Oh, the places I will go

Posted: Fri, April 29, 2016 - 12:26:09

Over the decades conferences, symposia, webinars, and summits all have formed critical portions of my professional development. I learned about controlled vocabularies and usability testing and the viscosity of information and personas and information visualization and so much more from attending two- or three-day events—and even local evening presentations from peers and leaders alike, all centered on this thing of user experience.

So along with dogwood blossoms and motorcycling weather, the conference season blooms anew. This year finds me focusing on three events, with the anticipation of meeting up with friends both met and as-yet unknown.

The Information Architecture Summit
May 4–8, 2016, Atlanta, GA

I’ve attended all but two of the summits since its inception at the Boston Logan Hilton in 2000. That year, the summit saw itself as a needed discussion and intersection point between the information-design-oriented (and predominately West Coast) information architects and the library-science-oriented East Coasters. 

When it began, at the ebbing of the wave of the dotcom headiness, the American Society of Information Science (and, later, Technology) decided to hold the summit only over the weekend and in an airport hotel, to reduce the impact of folks having to miss work. We had so much to do back then, didn’t we?

As it grew, the IA Summit has expanded the days of the core conference as well as adding several days of workshops before the summit itself.

Because I’ve attended all but two summits (2003 and 2004), I know a lot of the folks who have woven in and out of its tapestry. So, for me, this event is as important for inspiration from seeing who’s doing what and catching up with people as it is in learning from sessions.

But learning is a core component; last year’s summit in Minneapolis reignited an excitement for IA through Marsha Haverty’s “What We Mean by Meaning” and Andrew Hinton’s work on context and embodied cognition. 

So expect both heady bouts with science, technology, philosophy, and practicing work in IA. Oh, and come see me speak on Sunday, if ya’d like.

Then there’s the Hallway, where the conference really takes place. From conversations to karaoke, from game night to the jam, the IA Summit creates a community outside the confines of the mere conference itself.

Enterprise User Experience
June 8–10, 2016, in San Antonio, TX

Last year’s inaugural Enterprise UX conference took me and much of the UX world by storm: a much-needed conference focused on the complexity of enterprise approaches to user experience. Two days of a single-tracked session event followed by a day of optional workshops provided great opportunities for learning, discussion, and debate. 

Dan Willis highlighted a wonderfully unique session showcasing eight storytellers rapidly telling their personal experiences in at once humorous, at once poignant ways. 

This year, luminaries such as Steve Baty from Meld Studios in Sydney, MJ Broadbent from GE Digital, and Maria Giudice from Autodesk will be among a plethora of great speakers.

These themes guide the conference this year:

  • How to Succeed when Everyone is Your User
  • Growing UX Talent and Teams
  • Designing Design Systems
  • The Politics of Innovation

Plus, the organization of the conference is simply stellar. Props to Rosenfeld Media for spearheading this topic!

October 24–26, 2016, in Charlottesville, VA

This conference is as much of a labor of love and devotion to the field of UX in EDU as anything. Also, I’ve been involved since its inception: The first year I was an attendee, the second year a speaker, and ever since I’ve been involved in programming and planning. So, yeah, I’ve a vested interest in this conference.

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities’ (VFH) Web Communications Officer Trey Mitchell and former UVA Library programmer Jon Loy were sitting around one day, thinking about conferences such as the IA Summit, the Interaction Design Association’s conference, Higher Ed Web, and other cool UX-y conferences and thought, “Why don’t we create a conference here in Virginia that we’d wanna go to?”

Well, there’s a bit more to the story, but they created a unique event focused on the .edu crowd—museums, universities, colleges, libraries, institutes, and foundations—while also providing great content for anyone in the UX space.

As the website says, “edUi is a concatenation of ‘edu’ (as in .edu) and ‘UI’ (as in user interface). You can pronounce it any way you like. Some people spell it out like “eee dee you eye” but most commonly we say it like “ed you eye.”

Molly Holzschlag, Jared Spool, and Nick Gould stepped onto the podia in 2009, among many others. Since then, Trey and company have brought an amazing roster of folks. 

For the first two years, the conference was in Charlottesville. Then it moved to Richmond for four years. Last year it returned to Charlottesville and Trey led a redesign of the conference. From moving out of the hotel meeting rooms and into inspiring spaces along the downtown Charlottesville pedestrian mall to sudden surprises of street performers during the breaks, the conference became almost a mini festival where an informative conference broke out.

This year proves to continue in that vein. So if a 250-ish conference focused on issues of UX that lean toward (but aren’t exclusively) .edu-y sounds interesting…meet me in Charlottesville.

Posted in: on Fri, April 29, 2016 - 12:26:09

Joe Sokohl

For 20 years Joe Sokohl has concentrated on crafting excellent user experiences using content strategy, information architecture, interaction design, and user research. He helps companies effectively integrate user experience into product development. Currently he is the principal for Regular Joe Consulting, LLC. He’s been a soldier, cook, radio DJ, blues road manager, and reporter once upon a time. He tweets at @mojoguzzi and blogs at Joe Sokohl is Principal of Regular Joe Consulting, LLC
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