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.
- 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.
- 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!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
(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.
(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.