What I did at (info)camp

October 16, 2009

Last weekend I went to Seattle for InfoCamp, an unconference put together by a group of IA/UX/IxD/Library folks. I could only stay for the Saturday session, and due to my (ahem) directional challenges, I got there later than I would have liked. No matter: the day was absolutely inspiring. I spent it having great conversations with some very smart and creative people, and I’ll be chewing over the ideas they sparked for weeks to come.

So, it turns out Seattle is north of Portland these days. Weird. I missed the first half of Axel Roseler‘s keynote, which was too bad. He has interesting things to say about design, creativity, and process. A designer is someone who predicts the future, he said, and illustrated with examples of some pretty radical rethinkings of airplane cockpit and wayfinding interactions.

I was pretty sure I had missed my calling until I followed up the keynote with a session on service design. Service design involves applying design skills to real-world user experience and information systems. For example, making the DMV experience work for the customer, or streamlining processes across agencies. Coming from more of an information architecture than a user experience background, the first thing about it that most appeals to me is how it can be used to pull together a mishmash of accidental systems into a cohesive whole. But listening to a roomful of talented user experience practitioners made me realize how little I know about that world, and how much I should be learning about it and incorporating it into my work.

The service design conversation really took off. You could have spent your entire Saturday at various follow up sessions, and the people who organized it have plans to find a service design project to do in Seattle. I was too tempted by the other offerings to specialize. I wound up at permaculture design for social media sites, and a brainstorming session on integrating taxonomies and social media into corporate intranets.

Both of these left me with a lot of ideas zinging around my brain, and I’ll post about some of them in the next few days. In the meantime, who wants to put together InfoCamp PDX? I don’t think I can wait a whole year to do this again.

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