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Laughter

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I woke up feeling strange this morning. No, it wasn’t the three hours sleep – I know what that feels like. And it wasn’t a hangover – I certainly know what those feel like. It was something quite different and it took me a little while to figure it out.

But it needs some backstory. I was at South by Southwest Interactive this weekend. It is an incredible conference, with lots of smart people and interesting talks, and quite famous for its parties. The SXSW film festival is on at the same time so Austin is packed and there is more than plenty of stuff to do.

I was on a panel with the awesome Nick Finck and Michael Angeles, called ‘Wireframes for the Wicked‘. It was fun to work with them and according to twitter our session went pretty well. Lots of people appreciated that we left half of the time for audience questions and that we actually tracked questions asked via twitter (#wickedwire) and answered them at the time and alongside questions from the floor. 

Immediately following our talk was one by Bruce Sterling. His SXSW rants are famous (his SXSW party at his home also used to be famous), and I’m a big fan of his writing, so this was absolutely mandatory for me. I didn’t realise it would be so hilarious. Via a few wandering twists and turns, he spoke about change. It was a serious topic, and delivered seriously in some sections, but right in the middle he had a Bruce party right there, with crisps and beer and awesome cookies. His delivery is amazing and his timing is just perfect – he had the audience roaring with laughter (or was that just me).

With that over, I grabbed my buddy Dan Willis and we went out to dinner. Dan always makes me laugh – I’m still wondering just how mad he really is. But that doesn’t matter because we really can spend a lot of time just talking and laughing.

With the film festival on, we could get into first-showings and Dan suggested we go see ‘Observe and Report‘. I love going to movies without knowing anything about them and that certainly was the case here – I hadn’t heard of the film, the director, the actors and had no idea what it would be about. The lack of expectations can make for an amazing experience and that certainly was the case. This was one of the funniest (and weirdest, and with incredible timing) movies I have seen in a long time. I don’t usually laugh out loud in a theatre but I was laughing and hooting and clapping and so was the rest of the audience. I also don’t usually talk about movies straight after, but Dan and I were laughing and cracking the best lines all the way to the next part of the evening – the Blue Flavor party.

When the bar closed and we were all pushed out the door, as happens every morning at 2am in Austin, Dan, myself, Matt Balara and Ola hung around for another hour or so just shooting the crap, talking about everything and nothing and laughing a lot.

So can you pick up the thread here and know why I woke up feeling strange. I spent about 10 hours straight laughing. Laughing in Bruce Sterling’s talk, laughing with Dan, laughing at the movie, standing ’round on the street laughing with friends.

And I still have a big ball of laughter glowing inside me. It feels incredible and amazing and wonderful and I can’t wait to do it some more…

UX Australia: August 2009

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

I’ve been annoying my friends by hinting at a secret project underway. Sorry guys, but I’m glad I’m finally able to tell you.

The big secret is that we (me, Andrew Boyd, Steve & Danielle Baty) have been doing the initial planning for a user experience conference, to be held in late August in Canberra (Australia).

I think it goes without saying that I’m really excited. I’m excited to be involved in conference planning again, and excited to be able to arrange a conference for my community.

One of the things I’m happiest about is that it will be a proposal-based community conference (ie one where anyone can submit a proposal, and the community reviews to help select the program). Don’t get me wrong, I love conferences with professional, high profile speakers; but I also love the homey feeling of a community conference where you get to contribute to who presents what.

The other thing that we are going to be doing, and this will get started later in the year, is running workshops. I haven’t been able to run my own workshops as often as I’d like in Australia, so hope to do that more. And we’ll be inviting other folks to teach practical full-day workshops. If there’s someone you’d like to see, or a topic you’d like to see covered, let me know and we’ll see what we can do.

Anyway, that’s the news. I hope you’re almost as excited as I am!

Is the Australian IA community a clique?

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

I’ve just been away for a week at two of my favourite conferences - OzIA and Web Directions.But this post isn’t quite about that…

I read some of the feedback from OzIA on the weekend. And one comment stuck out and worried me a bit. The comment was along the lines that my talk seemed silly (which I can deal with) and cliquey (which worries me).

Now I know that a couple of times I mentioned folks in the audience by name. I know that I know a decent proportion of the crowd. And there definitely is a group of IA folks in both Canberra and Sydney who see each other regularly, hang out together, eat together and even do non-IA stuff together.

But it worries me that it may be seen as a clique. Something that has an in-crowd and an out-crowd. I worry that it might look like there is an in-crowd that doesn’t want to involve other people, because that’s just not the case.

Those of us who do hang out together do so partly because we have gotten involved in something. We’ve been to conferences together, attended IA meet-ups together and volunteered together. We’ve discussed the future of IA and what it all means over drinks. That crowd has built up over time and changes over time. There is no membership and no secret handshake. It is just a bunch of folks with a shared interest.

So, please. If it looks to you like there is an IA clique that you are not involved in, just get involved. Here’s how:

We aren’t an exclusive clique and we really do love getting to know other people who do IA.

Murrumbateman website redesign

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

I just finished a piece of work I’m quite proud of – a redesign of the Murrumbateman community website (this is my local physical community).

I’ve evolved this site over the last few years, adding in new events as they came up, changing the html structure for each as I built it and other things that were getting hard to manage.

So I rebuilt it with a consistent approach and styles and redesigned the home page and community section.

Next job is to rebuild it into a CMS and hand authorship out to the members…

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.

IA Summit

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

I’ve been working flat out as program chair for the IA Summit. So much has happened in the past few weeks:

And I think it is time to have a rest.

(Of course, none of this is my work alone – just look at how many people are involved.)

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Other exciting news – IAI board

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

My other exciting news – this week I was voted on to the board of the IAI (Information Architecture Institute). I’m very much looking forward to this – it is a great organisation full of smart, passionate people and I feel completely honoured to be able to be a board member for the next two years.

Welcome to the Web Industry Professionals Association

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Here is some exciting news – a new organisation called the Web Industry Professionals Association (of Australia). At this point in time I can imagine a lot of great things could come from a group like this, particularly if we can manage to harness some great volunteer energy. Congratulations!