The Information Architecture Institute
A conference on designing
complex information spaces of all kinds.
New York City, October 4 and 5, 2007

Archive for cities

Sylvia Harris’s slides on Wayfinding at New York Presbyterian Hospital


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Inspired by this presentation by Sylvia Harris, I went out and did some field research at two hospitals in my Charlotte neighborhood.

Carolinas signage

I found that both organizations were doing a fine job of planning the information architecture and experience design of external signage and supporting materials for visitors and patients. Only a few signs reminded me of the New York Presbyterian Hospital before Sylvia’s help.

don't try to bring your cat to the hospital

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WSJ has one answer to the “what the hell do we call ourselves?” question…


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In our last hour at IDEA on Friday we all moved close to the stage and sat in the front rows in Tishman Auditorium at Parsons New School of Design. We talked about the experience shared and knowledge created at IDEA 2007. This whiteboard summarized the concepts and discussions that flowed from two great days of talks by some of the foremost designers, information architects, and researchers in the field.

Bullet point number three from our concluding discussion is “what the hell do we call ourselves?” — this topic continues to be a recurring theme in IA circles and was touched upon in the pre-conference workshops with David Bishop and Paul Gould from MAYA Design.

Wayfinders was the answer provided by this Wall Street Journal article today (free access for 7 days). While it focuses on the work of a single firm in designing user experiences at airports around the country. The firm mentioned in the article, Carter & Burgess, describes itself as a full-service, multi-disciplined, consulting firm offering services in planning, engineering, architecture, construction management, and related areas. Not as succinct as the one word Journal description for sure.

Thank you to all who attended IDEA 2007, and if you couldn’t make it to NYC last week, I hope you’ll plan to attend in 2008. Stay tuned to this blog for location and date information. Additionally, we will be posting podcasts from the conference soon, and slides from speakers as they release them for publication. In the meantime, for more IDEA 2007 photos, check out our official Flickr group and photo collections from various artists.

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Storytelling in the City: An Interview with Jake Barton


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JakeTelling stories to strangers is not something that most people seek to do. But finding these stories, encouraging them from people in unlikely scenarios, and making the experience enjoyable, is exactly what Jake Barton aims to do.

Barton, through his design studio Local Projects, seeks to encourage the telling of stories in public spaces. In projects that account for high-tech, low-tech, and everything in between, his studio is currently working on projects from the a cellphone tour of the Statue of Liberty to a memorial of the September 11th attacks. And many of the projects happen in Barton’s own backyard—New York City.

IDEA talked with Barton about his work in New York, and some of his plans for the upcoming conference.

IDEA Q: Is it important for you to be here, in New York, doing the work that you do? Does the city itself provide a backdrop or inspiration?

Personally, I think New York is a phenomenal place to make participatory media, as the urban experience is about collective participation—with its crowded streets, with dense clusters of activity from hot dog vendors to hip-hop groups. I especially like that “normalizing” of behavior (i.e., yelling at other New Yorkers) is typical—it makes the New York experience one that is contingent on sharing with others.

IDEA Q: As a resident of New York yourself, what’s it like to have to use the experiences you design (passing by the Story Corps Booth in Grand Central Terminal, for example)?

Its really gratifying. Local Projects’ name comes from the classic Tip O’Neill quote that all politics is local. For us, design is local, steeped in the specific conditions and challenges of a site, client, or audience.

By building things in our hometown, we get consistent feedback and response, and can gauge how the projects and their meanings evolve over time. I’ve gotten “shushed” more than once in my own movies, and its very heart-warming.

IDEA Q: Where do you look for inspiration or direction outside the field of design?

Well, it depends on what you consider design, but mostly I listen to the radio. “RadioLab” from WNYC is a brilliant communicator—The Simpsons meets NOVA. “This American Life” has a consistent knack for mixing the everyday experience with profound larger meanings. And even though our design work is done, I love “StoryCorps,” each story is a jewel.

IDEA Q: What should the audience remember about your talk when they go back to their desks on Monday morning?

That you need to have a point of view about what you want the audience to do, learn, be, achieve, and dream through your work. And that making design functional and beautiful can be done and done well.

IDEA Q: Can you describe what you’ll be talking about at IDEA in just one word?

Freedom.

~ Liz Danzico

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The IDEA 2007 social network is live on CrowdVine…


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While Social Network Portability is coming soon, for now IDEA conference attendees can join a network just for the conference here: IDEA 2007 on Crowdvine

This is a great place to post your picture and conference related blog feed, flickr photos, del.icio.us links, and more. IDEA attendees can use this social network to meet other people with similar interests, and plan outings in NYC with other IDEA attendees.

Never been to MOMA? Start a thread on Crowdvine and encourage others to join your outing.

Want to try the latest in “molecular mixology” ? Publish a time and location on CrowdVine and befriend others before you show up in NYC.

Anyone can join, and we encourage New Yorkers to provide assistance to those who are coming from out of town on local dining spots, accomodations, and great things to do in the city.

Thanks, and have fun!

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Interview with IDEA attendee Scott Berkun


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I last spoke with Scott Berkun in person at OSCON 2005, just a few months after his first book; “The Art of Project Management” was released. I was working for his publisher, O’Reilly Media then, and we were all a bit surprised at how well Berkun’s book sold in a market filled with books about project management. The reality is, Scott’s years of hands-on experience in designing and leading creative development projects were instrumental in connecting with readers through practical insights. No slacker, Berkun was already bouncing ideas off me and the ORA publisher for his latest book, “The Myths of Innovation“. A Seattle resident, Scott attended IDEA in 2006 and I thought I would take this opportunity to do a short interview with him.

IDEA Q: IDEA brings together designers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to address the challenge of designing complex information spaces. What did you learn about the creative process and innovation at IDEA 2006? Did any of these lessons make it into your new book “The Myths of Innovation”?

Scott: All design is problem solving and IDEA 2006 showcased how storytellers, architects and visual designers share the same challenges: finding new ways to solve problems for people. The myths of innovation book is related, as it explores the patterns of innovation that we often overlook in how new things have come to be. There are definitely strong connections between what designers, and innovators, try to do.

IDEA Q: In recent writings and presentations, you talk about decision-making authority and specifically with regards to the IA, product designer, or usability engineer role in authority over design or usability issues. Can you explain what you mean by this? Is there really that much of a split in your view between being a Decision maker and being a Consultant? Are both roles needed in the innovation process?

Scott: It’s always good to know who in the room is going to call the shot - otherwise everyone spends more time fighting for power than actually trying to solve problems. I think designers can play the decision maker role, but they have to then be willing to incorporate business, political and engineering constraints into their decisions. But yes, both roles are useful. Consultants can take bigger risks in their ideas since the final decision isn’t theirs - it can be empowering not to be final decision maker.

IDEA Q: What was your “ah ha” moment of IDEA 2006?

Scott: The most amazing thing I saw was Cabspotter by the folks at Stamen. Not sure how useful it is, but I was entirely mesmerized.

IDEA Q: Will you be attending the 2007 conference in October in NYC?

Scott: What could be better than NYC in October? I hope to be there.

About Scott Berkun:
Scott is an author, public speaker and consultant. He worked as a manager at Microsoft from 1994-2003, on projects including (v1-5) of Internet Explorer, Windows and MSN.

He started his own consulting practice in 2003. Wrote the best seller “The Art of Project Management” (O’Reilly 2005) and “Myths of Innovation” (O’Reilly 2007). And teaches a graduate course in creative thinking at the University of Washington.

He’s an excellent speaker for hire, and frequently performs workshops, talks, and courses for organizations, conferences and the occasional living room couch.

Scott grew up in Queens NYC, studied design, philosophy and computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, graduating with a B.S. in Logic and Computation (’94). He currently lives somewhere deep in the woods outside of Seattle, Washington.

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Audio and some slides


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We have audio from every talk, and slides from many of them, free for download. Enjoy!

Day 1

Peter Merholz’ Introduction. Slides (PDF), MP3

Linda Stone. No slides, MP3. Questions and answers MP3.

David Guiney, Designing Across Multiple Media for the National Park Service. Slides to come, MP3
David Guiney, Addressing the Challenges of Designing for the National Park Service. Slides to come, MP3.

Dave Cronin, Art for the public: supporting a visitor-directed museum experience. Slides, MP3.

Jake Barton, Interaction Design in a Physical Space. Slides (PDF), MP3. Jake also showed a few movies during his talk: Building Timelapse movie. Jetblue booth movie. Timescapes sample chapter movie.

Ian White, The Design of Data. Slides (PDF), MP3.

Ali Sant, TRACE: Mapping the Emerging Urban Landscape. Slides to come, Part 1 MP3, Part 2 MP3.

Day 2

Stamen Design, Project Work. Slides with no movies (7.37 MB PPT), Slides with movies (164.78MB ZIP), MP3.
Fernanda Viegas, Democratizing Visualization. Slides (PPT), MP3.
Stamen and Fernanda Question and Answer. MP3.

Dan Hill, The New Media. Slides (PDF), MP3.

Next-Generation Libraries panel:

  • Deborah Jacobs, No slides, MP3
  • Ed Vielmetti, No slides, MP3
  • Paul Gould, Slides (PPT), MP3
  • Question and Answer. MP3

Robert Kalin, O Advantageous Interfaces! Slides (on Rob’s site), MP3.

Bruce Sterling, Closing Keynote. No slides. MP3.

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Alison Sant - TRACE: Mapping the Emerging Urban landscape


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Digital networks and wireless technologies are radically reforming the contemporary notions of urban place. As network technologies increasingly become the carriers of geographic annotations, they create an urban dynamic in which our orientation to the city is no longer based purely on static landmarks, but on a notion of the  city in which spatial references may become events. This talk explores the emerging wireless landscape and references TRACE, a collaborative mapping project created by Alison Sant, to examine the interplay of wireless networks with the corporeal experience of the urban landscape.

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Next-Generation Libraries Panel


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PANEL STATEMENT:
Libraries, long considered stodgy dusty places for books, are experiencing a renaissance, shifting to become more responsive to their communities and the individuals who use them. This panel will explore the next generation of libraries from three distinct
perspectives:

1. Edward Vielmetti, networking technology pioneer, recently began his Superpatron initiative, an attempt to allow library patrons the ability to engage directly with their library’s technology in order to get the most out of the institution. Ed will talk about his
experience “opening up” libraries covering such topics as:
- how I found the techies at the library
- how RSS feeds change library services
- co-developing a simple protocol, PatREST, w/AADL developer
- Jon Udell’s Library Lookup project
- non-library innovations like Book Burro and LibraryThing
- looking beyond big vendors for innovative ideas

2. Paul Gould, designer from MAYA, was instrumental to the redesign of the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh. This marked a remarkable attempt to design the physical and virtual spaces with the user foremost in mind. Paul will talk about how entities such as libraries can create a framework that provides a common direction and co-evolutionary path for what, although interesting and useful, might otherwise be isolated or divergent efforts. Paul will use examples from MAYA’s work with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to talk about such specifics as user-centered design, information architecture, and organizational change.

3. Deborah Jacobs, City Librarian for Seattle, will discuss the evolving role of the library as a hub for the community it serves, and, naturally, share her experiences with the development of the new Central Library, perhaps the most significant new piece of public
architecture in the last decade.

See the entire program.

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Ian White, Urban Mapper


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I first heard about Ian White because of his Panamaps, city maps that contained layered information visible as you tilt the map.

I had the fortune of meeting him a couple months ago, and he totally geeked out about the design of data for mapping systems. He’s clearly frustrated by Standard Operating Procedures for geospatial data, and is passionate about how the design of *data* leads to better designed experiences. He’s even built a business around it.
The Design of Data is what he’ll be talking about at IDEA. Ian is the latest speaker to be added to the program. He and Ali will make a GIS tag-team!

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Meet Ali Sant!


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I’ve known Ali Sant for 10 years now — she worked at the Exploratorium when I volunteered there after returning to San Francisco.
Here’s what she has to say about the projects she’ll be discussing at IDEA:

TRACE: Mapping the Emerging Urban Landscape
Digital networks and wireless technologies are radically reforming the contemporary notions of urban place. As network technologies move away from their hardwired roots, they are activating an urban dynamic that is  no longer based on referencing static landmarks, but on a notion of the  city in which spatial references become events. These developments imply a changing pattern of urban reference in which invisible boundaries of connectivity alternately thicken or marginalize the urban territories they overlay. TRACE is a project, by artist Alison Sant, that examines the layering of physical space  with the on and off zones of the wireless network. The project seeks to blend the corporeal experience of the city with the invisible qualities of the network, creating a narrative mapping of the hybrid space between them. This mapping is one that challenges purely static notions of public space to promote a temporal logic of the city that reflects the fluctuating character of the wireless network.

Redefining the Basemap
Current collaborative mapping projects using locative media technologies have often overlooked the conventions of the base map as a site for reinvention. Although these projects are ambitious in their aim to propose alternative organizations of urban space through the way it is digitally mapped, they remain bounded by datasets that reinforce a Cartesian and static notion of urban space. This paper questions the methodology of the base map as it is utilized in these projects, and proposes alternative approaches for mapping the city. Specifically, it looks at the city as a space of events, defined by the ways in which it is used rather than the orthogonal geometry by which it is constructed; and highlights several key examples from the history of urban planning and art practice that provide models for such alternative mapping strategies. By focusing on the limitations of the base map, I hope to provoke new ideas for these emerging projects.

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