Reboot notes

It’s been qui­et here late­ly. Even the del.icio.us links have dried up. The rea­son: I have been fran­ti­cal­ly prepar­ing my talk for Reboot. It’s near­ing com­ple­tion, and I’m pret­ty sat­is­fied. Look­ing for­ward to deliv­er­ing it to the cool peo­ple in Copen­hagen.

Some notes:

  • My slot has been announced. It’s on thurs­day the 31st, start­ing 12:20 in ‘the box’ (inter­est­ing name for a room, hope­ful­ly it’s not too descrip­tive).
  • Nicole Simon has inter­viewed me as part of her pod­cast series for Reboot. It should be up any time now. Hear me bab­ble inco­her­ent­ly about why I think games & play are such inter­est­ing areas for design­ers. Update: the inter­view is now online!
  • Guy Dick­in­son has been so kind to invite me for his micro-pre­sen­ta­tion ses­sion. I’ll be in the one dur­ing the evening ‘hap­pen­ing’, so you can all drink and talk while look­ing at the pret­ty pic­tures in my slides.

It’s going to be an amaz­ing two days. See you all there!

See me talk on mobile social play at Reboot 9.0

I got awe­some news the oth­er day: my pro­pos­al for a talk at Reboot 9.0 has been accept­ed. I’m very hon­oured (and a lit­tle ner­vous) to be pre­sent­ing at a con­fer­ence with so many smart atten­dees. Now to get my act togeth­er and cre­ate a kick-ass pre­sen­ta­tion.

If you have any­thing relat­ed to this (pret­ty broad) top­ic that you’d want me to address, please do leave a note in the com­ments.

One thing’s for sure: I’ll try to build upon what has gone before at pre­vi­ous Reboots, such as Ben Cerveny’s mind-blow­ing overview (MP3) of how play is essen­tial­ly becom­ing a new lan­guage for us to com­mu­ni­cate with and TL Taylor’s great talk on the dynam­ics of vir­tu­al worlds.

What I will be address­ing is still slight­ly unclear to me, but the direc­tion I’m head­ed is:

  1. Games can be social play, which means they can be used to forge and exper­i­ment with social rela­tions in a ‘safe’ way. This hap­pens whether you design for it or not, but can be nur­tured.
  2. When games go mobile, the bor­ders of the space and time in which a game is played are blurred. In this way, games bleed over into cul­ture in a grad­ual way.

Enough to chew on for one talk, I guess. Again, any ques­tions, com­ments and sug­ges­tions are more than wel­come. See you all at Reboot 9.0.

Interface design — fifth and final IA Summit 2007 theme

(Here’s the fifth and final post on the 2007 IA Sum­mit. You can find the first one that intro­duces the series and describes the first theme ‘tan­gi­ble’ here, the sec­ond one on ‘social’ here, the third one on ‘web of data’ here and the fourth one on ‘strat­e­gy’ here.)

It might have been the past RIA hype (which accord­ing to Jared Spool has noth­ing to do with web 2.0) but for what­ev­er rea­son, IAs are mov­ing into inter­face ter­ri­to­ry. They’re broad­en­ing their scope to look at how their archi­tec­tures are pre­sent­ed and made usable by users. The inter­est­ing part for me is to see how a dis­ci­pline that has come from tax­onomies, the­sauri and oth­er abstract infor­ma­tion struc­tures approach­es the design of user fac­ing shells for those struc­tures. Are their designs dra­mat­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent from those cre­at­ed by inter­face design­ers com­ing from a more visu­al domain con­cerned with sur­face? I would say: at least a lit­tle…

I par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoyed Stephen Anderson’s pre­sen­ta­tion on adap­tive inter­faces. He gave many exam­ples of inter­faces that would change accord­ing to user behav­iour, becom­ing more elab­o­rate and explana­to­ry or very min­i­mal and suc­cinct. His main point was to start with a gener­ic inter­face that would be usable by the major­i­ty of users, and then come up with ways to adapt it to dif­fer­ent spe­cif­ic behav­iours. The way in which those adap­ta­tions were deter­mined and doc­u­ment­ed as rules remind­ed me a lot of game design.

Mar­garet Han­ley gave a sol­id talk on the “unsexy side of IA”, name­ly the design of admin­is­tra­tion inter­faces. This typ­i­cal­ly involves com­ing up with a lot of screens with many form fields and con­trols. The inter­faces she cre­at­ed allowed peo­ple to edit data that would nor­mal­ly not be acces­si­ble through a CMS but need­ed edit­ing nonethe­less (prod­uct details for a web shop, for instance). Users are accus­tomed to think­ing in terms of edit­ing pages, not edit­ing data. The trick­i­est bit is to find ways to com­mu­ni­cate how changes made to the data would prop­a­gate through a site and be shown in dif­fer­ent places. There were some inter­est­ing ideas from the audi­ence on this, but no def­i­nite solu­tion was found.

links for 2007-05-04

Strategy — fourth of five IA Summit 2007 themes

(Here’s the fourth post on the 2007 IA Sum­mit. You can find the first one that intro­duces the series and describes the first theme ‘tan­gi­ble’ here, the sec­ond one on ‘social’ here and the third one on ‘web of data’ here.)

Like oth­er design dis­ci­plines, IAs are typ­i­cal­ly brought in to solve a prob­lem. The extent to which the design prob­lem is defined and expli­cat­ed is a huge deter­min­ing fac­tor in the suc­cess of their under­tak­ing. More often than not, an IA would take a prob­lem and run with it, not think­ing whether this is the right prob­lem to solve, or even a prob­lem at all!

This has always seemed like a sil­ly sit­u­a­tion to me. Some of the most enjoy­able ses­sions at the sum­mit there­fore were the ones that dis­cussed ways in which IAs can join in on strate­gic think­ing. This way, we can help dis­cov­er the actu­al prob­lem that needs solv­ing, which gives us a bet­ter chance of actu­al­ly deliv­er­ing a suc­cess­ful and valu­able solu­tion.

Gene Smith and Matthew Milan dis­cussed con­cep­tu­al mod­els (which I’ve been play­ing around with for a while) and the more involved rich map­ping, from soft sys­tems think­ing. Key take­away for me was when mod­el­ling a sys­tem we should also describe its con­text (includ­ing the project itself). Oth­er good stuff by peo­ple of Crit­i­cal Mass (Milan again togeth­er with Sam Lad­ner) was pro­vid­ed in the form of ‘back­cast­ing’, a very visu­al brain­storm­ing method to be used in a work­shop ses­sion with a client in order to envi­sion desired project out­comes and map paths from the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion to those out­comes (notes at The Chick­en Test).

Peo­ple from Avenue A Razor­fish (Gar­rick Schmitt, Marisa Gal­lagher) talked about their frame­work for tying togeth­er lots of dif­fer­ent user research such as click stream analy­sis, search logs, eye track­ing and oth­ers. This remind­ed me of Jared Folkmann’s excel­lent talk at last year’s Euro IA Sum­mit in Berlin.

Final­ly, I attend­ed one nice talk (by James Robert­son) on the val­ue of con­tex­tu­al enquiries, which if noth­ing else has made me all the more deter­mined to try this myself the next time an oppor­tu­ni­ty presents itself.

links for 2007-05-03

links for 2007-05-02