, yo!
* [Roll Over Gutenberg, Tell McLuhan the News](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/6) – George Kelly
* [The State of Professional Front-End Engineering](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/146) – Nate Koechley (yes, a Yahoo guy, but this is a must-see, trust me)
* [The Future of Presence](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/108) – Bryan Oberkirch
* [Redrum in the Rue Morgue: Collaboration in International Communities](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/642) – Ana Boa-Ventura
* [Build a Site Search Widget](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/477) – Kent Brewster (another Yahoo guy, but again this is not nepotism or logrolling – Kent is the real deal)
* [Social Network Coups: The Users are Revolting!](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/232) – Annalee Newitz
* [Do I have to disappear to get anything done?](a href=”http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/274) – Ryan Freitas
* [English: Technology’s Universal Language](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/481) – the always entertaining and enlightening Kevin Smockler
* [Stop Emailing and Be More Productive](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/52) – Tantek Çelik
Hit me up in the comments if you’d like to recommend another panel or presenter as well.

Build your own search robot at Searchbots

· Searching and Finding, Social Design, The Power of Many, User Experience

a searchbot rampantBack in February, Mark Zeman, Lecturer and Subject Director in Digital Media, College of Creative Arts, Massey University, New Zealand, tipped me off to a search agent research project called Searchbots. I tagged it as something to blog about in my email and then, well, I got busy with my new job.
I’ve finally checked it out. Mark was clever enough to give me short precis of the project:
* Experimental social search engine created as a Masters in Design project.
* Build your own search robot and send it out to search on your behalf.
* Search using tags, location, color and mood, or ask a question.
* Get ongoing personalized reports and feeds.
* Talk to it and feed your Searchbot metadata to keep it alive.
* The more you interact with your Searchbot the better everyone’s results.
* Runs on top of API’s from Google, Yahoo, Digg & del.icio.us and more.
* Cross references popular Digg items with del.icio.us tags.
* Building an artificial intelligence using people’s common sense and clicks.
* 34,000+ Searchbots built.
* Interactive tag clouds & other metadata games to play with your Searchbot.
* Get your unique tag cloud plus your Searchbot printed on a tee-shirt.
* Your Searchbots finds facts and entertainment. Mix it up.
* Diligently retrieving the best of the Internet for the good of humanity.
Here are the questions (to users) the research is designed to address:
* Does personifying the search interface increase the motivation of
users to contribute metadata?
* Will users become attached to their Searchbots through ongoing
interaction and therefore be willing to play metadata games to keep it
alive?
* Will using mythology and game theory help make searching an active
give-and-take relationship? Will this sustain an open-content social
search engine?
* Would you rather fill out a basic form or talk to a Searchbot? An
agent that works on your behalf to wade through search results.
* How will users respond to creatively tagging the web? If I search for
the color red will I find a website about tomatoes, communism or angry
people?
* How would you define your ongoing “relationship” with your search
engine? Does it endlessly talk in your ear or just drip-feed you good
clues?
Mark said he was planning to run a survey of users so if he notices this post, he can chime in and let us know “some of the findings on how personifying the interface effects users motivation levels.”