Viewing all ideas posted by Jesse James Garrett
[UX Week 2012 attendees enjoying lunch outside on one of the workshop days]
We're still putting the finishing touches on the program for UX Week 2013, but here's a taste of what you'll see in San Francisco this August.
First up, some of our keynote speakers:
Steven Johnson is the author of eight bestselling books on science, technology, and culture. His latest are Where Good Ideas Come From, on the creative processes that drive innovation; and Future Perfect, on how networked systems can drive social change.
Brenda Laurel is one of the pioneers in the field of user experience and the author of the classic book The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design.
Ze Frank is a prolific creator of online video series and collaborative art projects. Check out what he has to say about being a creative professional.
In addition to those, here are just a few highlights of the rest of the main stage program:
First of all, I'm a big fan of both your companies, Twitter and Square, and I've always admired what you've had to say in the press about the philosophies and principles underlying those products. That's why I was disappointed to read that you were renouncing the word “user” in favor of “customer” at Square.
You started your post with a dictionary definition of the word “user”. I'd like to start by turning your attention to its root:
[verb] take, hold, or deploy (something) as a means of accomplishing a purpose or achieving a result
You describe “user” as a “passive and abstract word”. But there is nothing passive and abstract about the notion of use. It's about as active and concrete as a concept can get. Look at the words in that definition—solid, tactile words like take, hold, purpose, result.
They're there for good reason. The experience of use is powerful, intimate, primal. For a long time, use was considered to be the defining trait that makes us human. We now know that not to be the case—check out this crow—but use is still absolutely central and fundamental to human experience.
“Customer” is a status someone receives by virtue of having conducted a transaction with you. “User” means something more—a direct engagement with your product or service in a concrete and meaningful way. If anything, “customer” is the abstraction here.
At UX Week 2012, Adaptive Path co-founder Peter Merholz presented a, well, provocative talk called “User Experience Is Strategy, Not Design”. Peter's talk built upon some of my ideas from previous talks and drew on his own observations to assert that framing UX work as design is a misleading disservice to the work itself. Peter has summarized his talk in a blog post on his site.
Shortly after the conference, Peter joined me and veteran interaction designer Jonathan Korman for a roundtable discussion. (No, seriously, the table was actually round!) We talked about the issues raised by Peter's talk, where UX practices do and should reside in organizations, how our history with the field frames our view of it, and how newer practitioners can make sense of the ever-shifting UX landscape.
From the beginning, we didn't want Adaptive Path to be just a consulting firm. We loved attending and speaking at events and saw putting on our own as a great way to share our knowledge, learn from others, and bring our community together.
We started small, with a single two-day workshop in 2001 that we took on tour around the United States in 2002. That went so well we decided to tackle something a little bigger—and UX Week was born.
For the first UX Week in 2003, we stuck to an all-workshop format, but the following year we expanded our scope to include conference-style presentations, including our first guest speakers, such as Doug Bowman and Jason Fried (before he was famous!). This established the basic UX Week formula we've maintained to this day: inspiration through talks about ideas and case studies, plus practical skills-building through hands-on workshops.
Today, we are very excited to announce the launch of iWitness, a free tool for exploring social media content by time and place created by Adaptive Path.
The iWitness concept was one of the winners of last year's Knight News Challenge, an open competition that funds media innovation projects. That funding enabled us to bring in a development partner, New Context, to help turn our concept into a reality.
iWitness, our project to create a tool to aggregate social media by time and place, is now well underway, and we're looking forward to sharing some of our thinking about the design of the tool with you in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, we've asked our development partners at EdgeCase to provide their perspective on the technical side of the process. Here's what Mike Doel, project manager at EdgeCase, had to say:
Let's face it: The great promise of citizen media has not really been fulfilled. News organizations have struggled to find ways to supplement their coverage of news events with contributions from citizens. And finding citizen media related to a news event is currently difficult at best.
Keyword searches and hashtags provide partial solutions, but still do not differentiate between first-person accounts and other kinds of content. And although more and more services allow their content to be geotagged, few tools take advantage of this data in meaningful ways.
That's where we come in. With funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation through the Knight News Challenge, we're building a tool that we call iWitness.
Let's be clear on this point: There would be no Adaptive Path without Peter Merholz. Certainly, after nearly 11 years in business, the company's culture, strategy, and creative direction has been influenced by a lot of folks. But Peter was the one who brought together the original founders to talk about ways we could work together, a conversation that turned into a company.
Ten years ago today, when we launched Adaptive Path, if you had asked me whether we’d still be in business at this point, I would have said, “Sure.” But if you told me the kind of work we’d be doing ten years in, I wouldn’t have believed you.
The field of user experience has evolved so much in the last ten years, and we’ve evolved right along with it. We’ve seen activities like wireframing go from strategic innovations to basic design tactics. We’ve seen organizations shed their skepticism about qualitative research and user behavior…
Well, that was quick. Just four days after opening their public beta, About.me, a startup offering profile pages that centralize all your activity across various popular social sites—and co-founded by former Adaptive Path staffer Ryan Freitas—has already been acquired by AOL. Based on what we’re hearing, AOL has some big plans for About.me. We can’t wait to see where it goes. Congratulations to Ryan and the entire team!