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Archive for May, 2007

Conferences galore

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

A bunch of conferences have been announced or floated by my radar recently. Some I can attend, some I can just dream about …

Conferences I’m going to:

  • Web directions (Sep 25-28): I missed the first, but have been to the last two. My favourite Australian conference and the one my Australian web buddies will all be at
  • Oz-IA (Sep 22&23): this year will be on the weekend before Web Directions (which is good as my brother is marrying the weekend after). This goes without saying.
  • cmf2007 (Nov 6-8): I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but I’m speaking at cmf2007 in Denmark in November. I’m really looking forward to it – my first Europe trip!

And the ones I can’t make it to:

  • dConstruct (Sep 7): I’ve listened enviously to the podcasts for the past two years and so wish I could go. It would be even more awesome this year as the theme is user experience
  • EuroIA (Sep 21-22): It is IA, it’s in Spain, and full of smart people … ’nuff said
  • IDEA: few details yet, but it is at the beginning of October and will have as great a lineup as last year
  • Connecting: Oh, I wish. I know this would make my brain pop.

Finally – true freelance

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Although I’ve been saying that I ‘freelance’ for a while, I really haven’t been doing it. I sometimes fall back on longer projects and get deeply embedded in a project (at a comparatively low rate). This hiding in my comfort zone was part of the change I wanted to make following the IA Summit.

But for the past few weeks I have truly been doing freelance work. I’ve designed interfaces for a company in New Zealand, done content migration plans for a Government Department, planned & conducted a remote usability test, edited new content for a website, designed & built a website for a friend, and updated content for a community event. I also caught up with a bunch of writing work and other community work and lectured at university.

Gosh it has been good. Where some people like stability, I love variety. I genuinely like starting each week wondering what I’m going to do. I love setting my weekly must-dos and try-to-get-to. I love rubbing things off the whiteboard.

I’m still doing good, deep work. I still have money in the bank. And I have time for non-paid work.

All is good.

PS. Three weeks ago I mentioned that I didn’t sign a continuation contract that meant I would start work without a rate increase. The paperwork didn’t end up happening and rumor is that the rate increase wouldn’t have happened. Wow, that was the right decision.

Absorbing information from other fields

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

In the past week or so I’ve come across many situations where a comment or question has been posed by someone in ‘our field’, and someone has responded from a related field. Unfortunately the comment from the relation has been something like “I can’t believe your field doesn’t know that – we’ve known it and have been writing about it for years”.

It always comes across in that condescending tone – the tone that says ‘gosh, I can’t believe how stupid you all are’.

Although I understand how this happens – you can be so deeply involved in what you know that you can’t believe other people don’t know it – it is unfair, unrealistic and conceited to to expect everyone to chase your precious knowledge. In many cases people don’t even know your field is interested, in some cases they don’t know how you describe it, in some cases you just haven’t made your information easily available.

But gosh, there is so much to know. I have been doing information architecture and interaction design work for seven years, professionally, non-stop. I have done many projects, studied, taught and mentored. I have read hundreds of books on many topics. I regularly read stack of blogs. And every single day I find something new that would help me do my work and that I wish I knew before (e.g. last week Andrew told me about Peter Drucker, but he didn’t make me feel small about it). It is just not possible to know everything relevant.

So if you see someone naively interested in something you already know there are two ways to tackle it. You can take the self-centred view and get huffy about the fact that these idiotic people don’t know what you know; or you can take a user-centred view and look at how you (or your field) has communicated and made information available, then do something to fix that (yes, that was the leadingest* answer I have ever written).

And guess what – you can also politely help the person who is keen to know about your area of speciality. Given them some decent resources to follow up and some smart people to talk to. Use their enthusiasm to spread the word in their field.

Your word will get out, you can stop feeling superior and the world will be a smarter place.

(* leadingest is not a word, but for some reason it makes me feel like Bruce Sterling)

WIPA website & membership launch

Monday, May 7th, 2007

I am so proud to be a part of WIPA – the Web Industry Professionals Association (of Australia). While we launched the association late last year, today we launched a new website and the ability to join as a member.

Here’s our official announcement:

The new WIPA site was launched today.

The recently established Web Industry Professionals Association (WIPA) aims to foster the development of the Web Industry in Australia and provide forums where people who work in all the different facets of the industry can come together and exchange ideas.

Australian web professionals can now join WIPA through the new site.

WIPA is not just for one web practice or section of the industry. WIPA is for all web professionals in Australia including, designers, content writers, information architects, usability and accessibility specialists, web developers, interface developers, online content producers etc. In short, anyone who works in the business and who has an interest in discussing, promoting and improving the work we do.

WIPA is a not for profit association incorporated in NSW. Although the incorporation is in NSW, the association is committed to promoting and representing the work of web professionals throughout Australia. As a clear demonstration of this commitment, the Association Rules provide for representation on the Management Committee from all States and Territories with more than 5 WIPA Members. Also, the position of Vice-President is reserved for a person who does not live in NSW. The current WIPA Management Committee has members from the ACT, NSW and Victoria.

There is a variety of other web-related groups in Australia including, the Web Standards Group, Usability Professionals Association, Oz-IA, AWIA, Mobile Monday and AIMIA. WIPA aims to work cooperatively with all other groups in helping to develop a cohesive and sustainable web industry in Australia.

For more information about WIPA and to join the association visit
http://wipa.org.au/

So please come join us – I think together we can do amazing things for the Australian web industry.