IA Summit 2009 Report

An account of my trip to Memphis, TN. for the Information Architecture Summit, 2009

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21 March 2009


First off, the Peabody Hotel here in Memphis is really nice so I’m glad I’m staying here – even more so because the conference is here and I can jump up to my room if need be. I need to checkout the ducks – this is the hotel you may have seen on the travel channel that parades these ducks through the hotel at tea-time. New batteries needed for the vid camera!

The first session I made today concerned integrating prototypes into the ux workflow – the importance of prototypes of varying typologies and when best to use what type – broadly defined as low-high. These prototypes need to be viewed from different angles – structure, design, content and technology. Very good talk and lots I can bring back MadGENIUS. In particular with some projects on the horizon which will require crucial interactions, I’m hoping to insert this important step into our process asap.

The second session I went to was by a ux principal at a firm called eightshapes.com. Very compelling demonstration of how his firm has engineered an IA deliverable framework using various adobe products – namely InDesign (which i use for my ia work most of the time), photoshop for the design team, and acrobat for deliverable production. What they did is create a modular framework of shared sub-InDesign pieces so the building blocks are in place consequently killing tons of ramp-up time when creating wireframes, sitemaps, screenflows (wireflows).

Lots of very smart, moderately geeky folks here although I can tell i’m not in mississippi anymore because other than the hotel staff, nobody acknowledges anyone else when passing by, and no one says hi :(

Off to lunch, more later…

Afternoon started with a bang. Jared Spool had a great talk on the design and culture behind one of the most successful online businesses, amazon. I subscribe to his newsletter and often venture over to his site to download podcasts etc for lunchtime listening. He’s a really fun personality and knows how to use metrics to tell a story.

After the amazon talk, I headed over to hear christina wodtke, an author and editor I’ve read quite a bit of over the past few years. Her session focused on Business Centric Design.

Then it was onto a session w/ a sapient dc guy (name escapes me) that asserts the need to sometimes do culturally improper things to shake up stakeholders and move forward on a project. The anthropologist in me was a little cynical in his tackling what I thought ws going to be some sort of anti-cultural sensitivity tactic – but in the end he was just talking about shaking up stodgy/engrained corporate culture. It was basically sort of an advocacy for bringing a flashy/unconventional meeting to your clients’ conference room.

The final session this evening was on social interface patters – design patterns for social sites. Good start – lots more to do on this topic as the base of examples for exploration remains quite small. I sort of felt as though they were empiricising the obvious and then using only a couple sites as references. That being said, I learned tons about how the many widgets we’ve become accustomed to can solve user and business problems as it relates to the social web…

After the conference ended, I headed over to Dyers – an old school burger joing on beale street. At haskins’ recommendation, I ordered a triple combo. Dyers is famous for 2 things. The first is the fact that they have a vat of oil dating back some 60 years. The second is that they actually cook their burgers in that oil. So what we’re talking about is a burger that is deepfried in 60 year oil. The verdict? Greasy. Yummy. Don’t need to eat another again.

Night night time for me. Not sure what the agenda holds for tomorrow. Depending on how things go, I may be leaving here a little early to get back and put in a couple hours before monday morning…

Rube out for Sat night.


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