IA Summit Day Two Recap

After a fantastic first day that felt like it just flew past Day Two of the IA Summit brought even more wonderful ideas as well as the IA Slam.

Unicorn Institute (Jared Spool)

Having donated to the Kickstarter campaign I was curious to learn a bit more about the mission of the Unicorn Institute - officially now called the Center Centre. Based out of Chatanooga, TN, it will train approximately 35 students per class in a variety of skills to prepare them to fill the need for information architects and user experience professionals. Three week intensive classes will better simulate the flow of working in real projects. 

More information on the program is available at the Unicorn Institute blog.

Designing for Shades of Grey (Miles Rochford)

Post coffee break came a thought provoking discussion on how we, as designers, can assist people in making sense of a ever increasing amount of data. From concerns about privacy to simply making sense of the raw numbers the overall theme was an important one - "Don't lose humanity in the Digital Frontier"

Designing for Villains (David Bloxsom, Donna Lichaw, Eduardo Ortiz, Erik Gibb, and Aviva Rosenstein)

Panel discussions can be a mixed bag even before you learn that the topic is going to be edgy. Amazingly though this set of short talks cut through the juvenile humor to tackle some serious issues that all of us can us in our daily interactions with stakeholders, team members, and other professionals.

The IA Slam

It is always hard to miss presentations by such gifted speakers as Dan Klyn, Veronica Erb, or how to apply lessons from filmmaking to design but the IA Slam is also something not to be missed. A chance to work with others to solve a problem in 45 minutes it throws you outside your comfort zone and forces you to reconsider your approach with every twist.

This year's theme, "A Ghost in the Machine", was a sequel to last year's Slam. The ultimate goal was to help guide creation of a mobile application for speaking to your loved ones "postevent". As usual it was less about the solutions and more about the presentations, interactions with the organizers, and most of all having a fun time.

What's Your Problem (Tami Evnin)

The final session of the day for me was a walkthrough of how to reverse traditional thinking. Rather than developing solutions in need of problems first figure out what exactly your problems are. Only then can you really succeed at affecting change within an organization. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Work as a team. Most importantly, "Ask lots of questions of stakeholders and don't be afraid to accept critique."

Closing Keynote (Paul Dourish)

It is always tough to be sandwiched between presentations and Happy Hour. Paul Dourish managed to make the best of a late afternoon keynote with a talk that I could have listened to for another half hour. Digging into the impact that technology has had on data over the last century he explored the relationships between the physical (index cards, thumb drives, the 'cloud') and the digital (databases which we can arbitrarily sort on any field). This is one of many talks I will have to listen to again to fully absorb the message.