IA Summit 2011: Friday (1 of 3)

IA Summit 2011 was a huge success. The sessions focused on improving skill sets, analytics, cognitive persuasion, holistic experience, and the new world order- helping Information Architects “play nice” and coexist with the rest of the workforce in an agile environment. Each and every world-famous host and attendee worked on helping each other, and me personally, get closer to the acme of perfection. My most humble appreciation goes to Justin Davis, Eric Reiss, Jonathon Colman, Louis Rosenfeld, and the rest of the presenters who also found time for personal attention…
It is hard to summarize the amazing and already succinct presentations, let alone great hallway discussions we had, but I have to try, out of mere respect and, if for nothing else, to persuade you to read more about their respective slides and websites.

Consider these to be simple “notes”- some paraphrasing might occur, and the message coming from me could really be erroneous altogether, but by all means, please, disagree and go read the originals…
Nate Silver, the “analytics guru”, focused his keynote on the assembly of data- specifically proper usage and analysis. The rule of 80/20 gives you 80% results from a mere 20% input, which is most certainly enough for most of us. Go for low quantity but high quality- while too low of a quantity may lead to errors, the quality of the data should help with such outliers. Forecast predictions based on “past events”- this is real world so don’t overfit (too specific to the data, trying to fit the noise) and work with ranges (i.e. to be on time in an airport, you might want to be a little early). Observe patterns and use intuition, prepare to be able to handle the truth. Start small and grow- build a salad from different ingredients.
Book to read: Expert political judgment: The fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing– to be a good analyzer, one must learn more by studying new things, rather than more of the same.

The great international trio of Andrea Resmini, Jorge Arango, and Andrew Hilton, gave a great introduction to cognition- what we “perceive” is physical/spatial cognition. Choose the path of least resistance- accommodate behavior, do not engineer it… Remember that business is a user too. Architects work with physical forces and therefore are responsible for long term support, so IAs are something more as well- they are responsible for connecting the forces, and as such, the coordination.
Book to read: How Firms Succeed

Joanna Markel, Serena H. Rosenhan, and Chris Farnum from ProQuest walked through their path to Agility, and offered a number of suggestions to those who are just starting, or possibly already struggling, in such an environment. Work with known requirements, focus on needs and not wants, and be open to redesigning and recoding the release (aka dirty deliverable) – this will give you the ability to make mistakes faster, and thus, perfect at each stage. Work on the basics, then enhancements, and then the embellishments.
This was an eye opener for a number of professionals in the audience, and was without a doubt of much interest to me as well.

By far, one of the most futuristic sessions was Samantha Starmer’s Create Successful Cross-Channel Experiences, where she focused on showing benefits of cross merging the domains and channels (ie offline (physical) and online (digital), mobile and desktop, department A and department B, etc), thereby producing a holistic experience. Designing across mediums helps improve experience and make it more logical, after all – customers don?t think in departments, divisions, technology.

  1. Convenient
  2. Consistent
  3. Connected
  4. Contextual
  5. Across Time
  1. Think in terms of services
  2. Share the sandbox
  3. Start walking
  4. (Find) comfort in discomfort
  1. Document
  2. Experience mapping
  3. Get behind scenes
  4. Tell a story
  5. Cross train

The typographic and extremely entertaining show by Carl Collins reminded everyone about the need for communication through proper words and not mere visuals. The must-see presentation by Carl includes a Venn diagram that cross-links word, code, and design.
References: Copy as Interface and Little Big Detail.

Stephen Anderson’s The Stories We Construct reinforces the message of positive cognation theory and embodied cognition mentioned earlier. Stephen reminds us that stories drive behavior and explains the importance of storytelling in priming- preparing the brain. Stories are reality for our brains, and thus lead to decisions, so putting things and classifying experiences into context lets us construct.
References: You can order a deck of 50 reference cards by Stephen Anderson from his website Get Mental Notes