Interaction11 – Wednesday

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Interaction11 conference in Boulder, CO, with my co-worker Caitlin. Instead of trying to cover it all in one or even two posts I’ve decided to break it out by day lest the sheer amount of notes I’m seeking to parse into this becomes overwhelming.

On to Wednesday.

We actually set out to Boulder for the conference on Tuesday, which turned from a nice 8 hour travel day to something around 14 hours with a flight delay leading to a missed flight and then sub-zero whiteness in Denver on our arrival correlating to a late bus. I can now tell you from experience that walking 4 blocks with luggage in the slush and sub-zero temps with a Manhattener in the lead is really not the best way to go. Should I ever again face this situation I’m getting a cab. Anyway, we made it. I’ll leave Tuesday at that.

After a nice, full night of sleep we headed downstairs to acquire our badges (accompanied with some lovely swag) and headed over to the first workshop of the day – ‘Self-Ethnography, Collaboration & Play’ with Sara Summers of Microsoft. Of course, the first thing she asked was why we chose that workshop of our options for the morning, which falls into the data set known as ‘details I’ve ceased recalling’.

So what is self-ethnography? With Sara at the helm we boiled it down into 5 things:
– Empathy
– Observation of ourselves using things
– Emotional Intelligence
– Self-awareness
– Self-regulation

One example given of this was Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario Bros, who took inspiration from his own childhood memories to create the most lucrative and game-changing video game to date. His whole philosophy was to recreate the wonderment of being a child. Obviously that resonated and still resonates with his users.

As we continued with a discussion on the balance of creativity and our work lives a couple of notes that jumped out at me were the idea that creative work should be like traveling to a foreign country and that while planning is good we should remain open to those unplanned experiences as they are often the most interesting.

I also really enjoyed her analogy of describing bad UX as a bug to developers; a concept which we plan to start implementing in our workplace now that we’re back.

Our session was closed out with a collaborative thinking project. We were asked to write down the best business idea and worst start-up idea that we could think of. As I’m sure you can see coming, she tore off the good ones and had each table grouping choose (without looking) a bad one which we had a ½ hour to develop a business plan for presentation to a group of venture capitalists otherwise known as our peers.

Our business idea – an interface you interact with via smell.

Thusly Analyscent was born.

Here’s our new friend Phillip presenting our business:

Yes, I realize that the video is sideways. I haven’t yet had a chance to convert and flip it.

Caitlin was also kind enough to grab photos of some of our presentation materials and share them.

After grabbing lunch with several of our new friends, I headed back to Boulder Digital Works for an afternoon session with other IxDA local leaders. While I picked up a lot of great information and ideas for our local IxDA group as well as learning a good bit more about local groups globally (and the amazing rate at which they are growing), the best part of the afternoon session was the opportunity to connect with other people involved with leading local groups including one person from my own state I hadn’t met yet. I’m really looking forward to the collaboration efforts that are already starting to come from that relationship building.

After a relatively short trip to the bar with the group, several of us split off to enjoy some Cheesecake Factory for dinner (we don’t have one in Michigan) where we learned a little more about the local wildlife, perhaps more than made some of the group comfortable. Thankfully, I don’t think Justin had to try out his cat calming skills with any of the local mountain lions while in the area.

The evening closed out with karaoke at Juanita’s. For all of you who were there an didn’t go – you missed out on a lot of fun.

Looking back over the conference as a whole, one of the things I find interesting is that the people that we met on Wednesday ended up being a good portion of those who we bonded with and spent a good amount of time with as the week progressed. That is not to say that we didn’t meet or hang out with more people, just that many of those who I really see myself remaining in touch with were in that group and I am glad that we took part in those optional workshops and activities of the day.

Recommended Reading from the Day:

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connective Age by Clay Shirky

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nick Carr
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book by Linda Barry