Off the Top: Conference Entries

November 8, 2014

KM World 2014 Wrap

I spent much of this week at KM World 2014 in Washington, DC and the past few days I was working on notes and blog posts for here, but time to get them in readable form and posted wasn’t quite there, so today they became a Personal InfoCloud post, KM World 2014 is a Real Gem.

I had a great time with fantastic people whom I’ve known and people new to me. I spent a lot of time talking about work projects and being back on the consulting side again, but also getting content out and what makes sense with prioritization. I had a lot of great meetings and less formal chats about the state of things as well as trying out some metaphors for framing some things to gage how well they hold up.

I have a lot of snippets to explore and post that have come out of this past week, but I’m digging out of email, notes, snippets, and other things tucked away from this past week.

November 1, 2014

Being Makers

Oh, there is so much great fodder in Dan Hon’s most recent Tiny Letter, but today’s dosage meted out Episode One Hundred and Eighty One: It’s Too Hot; Monitor This is a gem. The piece that really got me going is midway through section “2.0 Monitor This”, as follows:

I’ve been in meetings like this.

I don’t know what the brief would've been. But given that it went to Jam in the first place, I’m sure it was something to do with “let’s do something on social or mobile”. And it's exciting to think, as a creative team, that you've come up with an “app” that can “solve a problem”.

Well, part of the f*cking problem is this: those creative teams have most commonly *never shipped* an “app” or a “service” before. And the skills required in actually making a good application or service are vastly different from those involved in creating compelling creative communications. Because, you know, one of these things is used and the other one isn’t. That’s not to say that good apps and services *can’t* be informed by the kind of taste and direction that informs well-performing advertising creative communications work. But the two things are different!

This is why, for example, good producers try to find people who’ve actually done something in the relevant area before, so you’re not playing a f*cking crap shoot.

Pants on Fire

This scenario is not only creative agencies, but most any non-serious product organization. I see this a ton where people are just guessing the way forward. It doesn’t matter if they are in UX and don’t understand the medium they are working in with any depth (they don’t prototype and can’t build), they are analysts who have never built nor managed a scaled environment and been responsible for it, or are a consultant that never stuck around to be responsible for what they delivered so never learn how to do anything close to properly.

Largely it comes down to depth and experience dealing with things for a long haul. The best experience is not only doing, but being with it long term and responsible for things after they are delivered. The best experience in this set is being the person, or one of the people, whose pants catch on fire when things don’t go well.

These “pants catch on fire” folks are most often gems, particularly if they are keep building and working to innovate and iterate (with all the research and digging for more depth) so to understand it better and get it right. These people are also the ones who can break things down to the “it depends” elements and walk through the questions needed and know what to do with the answers. Far too many want the answers without knowing how to think it through or go through the questions but not understand what the answers mean.

SXSW Started with Makers

A lot of this reminds me of the progressions of South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive. I first went in 2001 to not only listen and learn, but to meet and thank some of the people who helped me deeply by the lessons they learned and shared themselves and by others on shared in the service they offered. I learned much of what I knew in the early web years (1994 to 2001) from people sharing what worked, but also what didnt work (and what they did that didn≱t work in a situation) [I also had relied heavily on my formal learning as a communication major undergrad and public policy (econ and social quant) from grad school]. I wanted to say hello to Jeffrey Zeldman for A List Apart, Jeffrey Veen for Webmonkey and HotWire, and Nathan Shedroff for sharing all they did at Vivid Studio (one of the first web design shops that predated UX, but took all the methods I learned in designing communications and applied it to the web and digital matter and connected the long used methods to new terms for the same things).

That 2001 SXSW was a lot of people who were building, making, and working deeply to understand what worked, what didn≱t work, to improve what they were making so it could be used by others who needed it to work. It was a sea of design and developer hybrid explorers.

By 2005 SXSW had shifted from purely makers to include those talking about things made and how to use what has been made, while not really understanding what goes into making it. These were the “Clickers”.

In 2006 and 2007, we had shifted from the Makers, to the Clickers, to many talking about the Clickers, but not really understanding the Clickers as they weren’t really using things, but talking at an abstraction layer about what the Clickers said. There was some nascent value in these “Talking about Clickers” folks, but a lot of it was off target as they didn’t understand the underlying elements that were being used, not the mindset and the needs of the Clickers all that deeply - the exceptions to these are deep researchers who actually could and did make and spent time in with the Makers and Clickers.

By 2008 the abstraction at SXSW got really crazy. It had a huge number of talks by people “Talking about those Talking about Clickers” otherwise known as social media gurus. It was an utter mess. There was a severe lack of depth and nobody had a clue about much of what they were talking about. Their understandings were based on mis-understandings. There was a small contingent of Makers still speaking and some Clickers who had good depth of understanding by this point, but most of what was on the program was horrid blather. Much of the draw that had makers drop into Austin to see friends and colleagues and share and work through understandings to hone the way forward stopped going. At 2008 I had enough of it and stopped going as the value derived is next to nothing.

SXSW in about eight years went from being Makers, to Clickers, to Talking about Clickers, and to Talking about those Talking about Clickers. It became a gathering of nothingness. It became a conference of what Dan is talking about, people trying to do something without having any interest in understanding what they are doing. They want answers without understanding the question.

For the Love of Makers

I love the Makers and making. The mindset and drive to understand how to build things better for the Clickers and to make things more usable and needed. Working with other Makers and people with Makers’ mindset in the development, design, and product side is fantastic. There is a whole lot of “we don’t understand this well enough” mindset. As nothing is perfect and everything has gaps (products and humans) we need Makers to understand and build a way forward.

August 1, 2008

Resurfacing from Long Quiet

Yes, things have been quiet publicly around these parts. Well, that has to do with a lot of changes on the personal side of life that rolled over in the whole of things. In short our house sold, we moved in different directions, I moved office and home (with the lot of things moving to storage for a bit), been to Boston for Enterprise 2.0., moved in to my new place, been through more than my share of installation hiccups, filling in the gaps of furniture that was donated long ago, been to Varese, Italy for the International Forum on Enterprise 2.0, then to Copenhagen for Reboot (w/ two presentations), put on a full-day workshop at FatDUX HQ, returned to unbox (dig for many series of important papers), more installation hiccups, and many many meetings around the move.

Things are finally settling in to a proper flow, but every time I think that disruption of some sort raises its head (the amount of disruption is utterly amazing). I only move about a half mile from where I was living and working. InfoCloud Solutions has a new mailing address: 7831 Woodmont Avenue Suite 324, Bethesda, MD 20814. The actual workplace is nestled in Chevy Chase, Maryland (spitting distance from Bethesda).

Things are now in proper order for full working efforts and soon clicking along at a rate beyond the previous rate.

Hopefully, I will have longer descriptions blogged for the recent presentations. I am in the midst of trying to do massive writing efforts with coordinating Fall travel schedule and new clients coming on board (still room for more).

It is good to be back and settled.

May 30, 2008

Speaking at the International Forum on Enterprise 2.0 Near Milan, Italy

Under a month from now I have the wonderful pleasure of speaking at the International Forum on Enterprise 2.0, this is just outside of Milan in Varese, Italy on June 25, 2008. I am really looking forward to this event as there are many people whom I chat with on Skype with and chat with in other ways about enterprise and the use of social tools inside these organizations. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet them in person and to listen to them live as they present. Already I know many people attending the event from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Spain, and (of course) Italy. If you are in Europe and have interest this should be a great event to get a good overview and talk with others with interest and experience. Oh, did I mention the conference is FREE?

I will be presenting an overview on social bookmarking and folksonomy and the values that come out of these tools, but also the understanding needed to make good early decisions about the way forward.

I look forward to meeting those of you who attend.

Enterprise 2.0 Boston - After Noah: What to do After the Flood (of Information)

I am looking forward to being at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston from June 10 to June 12, 2008. I am going to be presenting on June 10, 2008 at 1pm on After Noah: Making Sense of the Flood (of Information). This presentation looks at what to expect with social bookmarking tools inside an organization as they scale and mature. It also looks at how to manage the growth as well as encourage the growth.

Last year at the same Enterprise 2.0 conference I presented on Bottom-up Tagging (the presentation is found at Slideshare, Bottom-up All the Way Down: How Tags Help Businesses Organize, which has had over 8,800 viewing on Slideshare), which was more of a foundation presentation, but many in the audience were already running social bookmarking services in-house or trying them in some manner. This year my presentation is for those with an understanding of what social bookmarking and folksonomy are and are looking for what to expect and how to manage what is happening or will be coming along. I will be covering how to manage heavy growth as well as how to increase adoption so there is heavy usage to manage.

I look forward to seeing you there. Please say hello, if you get a chance.

May 3, 2008

Getting Info into the Field with Extension

This week I was down in Raleigh, North Carolina to speak at National Extension Technology Conference (NETC) 2008, which is for the people running the web and technology components for what used to be the agricultural extension of state universities, but now includes much more. This was a great conference to connect with people trying to bring education, information, and knowledge services to all communities, including those in rural areas where only have dial-up connectivity to get internet access. The subject matter presented is very familiar to many other conferences I attend and present at, but with a slightly different twist, they focus on ease of use and access to information for everybody and not just the relatively early adopters. The real values of light easy to use interfaces that are clear to understand, well structured, easy to load, and include affordance in the initial design consideration is essential.

I sat in on a few sessions, so to help tie my presentation to the audience, but also listen to interest and problems as they compare to the organizations I normally talk to and work with (mid-size member organizations up to very large global enterprise). I sat in on a MOSS discussion. This discussion about Sharepoint was indiscernible from any other type of organization around getting it to work well, licensing, and really clumsy as well as restrictive sociality. The discussion about the templates for different types of interface (blogs and wikis) were the same as they they do not really do or act like the template names. The group seemed to have less frustration with the wiki template, although admitted it was far less than perfect, it did work to some degree with the blog template was a failure (I normally hear both are less than useful and only resemble the tools in name not use). [This still has me thinking Sharepoint is like the entry drug for social software in organizations, it looks and sounds right and cool, but is lacking the desired kick.]

I also sat down with the project leads and developers of an eXtension wide tool that is really interesting to me. It serves the eXtension community and they are really uncoupling the guts of the web tools to ease greater access to relevant information. This flattening of the structures and new ways of accessing information is already proving beneficial to them, but it also has brought up the potential to improve ease some of the transition for those new to the tools. I was able to provide feedback that should provide a good next step. I am looking forward to see that tool and the feedback in the next three to six months as it has incredible potential to ease information use into the hands that really need it. It will also be a good example for how other organizations can benefit from similar approaches.

Comments are open (with usual moderation) at this post at Getting Info into the Field with Extension :: Personal InfoCloud.

February 22, 2008

Remote Presentation and Perception Matrix for Social Tools

This post is also found at: Remote Presentation and Perceptions Matrix for Social Tools :: Personal InfoCloud with moderated comments turned on.]

Today I did something I had never done before (actually a few things) I sat in my office in my home and gave a live web video presentation to a conference elsewhere on the globe. I presented my nearly all new presentation, Keeping Up With Social Tagging to the Expert Workshop in: Social Tagging and Knowledge Organization - Perspectives and Potential that was put on by the Knowledge Media Research Center in Tübingen, Germany.

Remote Presentation Feelings

While the remote video presentation is normal for many people inside their large organizations and I have presented at meetings and conferences where my presentation was provided to other location on live video feed (my recent Ann Arbor trip to present at STIET was HD broadcast to Wayne State in Detroit), this home office to conference presentation was new to me. The presentation and video link used Adobe Connect, which allowed me to see whom I was talking to, manage my slides, text chat, and see myself. This worked quite well, much better than I expected. I did have my full slide presentation in lightroom view set up in Keynote on my external monitor on the side and used Awaken on the side monitor as well to help with timing.

The ability to get feedback and watch the attendees body language and non-verbal responses was insanely helpful. I have given webinars and done phone presentations where I had not visual cues to the audience responses, which I find to be a horrible way to present (I often will expand on subjects or shorten explanations based on non-verbal feedback from the audience). Adobe Connect allowed this non-verbal feedback to be streamed back to me, which completely allows me to adjust the presentation as I normally do.

One thing that was a wee bit difficult was having to change focus (I suppose that comes with use and experience), but I would watch audience feedback while presenting, peek to the side to see where I was with time and slides (to work in the transitions), but would then try to look at the camera to "connect". Watching myself on the video feedback the moments I would try to connect through the camera I would open my eyes wide as if trying to see through my iSight and boy does that come across looking strange on a close range camera. I also (unknown to myself until recently watching a video of another presentation I had done) use a similar facial expression to add emphasis, I am realizing with a camera as close as it is for web presentation also really looks odd. I am sort of used to listening to myself (normally to write out new analogies I use or responses to questions), but watching myself in playback from that close of a range is really uncomfortable.

One thing I really missed in doing this web video presentation was extended interaction with the attendees. I rather enjoy conferences, particularly ones with this focussed a gathering as it makes for great socializing with people passionate about the same subjects I am passionate about. I like comparing note, perceptions, and widely differing views. It helps me grow my knowledge and understandings as well as helps change my perceptions. Live face-to-face conversation and sharing of interests is an incredibly value part of learning, experiencing, and shaping views and it is something I greatly enjoy attending conferences in person. I am not a fan of arriving at a conference just prior to a presentation, giving the presentation, and then leaving. The personal social interaction is valuable. The video presentation does not provide that and I really missed it, particularly with the people who are so closely tied to my deep interest areas as this workshop was focused.

New Content in Presentation

This presentation included a lot of new content, ideas, and concepts that I have not really presented or written about in as open of a forum. I have received really strong positive feedback from the Faces of Perception, Depth of Perception, and Perception Matrix when I have talked about it with people and companies. I have included this content in the book on social bookmarking and folksonomy I am writing for O&Reilly and pieces have been in public and private workshops I have given, but it was long past time to let the ideas out into the open.

The components of perception came about through reading formal analysis and research from others as well as not having a good models myself to lean on to explain a lot of what I find from social computing service providers (web tools in the Web 2.0 genre as well as inside the firewall Enterprise 2.0 tools) as tool makers or service owners. The understandings that are brought to the table on a lot of research and analysis is far too thin and far too often badly confuses the roles and faces of the tool that are being reviewed or analyzed. In my working with tool makers and organizations implementing social tools the analysis and research is less than helpful and often makes building products that meet the user needs and desires really difficult. I am not saying that this conceptual model fixes it, but from those who have considered what it shows almost all have had realizations they have had a less than perfect grasp and have lacked the granularity they have needed to build, analyze, or research these social tools.

I am hoping to write these perspectives up in more depth at some point in the not too distant future, but the video and slides start getting the ideas out there. As I have been walking people through how to use the tools I have been realizing the content needed to best us the model and matrix may take more than a day of a workshop of even a few days to get the most complete value from it. These tools have helped me drastically increase my value in consulting and training in the very short time I have used them. Some are finding that their copying of features and functionality in other social services has not helped them really understand what is best for their user needs and are less than optimal for the type of service they are offering or believe they are offering.

August 25, 2007

SXSW Interactive Panel Picking Time

As you have heard nearly everywhere else it is SXSW interactive panel picking time [had I not has the worst cold in 2 years you would have heard it here earlier]. Well, this year I am in on two panels in for the picking. Both are subjects I get asked a lot of questions about and have much experience with each. Please go vote.

Bridge Too Far?: Social Web Inside and Through the Corporate Firewall

The "Bridge Too Far" panel in the picker

Many of us love social web tools we use and would love to use them inside the companies where we work as well as have them use them. This panel will look at blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, inside the corporate firewall, through it and outside it. Some companies blog these tools and some beginning to see the value. The panel is made up of four people with a lot of experience walking companies through the process of understanding then embracing the tools and helping them get the best value out of the tools. The panel is:

Career Transitions: From DIY to Working for The Man

"Career Transitions" in the panel picker

You are trying to right size your career and wondering if working for a monster multinational corporation, government, a small start-up, design shop, or a solo freelancer is the way to go? This is the panel will explain the good sides and the dirt with each of the options. The panel has covered it all and is living it all. The panelists are:

June 13, 2007

Full-Day Social Web & Folksonomy Workshop at d.construct

Tickets for the d.construct Workshops go on sale June 14, 2007. Buying a ticket for a full-day workshop provides free access to the full d.construct conference on September 7th. I am presenting the following workshop on September 6th...

Building the Social Web with Tagging / Folksonomies

On September 6th, 2007 Thomas Vander Wal will be holding his Building the Social Web with Tagging/Folksonomies — d.construct Workshop — at Brighton Dome, Brighton, England, UK.

Thomas Vander Wal, creator of the term folksonomy, provides a full-day workshop on building the social web through a detailed look at tagging systems. The workshop will provide a foundation for understanding social software from the perspective of the people who use it. This perspective helps site owners solve the ‘cold start’ problem of social software not starting out social.

The focus of the workshop is to provide a solid foundation for building and maintaining a social system from the design and management perspective. The workshop will cover policy issues, monitoring, analysis, and tagging systems as features that are added to the mix of existing tools.

The day will provide a brief history of tagging from the days of tagging in the desktop era to current web use. The exercises will focus on better understanding what happens in tagging systems and use those lessons to frame how to build better systems and make better use of the information that is made relevant through those tagging systems. The workshop includes overviews of social web pattern interaction design and the wide array of features.

June 1, 2007

Off to Raleigh for DCampSouth

I am off to Raleigh tomorrow (Friday) as well as a stop in Chapel Hill Friday afternoon. I am head there to speak and participate in DCCampSouth. There is a good write-up of this free (yet FREE) event on the DCampSouth :: NC State Advanced Media Lab blog.

Swing by and chat about all things design.

May 7, 2007

Hoping About

Things have been a wee bit busy the past few weeks. I am off to Banff tomorrow (Monday) and boomerang right back after the WWW Conference Tagging Workshop as I have two days of private workshops in DC just following days.

I am off to the 2007 Identity Workshop for a few days, in part to talk to the some TagCommons people face to face, as well as have some client work to follow-up on. I am then off to south of the boarder, for some work before heading back to the office.

Tagging Workshop at d.construct

I should let you know early that I will be doing a full-day tagging workshop prior to d.construct 2007 in Brighton, England in September. I will post more about this as it is announced. The space is rather limited so keep an eye out.

Workshops Near You & Packages

Those interested in the workshop and I will add you to a list for announcing them. If you would like one in your organization or city I can help get this moving. Toward the end of May I will be providing more information about these, the getting smart packages (workshop or presentation combined with days of advising over a set of months). As I have mentioned these to people the interest is quite strong, so if you want more info on these before they are public on the InfoCloud Solutions site drop me an e-mail.


If you have an e-mail that may have an answer that would be longer than 2 minutes to write I likely still have it lined up, but if you want to jump that line, send the e-mail again (or a series of short e-mails with single questions). I am deeply sorry for my delay in responding. I have no excuse, but the need for more time.

April 13, 2007

From the HQ Office

It has been a good stretch of travel, mostly for work/professional life, but also took a trip to Florida for family holiday. At the moment I am back in the office working on proposals for upcoming projects of various lengths for clients and working through the process of writing, which involves dead trees at the final stages.

Web 2.0 Expo and SF Bay Area

I am soon off again to the San Francisco Bay Area to speak at the O'Reilly Web 2.0 Expo and have business meetings around the Bay Area (please ping via e-mail if you would like to meet-up during this time).

WWW2007 Workshop on Tagging and Metadata

Early next month I am off to Banff to keynote the WWW2007 Workshop on Tagging and Metadata for Social Information Organization. I am not sure how long this trip will be as I will have some pressing work around this time.

Social Software Summit

Lastly, I should note there will be a Social Software Summit that will run at the same time as the ASIS&T IA Summit next Spring (Spring 2008) in Miami. The Social Software Summit is still in its early stages of planning (the idea, dates, location, and interest have been launched). The dates are April 10-11 2008. I have a role in the planning and preparation for this event, along with some other incredible people.

March 3, 2007

On SXSW Tag You're It Panel

I am a panelist on the Tag You're It Panel at South by SouthWest in Austin, Texas. Others on the panel are the ever fantastic: Heath Row (moderator), George Oates, and Ben Brown. The panel information:

Tag You're It on Saturday 10 March 2007 at 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm. The panel will be looking at what people are actually doing inside social tagging systems and where things have gone in the past couple years with tagging. We will get beyond the notion that tagging is cool by providing examples of how people are really using the tools in innovative and useful ways.

Stop by and say hello.

October 25, 2006

Presenting at UIE Web Applications Summit

I am trying to improve my notification of what events I will be presenting. It is with this goal in mind I am letting you know the following... I will be at the UIE Web Application Summit: 21 January 2007 to 23, at the Monterey Marriott, Monterey, CA. I have always been impressed with the quality of the User Interface Engineering (UIE) events and I am delighted to not only attend, but present.

There is an early bird discount available for those who register by November 14th.

October 6, 2006

IA for Web Developers Presentation

My recent presentation at Web Directions South on Informaiton Architecture for Web Developers is now here live online. I am using SlideShare from Uzanto, which is Rashmi Sinha and Jonathan Boutelle in the Mountain View, California and others in India.

October 1, 2006

Sydney Update

A little update... The trip to Sydney has been fantastic, even if I have been working, preparing for presenting, prenting or deeply enjoying other's presentations at Web Directions and OZ IA. I am finally getting out to see Syndey and the bits around it today. I have been here since Monday morning and it is now Sunday, but that is the way it is and I would not change it.

Oddly, I not only lost a day getting here, crossing the dateline, but I lost a day once I got here as Monday and Tuesday really blurred into one another. This trip was one of the more brutal trips, as far as personal disconnectedness (jet lag to some), that I have experienced. It took until about Wednesday night for all my bits to start feeling like there were all in the same place. By Thursday everything was running "normal".

I have been spending a fair amount of time with people from the Web Directions conference, as they are the ones who made this fantastic trip possible. I have met many incredible people and I have been made aware of the vast talent that is in Australia. Count me stunned as I wash of the paint of ignorance that has kept my eyes from noticing this sooner. But, on the web I have no idea where anybody is (this year I have not been sure where I am at times). I have been really impressed with the people that are here from Western Australia both in their knowledge/skills and friendly nature. I became aware of the incredible Port 80 on this trip, which seems to be one of the most vibrant web sharing groups I know of. I was surprised to learn that Site Point is from Melbourne as I have been reading their site and books for years. I even found out that Google Maps was started here before being bought by Google (is Google the new Microsoft with the "not invented here" tag for all their killer services?) and is still driven from here.

To all I me at Web Directions and OZ IA, please keep in touch. In fact, just shoot an e-mail from the contact button/link to make this easier. I met many people who have inspired me and light a fire under my desire to spend time projects I care about and be the best I can be. The passionate discussions about things we all care about have been wonderful as well. The world on this trip became insanely flat, as I have had a really difficult time sorting out where I am (that should change shortly as I get out and actually see a little of Sydney and what makes Sydney unique).

I am already thinking about how I can get back to see more places and the people again, but on their home turf. It would be nice to see people in Western Australia, Melbourne, ACT, Brisbane, etc. There is so much greatness here in Australia, I am glad much of what I have learned and discovered is only a mouse click away, but seeing people face to face and hearing stories of their efforts to make a better web for more and more people is what it is all about. I am going to come away from this trip deeply inspired. Thank you.

September 30, 2006

OZ IA Presentation - Folksonomy for IA is Posted

My just delivered presentation to OZ IA on, Folksonomy for IA (PDF 4.3MB).

Now it is time to focus on other's presentations and get then finally enjoying Sydney and the surrounding area. I am thinking of heading to Manley for the Jazz Festival on Monday.

September 29, 2006

Web Directions Presentations Posted

I have posted my two presentations from Web Directions for download: IA for Web Developers (PDF 14MB); IA for the "Come to Me Web" (PDF 3MB). Please e-mail questions and comments (found under the connect button (JavaScript needs to be on).

I will have a follow-up post in the near future (hopefully), in short Web Directions has been a great conference, run by and attended by utterly fantastic people.

September 25, 2006

Now in Sydney with Minor Trials of Travel

I made it to Sydney today. The flight, all 14 hours was not so bad (in part because I sat next to Derek) as the seats and services were good. I was surprised by bag made it as it started out on another airline. But, when I checked into the hotel my computer connector bag had gone missing on the trip, which had international power converters, connectors, dongles, headphone adapters, and a little widget I rely on for business. I was able to replace some of the important connectors (video to VGA and an iPod connector), but the other things will take some time.

One of the things that struck me is how much it seems like the West Coast of North America with the architecture and city layout. There were parts today that felt like Vancouver, Seattle, or San Francisco, but it is not. One thing that is odd is the sun is in the Northern part of the sky and the trees are do not have leaves as of yet. One things that is good is the time and date of this blog post should be accurate for the first time in months (I am working on fixing that as it is not tough, but it just takes a little time).

As I write this I am realizing my brain and soul have not quite caught up with where my body is at the moment. I am really looking forward to going to sleep tonight. I mean really really looking forward to it.

One thing I learned so far on this trip is how much of a mess the Los Angeles airport is. I have seen a lot of airports the past year, but LAX is really the pits. Nobody knew what terminal I needed to get to so I could make my connecting flight. The police officer sent me to the international terminal and pointed out that changing terminals means you go out of the terminal and walk outside to get to the next one or pass many to get to the one you need. After I was directed to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, I tracked down an "information person" who was holding a sign saying that. He had not heard of United, nor had he heard of Sydney, nor Australia (yes, I did say he was the information guy in the international terminal).

I flew in to the one with American Airlines and it was decent. But, where I needed to go was United and that was a dump. The security screening set-up is pathetic as they have very little space and had TSA officials nearly falling asleep. The signage in the terminal had to have been the worst of any airport I have been to. Not only that, but I was able to get into the premium flight lounge, which was falling apart, as the electrical sockets were falling out, the bathroom has holes in the wall, and the lights were burned out in one part of the main section. This was a premiere lounge? Meh.

I am very happy to be in Sydney and looking forward to seeing people at WebDirections 2006 (wd06) and OZ IA.

September 20, 2006

Understanding Folksonomy: Tagging that Works presentation posted

I have finally posted my Understanding Folksonomy: Tagging that Works (4MB PDF) presentation from d.construct. I have been presenting the content in this for nearly 2 years and have been iterating it. I have been wanting to get the Folksonomy Triad out in public as it has been getting really strong response in the 18 months that I have been using it (in the last 9 months I turned it into an animation that really drives the point home). I have not done a movie of the presentation yet, but that could be coming in the next few months.

I have not been posting the presentations, as the size has been increasing and when they get blogged elsewhere the bandwidth shoots up. But, I have been playing with Amazon S3 to store these files at lower cost and eat less bandwidth. I have been playing with the Python and Ruby scripts, but when Jeff Barr demonstrated the S3 Firefox Organizer I knew it was made really simple to upload, set permissions, and grab a sharable URL.

September 19, 2006

Update and Austrialia Preparations

Things here are a wee bit busy of late. I have been getting myself accustom to local time again and doing final preparations for the trip to Austrialia to speak at Web Directions and the OZ IA. I will be presenting "IA for Web Designers/Developers" as well as "IA for the Come to Me Web" at Web Directions (a few tickets may still be available, check soon - I could not urge you enough to go to Web Directions as the quality and subject matter is stellar and well worth the price) and a Folksonomy and Tagging that works presentation at OZ IA.

If you are in the Australia region and heading to the event or just want to meet-up, please let me know (using thomas at this domain as an e-mail address). I will be around in Sydney through Labor Day.

I have also been tightening the schedule for Fall work at InfoCloud Solutions, please contact me soon as I have some limited time still available.

September 14, 2006

Trip and d.construct Wrap-up

I am back home from the d.construct trip, which included London and Brighton. The trip was very enjoyable, the d.construct conference is a pure winner, and I met fantastic people that keep my passion for the web alive.


The d.construct conference had Jeff Barr from Amazon talking about Amazon Web Services, Paul Hammond and Simon Willison discussing Yahoo and its creation and use of web services for internal and external uses, Jeremy Keith discussing the Joy of the API, Aral Balkan presenting the use of Adobe Flex for web services, Derek Featherstone discussing accessibility for Javascript and Ajax and how they can hurt and help the web for those with disabilities, myself (Thomas) discussing tagging that works, and Jeff Veen pulling the day together with designing the complete user experience.

Jeff Barr provided not only a good overview of the Amazon offerings for developers, but his presentation kept me interested (the previous 2 times my mind wandered) and I got some new things out of it (like the S3 Organizer extension for Firefox.

Jeremy was his usual great presenting form (unfortunately a call from home caused me to miss the some of the middle, but he kept things going well and I heard after that many people learned something from the session, which they thought they knew it all already.

Paul and Simon did a wonderful tag team approach on what Yahoo is up to and how they "eat their own dog food" and how the Yahoo Local uses microformats (Wahoo!).

Aral was somebody I did not know before d.construct, but I really enjoyed getting to know him as well as his high energy presentation style and mastery of the content that showed Flash/Flex 2.0 are fluent in Web 2.0 rich interfaces for web services.

Derek was fantastic as he took a dry subject (accessibility) and brought it life, he also made me miss the world of accessibility by talking about how JavaScript and Ajax can actually improve the accessibility of a site (if the developer knows what they are doing - this is not an easy area to tread) and made it logical and relatively easy to grasp.

I can not comment on my own presentation, other than the many people what sought me out to express appreciation, and to ask questions (many questions about spamming, which is difficult if the tagging system is built well). I was also asked if I had somebody explain the term dogging (forgetting there was a rather bawdy use of the term in British culture and using the term as those people who are dog lovers - this lead to very heavy laughter). Given the odd technical problems at the beginning of the presentation (mouse not clicking) things went alright about 5 minutes or so in.

Lastly, the man I never want to follow when giving a presentation, Jeff Veen rocked the house with his easy style and lively interaction with his slides.

I am really wanting to hear much more from Aral and Derek now that I have heard them speak. I am looking forward to seeing their slides up and their podcasts, both should be posted on the d.construct schedule page.

London Stays

The trip also included an overnight stay in London on the front and back end of the conference. Through an on-line resource I had two last minute rooms booked at Best Western Premiers that were great rooms in well appointed hotels. The hotels even had free WiFi (yes, free in Europe is a huge savings), which was my main reason for staying at these hotels I knew nothing about. I really like both locations, one near Earls Court Tube Station and the other Charing Cross Road and SoHo. The rooms were well under 200 U.S. dollars, which is a rarity in central London. I think I have a new place to track down then next time I visit London.

London People & Places

I had a few impromptu meetings in London and an accidental chat. When I first got in I was able to clean-up and go meet friends Tom and Simon for lunch at China Experience. We had good conversations about the state of many things web. Then Tom showed me Cyber Candy, which I have been following online. I was then off to Neal's Yard Dairy to pick-up some Stinking Bishop (quite excellent), Oggleshield, and Berkswell. I then did a pilgrimage to Muji to stock up on pens and all the while using Yahoo Messanger in a mobile browser (a very painful way to communicate, as there is no alert for return messages and when moving the web connection seems to need resetting often).

That evening I met up with Eric Miraglia for a great chat and dinner, then included Christian Heillmann (who has a great new book (from my initial read) on Beginning JavaSctipt with DOM Scripting and Ajax) in our evening. The discussions were wonderful and it was a really good way to find people of similar minds and interests.

On my last day in London I ended up running into Ben Hammersley as he was waiting for a dinner meeting. It was great to meet Ben in person and have a good brief chat. Somehow when walking down the street and seeing a man in a black utilikilt, with short hair, and intently using his mobile there are a short list of possibilities who this may be.


My trip I had a few full English breakfasts, including one in Brighton at 3:30am (using the term gut buster), which was my first full meal of the day. The breakfast at the Blanche House (the name of the hotel never stuck in my head and the keys just had their logo on them, so getting back to the hotel was a wee bit more challenging than normal) was quite good, particularly the scrambled eggs wrapped in smoked Scottish salmon. The food the first night in Brighton at the Seven Dials was fantastic and a great treat. Sunday brunch at SOHo Social in Brighton was quite good and needed to bring me back from another late night chatting, but the fish cakes were outstanding. The last evening in London I stopped in at Hamburger Union for a really good burger with rashers bacon. The burgers are made with only natural fed, grass-reared additive free beef. This is not only eco-friendly, but really tasty. I wish there were a Hamburger Union near where I work as I would make use of it regularly.

Too Short a Visit

As it is with nearly every trip this year, the time was too short and the people I met were fantastic. I really met some interesting and bright people while in Brighton and I really look forward to keeping in touch as well as seeing them again.

August 15, 2006

Refreshed and Connected

I am back from a little break and refocussing on real stuff not related to ocean waves. I have connectivity and have the ability to send e-mail out. I had quite limited connectivity the past week, even from my mobile.

Give a shout if you are in town for the Adaptive Path UX Week give a shout. I am around for the most part, but will be unavailable for work one day.

July 27, 2006

WebVisons and MIT TechReview

Back from WebVisions

I am back from WebVisions in Portland, Oregon (the most enjoyable city in the U.S. for me) where I presented on Tagging in the Real Web World (my slides will be available at the end of this week). I loved WebVisions again as it is a great developer/designer to developer/designer conference with people sharing methods and frameworks with others to raise the level of everybody. It is a wonderful open sharing conference in the spirit of SXSW Interactive on a little more manageable scale.

MIT Technology Review Mentions Personal InfoCloud

I came back to a really nice mention in the MIT Technology Review article by Wade Roush on The Internet Is Your Next Hard Drive, which points to the Personal InfoCloud as its framing idea. I am increasingly seeing people wanting to store and have access to information across devices and services (or control their own destiny, as Gina Tripiani wants). It is about personal choice where and how their data, information, and media is stored. We are wanting continual access to the information, but may not want or have continual access to the internet or may not want it stored on us. Wade's article brings up some interesting options for those that want some or all of their storage on-line. It is time to dig into these options and see how close they get from a Personal InfoCloud perspective and personal aggregation, when we want and need the information at our finger tips (you know, the technical nirvana we have always dreamed and talked about).

July 15, 2006

Preparing for Web Visions and Other Stuff

Things have been quiet around here as I have been working on my 'Tagging in the Real Web World' presentation for WebVisions in Portland, Oregon (you are going aren't you?), bring on some new clients at InfoCloud Solutions, and working on longer (okay, my normal length) pieces for Personal InfoCloud and some other places that flesh out single slides from recent, and not so recent presentations.

The Tagging in the Real Web World is a new presentation, it has a handful of slides from recent folksonomy presentations that helped the tagging light bulb click. I am not fully focussing on folksonomy, but looking at tagging services and tagging that is being included in other web services.

In September, I will be doing a deeper dive into Understanding Folksonomy at d.Construct in Brighton, England. More on this a little later, but you should note tickets go on sale (they sold out in 30 minutes last year) Tuesday, July 18th at 10am (GMT).

May 24, 2006

May 23, 2006

More XTech 2006

I have had a little time to sit back and think about XTech I am quite impressed with the conference. The caliber of presenter and the quality of their presentations was some of the best of any I have been to in a while. The presentations got beneath the surface level of the subjects and provided insight that I had not run across elsewhere.

The conference focus on browser, open data (XML), and high level presentations was a great mix. There was much cross-over in the presentations and once I got the hang that this was not a conference of stuff I already knew (or presented at a level that is more introductory), but things I wanted to dig deeper into. I began to realize late into the conference (or after in many cases) that the people presenting were people whose writting and contributions I had followed regularly when I was doing deep development (not managing web development) of web applications. I changed my focus last Fall to get back to developing innovative applications, working on projects that are built around open data, and that filled some of the many gaps in the Personal InfoCloud (I also left to write, but that did get side tracked).

As I mentioned before, XTech had the right amount of geek mindset in the presentations. The one that really brought this to the forefront of my mind was on XForms, an Alternative to Ajax by Erik Bruchez. It focussed on using XForms as a means to interact with structured data with Ajax.

Once it dawned on me that this conference was rather killer and I sould be paying attention to the content and not just those in the floating island of friends the event was nearly two-thirds the way through. This huge mistake on my part was the busy nature of things that lead up to XTech, as well as not getting there a day or two earlier to adjust to the time, and attend the pre-conference sessions and tutorials on Ajax.

I was thrilled ot see the Platial presentation and meet the makers of the service. When I went to attend Simon Willison's presentation rather than attending the GeoRSS session, I realized there was much good content at XTech and it is now one on my must attend list.

As the conference was progressing I was thinking of all of the people that would have really benefitted and enjoyed XTech as well. A conference about open data and systems to build applications with that meet real people's needs is essential for most developers working out on the live web these days.

If XTech sounded good this year in Amsterdam, you may want to note that it will be in Paris next year.

May 21, 2006

Light Overview of XTech and Amsterdam (including BarCamp Amsterdam)

This trip to Amsterdam for XTech 2006 (and now bits of BarCamp Amsterdam II has been quite different from previous trips, in that Amsterdam is now getting to be very familiar. I also did not spend a day on the front end of the trip walking around adjusting to the time change and spent it inside at XTech, where I saw many friends, which really made it feel more like a floating island comprised of geographically distributed friends that I see when I travel.

It has been great seeing good friends that I really wish I could see more and/or work with on projects as I believe some killer things could get done. I also met people and got to hang out with many new people, which is always great. I was pleased to spend time with people I have only partially spent time with in the past.

I quite enjoyed XTech as it was a good amount of geekery, which provided sparks of inspiration, very good feedback on the "Come to Me Web" and "Personal InfoCloud" stuff I presented. The session had Paul Hammond, Tom Coates, and then myself presenting ideas that focussed on open data, using open data, and building for personal use and reuse of information in our three presentations. It was a fantastic set up.

There were many Mozilla folks around, which was fantastic to hear where the Mozilla/Firefox development is going. This was a very good cross pollination of people, ideas, and interests.

I also realized I need to through out my presentation on Personal InfoCloud and Come to Me Web and rebuild it from scratch. I was finding that my presentation that I have been iterating on for the past year or so is something that needs restructuring and refocussing. I get very positive comments on the presentation, but in delivering the presentation I have made many minor tweaks that have disrupted my flow of delivery. I believe that starting from scratch will help me focus on what gets delivered when. I am really do not write out the presentation in long form as I think that would make it stale for me.

I am heading home tomorrow, but I have not quite felt like I was in Amsterdam as it is really no longer a foreign place. It is still one of my favorite places to be. I spent much time exploring thoughts, spending time with people, playing with digital things, but not deeply finding the new bits of Amsterdam (outside of a few hours this morning). Ah well, I am back in a few short weeks.

May 16, 2006

Upcoming Conferences I am Presenting at and Attending

Okay, things have been quite busy here. But, here will be changing as I am hitting the skies a bit in the short term. This means I may be near you so reach out and we can hang out and chat. I am completely looking forward to all the places on my schedule and seeing all of the people.


I am off to Amsterdam, Netherlands (no not that other one) this week to speak at XTech. I will be presenting Developing for the Personal InfoCloud on Thursday at 11:45 in the morning.

BarCamp Amsterdam

On Saturday I will be attending BarCamp Amsterdam for part of the time.

Seattle Area

Following the Amsterdam trip I should be in the Seattle area for work. I don't have dates as of yet, but if you shoot an e-mail I will be sure and connect.

Microlearning 2006 Conference

I will be heading to Innsbruck, Austria for the Microlearning Conference and preconference (June 7). I will be talking about microcontent in the Personal InfoCloud and our ability and desire to manage it (one means of doing this is folksonomy, but will be discussing much more).

Following Innsbruck I may be in Europe a bit longer and a little farther north. I will be in Amsterdam just following the conference, but beyond that my schedule has not yet fully jelled.

WebVisions 2006

I will be heading to WebVisions 2006 in Portland, Oregon July 20th and 21st. I will be speaking on Friday the 21st about Tagging in the Real World. This will look at how people are making use of tagging (particularly tagging services) and looking at the best practices.

The Fall

In September it looks like I will be in Brighton, UK for a wonderful event. I should also be in Australia later in September for another conference.

As these events get closer, I will be letting you know.

Yes, I know I need to be publishing this information in hCal, but I have been quite busy of late. But, I am moving in that direction very soon. You can also follow what I am watching and attending in Upcoming for vanderwal.

April 26, 2006

Off to Hang at the Jersey Shore with Librarians

I am off to the New Jersey Library Association 2006 Conference to do a presentation on tagging and folksonomy. If you are there stop by and say hello. I am really looking forward to this event.

March 20, 2006

Post SXSW Reality Change

Getting back from SXSW Interactive is normally a filled with feeling empowered and excited after hanging out with many like minds. This is normally followed by severe reality slap between my mind/soul and my pocketbook. I want to dive in and build and iterate projects, but where I was was not there in that same space I was there bringing them up to where things were in years past and older (sometimes expired) best practices.

I had thought this year I was going to have a similar experience to that of Ethan of feeling a let down not having people to talk to about the experience. Somehow I have kept the high from SXSW, in-fact I have been filling in the gaps on panels I did not make it to and deeply wished I had made it to by reading other's reviews and presenter's slides.

I think my changed experience is largely due to changing my surroundings this past year to focus on clients that really want to build services and a web that goes beyond the page and resonates in people's lives so that what they offer can be used and reused as people actually want and need to do in their life. As well I have been doing the same around tagging and folksonomy, which blends into social networking and refindability. Lastly I dove back into a project that I have been working on since November of last year, thanks to my trip to London, which is where the light went on and the project started getting framed and built in spare time (with the help of another with a tiny slice of time).

I have been increasingly putting my developer hat back on and scratching my own itch, while pulling in resources to make all of this come to life. SXSW helped put this into perspective. Now I just need to get my taxes and other corporate administrative stuff out of the way to build and finish preparing for the IA Summit in Vancouver, BC

March 17, 2006

SXSW Interactive and Austin BarCamp Overview

This year's SXSW was incredible. It started out a little overwhelming as I realized there were six distinct groups that I hang out with and they don't really intermix. But, this all worked out, as by Sunday I realized that there was enough time to spend time with each group. SXSW has always been the place I escape to so to have wonderful conversations and to hang with many like minds. This year was did not let me down, in fact there were many like minds.

The Tagging 2.0 panel I was on seemed to have gone well, based on the comments that followed. (My presentation with diagram will be posted in a week or so.)

BarCamp Austin

I went over to the BarCamp Austin and had a wonderful time for the hour or so I hung out there. I was a little late for Tara's "Marketing your project: Cluetrain style presentation, but I really enjoyed what I heard. I also got to finally meet Chris Messina and thank him for making the original BarCamp enjoyable and accessible for those of use that were attending virtually (he walked the laptop around when the people moved

Best Take Away Ever

My favorite part of SXSW Interactive this year was not only getting to meet Bruce Sterling (finally), but having him sign my copy (or one of them) of his Wired Magazine article on folksonomy and myself, ":Order Out of Chaos". I got a kick out of the "Dr. Folksonomy".

When you get a chance go grab the podcast of Bruce Sterling's closing remarks, which were stellar and moving.

Killer Digits for the Pocket or Hip

This year, not only did the official SXSW site have a wonderful service to for their pushing their schedule (only the things you want) to your mobile device, but there were other great tools used enforce. It seemed many people had logged into Dodgeball for Austin, a mobile service that lets you know where your friends are and lets you ping the service to share your location. This made connecting with your friends at the right party, restaurant, or bar really easy (I do not normally have a use for this at home). I also used Upcoming to track the events I had interest in and then push them to my phone so I had the time and location with me at all times.

This is a really great example of moving information that is of value out of the web and into our real lives. As a web developer I realized years ago that most of the information that is on the web is not really usable or reusable as it is not structured to be used in the place or context where it makes most sense. Most people do not live their lives on the web they live them in the real world. Information and media must be built with this understanding.

March 14, 2006

Tagsplosion and Sleep

SXSW Interactive has been quiet good so far. I was elated to see all of the people that turned out for the tagging panel yesterday and great follow-on questions.

The best thing was I got more than 8 hours of sleep last night. I have not had more than 5 for many days. I am really looking forward to what the added sleep will bring.

March 8, 2006

Upcoming Presentations and Conferences

Things have been a little busy around these parts, but activity and early Spring allergies will not keep me from letting you know that the road show is beginning again.


I am heading off to SXSW Interactive to participate in Tagging 2.0 Panel where we will discuss growth, changes, and new ideas in the realm of tagging.

I will also be hanging out with the Web Standards Project (WaSP) people as we are having our WaSP Annual Meeting open to the public.

This year looks to have some killer content at SXSW, not that it has not in the past, but there are more things than ever that I am interested in attending. I certainly hope they found larger spaces this year. Usually the corridors are overly enticing, but the session rooms could pose a challenge this year. I am looking forward to hanging, chatting, learning, and recharging my web vibe.

IA Summit

I am headed to the IA Summit in Vancouver, British Columbia later in March. I am on the Wireframing Challenges in Modern Web Development panel, which I will be moderating Nathan Curtis, Livia Labate, Bill Scott, and Todd Warfel. We will be looking at the wireframing challenges and solutions of the current web.

I am also presenting my IA for Efficient Use and Reuse of Information. As the web 2.0 meme rings out we realize there is a greater need beyond that as people actually want to use and reuse the information in their own personal information workflows and not always in one web application. I will focus on granular content inventories as well as how to identify content objects for information reuse and set the structure of that information for better use and reuse.

I am incredibly happy to see that Kevin Chang (along with Jane Jao) are presenting Communicating with Comics as a panel as well as a full day workshop. This could be the hidden golden nugget at the IA Summit.


I will be heading to Amsterdam, Netherlands for XTech in May. I am presenting "Developing for the Personal InfoCloud" on Thursday May 18. I will be discussing the Model of Attraction and Come to Me Web as foundations to focus on building for personal use and reuse of digital information and objects.

Microlearning Conference 2006

I will be one of the keynote speakers at the Microlearning Conference in Innsbruck, Austria held on June 8-9, 2006.

More to Follow

There are a few more that will be added shortly. I am also keeping busy with in-house presentations on the Come to Me Web, Personal InfoCloud, Folksonomy, and other related topics. If you would have an interest in having me present at your conferece, workshop, or an in-house event please contact me.

November 26, 2005

Off to London Oxford and Brighton

I am off to London, England tonight. I will be in Oxford Sunday night and through lunch Monday. I will be in London Monday afternoon through Thursday early afternoon. I am in Brighton Thursday late afternoon through Friday morning. Friday I am back to London to Saturday Morning.

I am speaking at Online Information on Wednesday on the topic of folksonomy. I have a handful of other gigs during the days along with seeing some of London that was not there when I lived in England in 1988. I am most interested in chatting, listening, and seeing people. Give a shout if you have an interest.

I am reachable by the usual e-mail.

October 25, 2005

Europe Presentations

I am late in posting the links to my two presentations given in Europe. I presented the Personal Digital Convergence as the opening keynote to the SIGCHI.NL - HCI Close to You conference. I have also posted the final presentation, IA for the Personal InfoCloud, at the Euro IA Summit 2005.

October 2, 2005

MIT Technolgoy Review Emerging Tech Conference Aftermath

I had a great time at the Technology Revirew's Emerging Technologies Conference. It was odd for me as I have not been purely an attendee at a conference in a few years, but this worked very well. The panels and speakers were fantastic and many of those who spoke were around for meals and other events. The conversations were fantastic and I am just getting back to those I met to follow-up (as I am preparing for two presentations, setting up a business, and a few other items that have pulled my attention in recent weeks).

I have to say the Technology Review staff deserves a giant applause as they are simply wonderful people who are bright and energetic about the subjects they cover.

September 27, 2005

Off to TR Emerging Tech Conference at MIT

Tomorrow afternoon I am off to Cambridge, MA to attend the Technology Review's Emerging Technologies Conference at MIT. I am really looking forward to this, as I will see some familiar faces and get a slightly different view to the tech world than I have had before, with nanotech and stem cell panels combined with the digital world I live in.

August 30, 2005

Added Speaking at EuroIA to Fall Tour

I now have a fourth speaking engagement in Europe this Fall. I will be presenting, "IA for the Personal InfoCloud" at the European IA Summit 2005 in Brussels. I am really looking forward to this event with the breadth of penetration of broadband and mobile in Europe they are currently dealing with and working to find solutions around the problems I foresaw that have been driving me to work on the Personal InfoCloud and its related frameworks.

The European IA Summit follows the SIGCHI.NL HCI Close To You keynote the previous Thursday. The keynote will largely be a new presentation.

I am deeply humbled and excited by these opportunities. Getting the opportunity to present to an audience who has an advanced market dealing with the issues of cross platform and devise design will be wonderful. I am looking forward to the feedback and taking in the life in Europe again.

I will also be presenting at Design Engaged in Berlin and Online Information in London, both in November.

Barcamp UK

It looks like the UK has caught barcamp fever in the manifestation of barcamp UK. This is utterly brilliant how this is spreading.

I have a small design gathering I went to last year in Amsterdam and will be attending again this year in Berlin. Last year's utterly wrecked me in a wonderful way. All of the work and playing with ideas and solutions to problems that were manifesting on the web were echoed by others and it was a great experience that gave me more energy to pursue my Model of Attraction and Personal InfoCloud work of designing across platforms and devices for people to use and reuse information more easily. One of the areas that has been problematic is the integrating desktop broadband and mobile use of the same services and information/media. Many people have been finding the Personal InfoCloud a good framework to think and design for this reality and one of the areas where this is really of interest of late is Europe (hence, my three trips there and four conferences where I will be presenting).

Best of luck to Suw as she leads the way. Go help her as you will be quite glad you did.

August 20, 2005

BarCamp is Rocking the Free World

I started following BarCamp on IRC, Flickr, and streaming video. Today I was able to participate in one of the discussions. This is one of the better things I have done lately directly on the web.

It has not been perfect as people go outside and gather, but nobody takes the streaming camera. It is like not having legs, or other communication means.

Go follow along. You are invited.

August 17, 2005

Fall Tour - Intitial Europe Stops Announced

I will let you in on the beginnings of my Fall Tour, which is still developing at this time. There will be a European flavor, which will be very good as the markets there are in the midsts of developing for robust cross-platform usage by people trying to connect their digital lives across devices. The mobile market is far more mature than in the United States and with broadband penetration rates over 50 percent in many European countries (through the help of government funding to make this a priority of their infrastructure and therefore a public good) the usage is driving richer media design perspectives. I am excited to have the opportunities to present and investigate more in these advanced digital life markets.

The European part of the Fall Tour (as it stands today with more stops still possilbe):

I am open to meeting, working, and presenting around these times in locations "relatively" close and I will most likely be flying in and out of Amsterdam for all portions of this tour, and yes each gig is its own trip. I may be in London and surrounding environs for a few days surrounding my panel.

August 5, 2005

Quiet, Not for Long

Things are going to be quiet here for a few days...

Right, okay. We are fine on this end, but have just been a wee bit busy. We will be filling you in on the Fall Tour in a few days as we have been setting the initial groundwork for travel and blocking out dates.

In the short term Thomas is off the the Jersey Shore for "rest" and relaxation. Oh, since the Jersey Shore is in close proximity...

Right, okay. Thomas will be in the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday the 9th to speak on the BayCHI - Are you ready for Web 2.0? panel. Drop by and say hello.

July 25, 2005

Speaking at BayCHI August 9th

I will be in the San Francisco Bay Area August 9, 2005 to speak on the BayCHI - Are you ready for Web 2.0? panel. This will be at the PARC's George E. Pake Auditorium (formerly known as Xerox PARC). I am looking forward to the panel and being back in the Bay Area.

Did I mention I am only on the ground for 12 hours? I am flying in from vacation on the New Jersey Shore, but it will be worth it. I have a couple places I need to stop, but shoot me e-mail to meet-up or let me know you will be going to the panel. I have a long string of things to get to in the Bay Area that have been building since January, but this will not be the trip to knock all of them out.

I really need to get to the Bay Area more often, it is home (well where I was born and spent much of my life there).

July 18, 2005

Say Hey - If I Knew

I have a deep love of digital technology as an assistive devise and even an enabling device. But, I need something that sits between the digital and the real so to join those worlds.

Here is the problem... I am continually not blanking at who somebody I know in a digital context (through e-mail, a social networking tool (one that works), listserves, blogs, etc.), but their face or just lack of some means of connecting those I know to who they are physically. It continually happens at conferences or when traveling. This happened three times to me at WebVisions with Matt May, Erin Kissane, and Kris Krug. With all three it took some time before it clicked, fortunately with Matt it clicked while I still had time to draw the lines. I would have loved to have chatted with Erin and Kris with the context of how I know them firmly in place. Part of the problem it did not register to me that they were going (I am not sure I checked close enough to the event Upcoming to see who was going to I could make a mental note (or otherwise) to say hey.

What would the solution be? The gap between digital and physical must close. I need my address book crossed with my digital social networks and get all of the pieces tied together with one identity that I can track. Sure everybody can keep their 16 screen names across different communities, but we need to aggregate those to one identity when it makes sense, such as meeting in person. I have been told Sxip can handle this, but I have not had the time to track that down.

The next step is to take the aggregated identity and go through events I am attending or places traveling and let me know who will be there. I am not see this as a privacy issue as there are established friend relationships and set with parameters of securely allowing access to our information, or it has be made public. I usually have a mental list of who I want to see and talk to prior to events, but that group is growing. There is also a group of people I normally only see at events and I always try to hang with that "floating island", but I am usually in contact with them long before.

It seems like a tool like Upcoming would be a perfect place to do this for a large chunk of events. It will still take aggregating the identities across all of the digital communities I belong, address books, and in-person communities. I would love for the next step to include an application in my mobile device that tipped me off to somebody on my friendly "say hey" list being with in "hey" range.

July 17, 2005

Designing for the Personal InfoCloud presentation at WebVisions 2005 Wrap-up

I have posted my presentation from yesterday's session at WebVisions, in Portland, Oregon. The files, Designing for the Personal InfoCloud are in PDF format and weigh in at 1.3MB.

I really had a blast at the conference and wish I could have been there the whole day. I will have to say from the perspective of a speaker it is a fantastically run conference. Brad Smith of Hot Pepper Studios did a knock out job pulling this conference together. It should be on the must attend list for web developers. I was impressed with the speakers, the turn out, and how well everything was run. Bravo!

WebVisions is held in one of my favorite cities, Portland, Oregon, which has some of the best architecture and public planning of any North American city. I have more than 300 photos I have taken in 48 hours and will be posting many at Flickr in the next couple of days.

July 12, 2005

Passion and the Day-to-day

This has been an up and down month so far with health, work, technology, and time. In general 2005 has been a rough year for respiratory issues already for me as I am nearly 3x the normal problems for a full year. These issues zaps energy and fogs the brain (something I really loathe).

The day-job is muddled in past problems, issues that have been plaguing people and have been solved years ago, but where I am resources and bureaucracy keep the long past current. Outside of the day-job I am working with the now and future, which I have really been loving. I have been working on responding back to many questions that have come in through e-mail about possible work and helping people through problems grasping and implementing efficiencies for current web development, folksonomies, and Personal InfoCloud related items.

I have also been working on my presentation for WebVisions, which involves completing it, tearing it apart and nearly starting over. To date I have nearly 25 hours working on this presentation, mostly integrating new material and editing out past content. This is in contrast to day-job presentations, which take me about an hour to build.

In a sense I am still time traveling on my daily commute. The gap is about four to six years of time travel in each 40 minute to hour commute. This is really wearing on me and it is long past time to move on, but I have not had the time to put forward to nail down the essentials for moving my passion to my day job (time and family needs that have filled this year).

So today, I was quite uplifted as my subscription issue of August 2005 MIT Technology Review arrived. The cover topic is Social Machines and I am quoted and have a sidebar box. That was up lifting as it relates to my "real work". This is right up there with Wired's Bruce Sterling article on folksonomy and Thomas Vander Wal.

Now the real work continues. If you are in Portland for Web Visions or just there in general later this week, please drop me a note and I will provide my contact info. If you are not in Portland and would like me to come to you and discuss and help along these topics please contact me also.

June 18, 2005

Personal InfoCloud at WebVisions 2005

The last few years I have kicked myself for not going to WebVisions, well I finally am attending, actually I am presenting my Personal InfoCloud at 1pm. This is the latest refinement of the Personal InfoCloud that I have been working on for four years and sharing with those that are finding it quite useful.

The essential information you need is that you should be at WebVisions 2005 in Portland, Oregon. It is being held July 15th at the Oregon Convention Center.

What do you say? "Join the giants of the Web world to explore the future of design, content creation, technology and business strategy. From podcasting to universal usability, you'll discover how the Web is interacting with digital devices to change the way we communicate, access information and do business."

May 17, 2005

Post SSAW Snapshot

I had an utterly fantastic weekend at the Social Software in the Academy Workshop at the Annenberg Center for Communication. There were great conversations and shared observations from a broad spectrum of academic interests as well as outside (that was me).

The interview of Richard Cameron of CiteULike covering folksonomies and their value on social bookmarking sites went quite well in my opinion. There was a very robust backchannel (actually two of them, one steno-tracking the panels and the other was free space) that really had some good discussion going in parallel to the interview/conversation.

There are many people I really want to keep in touch with from this weekend as there are some things in the folkonomy and Personal InfoCloud work I am doing as well as general input on where and how to work through the walls between academia and the practitioners (interested and informed parties outside).

I can always tell when I have had a good time interacting with others as I have problems sleeping as I am digesting and culling through conversations and ideas that I have been exposed to. Any even that changes the work I am doing for the better or causes me to pause, reflect, and integrate a new perspective is a fantastic time by me. Although going through this on a 4.5 hour red-eye flight from Long Beach to DC was a little disruptive to normality this morning.

One idea that came up this week end was a workspace that is part academia and part think tank for technology/design ideas to gel and incubate. I had just run across a similar idea in John Thakara's In the Bubble, which he labeled something similar a "think-and-do tank". This sounds like a wonderful environment. Part research and part building to test and improve what is around us seems very well suited to where I am desiring to head. I get lost deep down in the details and most often have to pull my discussions up to a much higher level for others to benefit (not always the case of late, as exposing some of the under belly of the data flow diagrams and technical design elements really would have helped the cause, but I kept getting asked higher level questions and answered there, such is life).

I have been trying to figure out a good home for the Personal InfoCloud (including the related folksonomy and Model of Attraction) as regular work/obsession. I think I am somewhat closer to figuring that out as of this past weekend. I need to get a lot of this out of my head to help others move forward as well. I would love 30 hours days, but that will not happen so I need to deal with the constraints and hand and rework some things to finally get things moving fully in the right direction.

May 11, 2005

Heading to Los Angeles and SSAW at the Annenberg Center

I am off again this weekend. I will be in Los Angeles this weekend. So far I have most of Friday free. It looks like dinner may be taken on Friday evening as well as a beer or two to acclimate a Brit. Interesting things to see (other than my old house, junior high, and neighborhood) or meet-ups would be quite welcome.

I am at the Social Software in the Academy Workshop at the USC Annenberg Center on Saturday and Sunday. I will be chatting with Richard Cameron of CiteULike on Sunday. Not only does he run CiteULike, but he has been doing some interesting research on trends and patterns, which he is using to improve the probability the person using the service will find what they need more easily. We had a great chat last night and I am really looking forward to the public chat on Sunday.

April 13, 2005

Presenting at Social Software in the Academy Workshop at the Annenberg Center for Communication

Add to my list of events where I will be presenting, Social Software in the Academy Workshop at the USC Annenberg Center for Communication. This will be May 14-15th. The focus my involvement will be around folksonomy and tagging. I will post more info as the time nears and I know more.

April 10, 2005

Personal InfoCloud at WebVisions 2005

I, Thomas Vander Wal, will be presenting the Personal InfoCloud at the WebVisions 2005 in Portland, Oregon on July 15th. In all it looks to be a killer conference, just as it has been in the past. This year's focus is convergence (it is about time).

WebVisions is one of the best values in the web conference industry these days, as the early bird pricing is just $85 (US). You don't need an excuse, you just go. You spend a Friday bettering yourself and then Saturday in Powell's Books the evenings are spent talking the talk over some of the world's best beers served up fresh.

March 15, 2005

SXSW Mini-Redux Part 2

It is 1am and I am home safely, my laptop is recharging, and I will soon do the same. I had a great time at SXSW Interactive as I had many, many wonderful conversations. I am still digesting many of them, (as well as still digesting those from the previous weekend at the Information Architecture Summit in Montreal.

The end of SXSW (I really wish I could have stayed to the end of the Interactive Festival to continue soaking in a realm people who "get it") was fitting as I snagged a ride and good conversation from Robert Scoble, which I am thankful for both.

More to follow, once I get some sleep.

March 14, 2005

SXSW and Solipsism Presentation

I am having a great time at SXSW Interactive. I am heading back home this evening and will truly miss the remainder of the festival (it truly is a celebration of the web and digital design).

Yesterday I spoke on the panel, How to Leverage Solopsism. My slides for the session focussing on Personal Information Management (1.14MB PDF) is available.

I have has so many wonderful conversations. Please keep in touch and lets keep the conversations going.

March 11, 2005

IA for the Personal InfoCloud

At the IA Summit 2005 (Montreal) I spoke on IA for the Personal InfoCloud, which seemed to go over quite well. The presentation of the slides of IA for the Personal InfoCloud (2.64MB PDF) can be downloaded. The time to present this was rather short, but I added a scenario to walk through a possible scenario that runs across environments (work, mobile, and home) with two contexts for each.

There is a lot I still have not presented on this that makes it more usable today in many environments. It is particularly helpful if you are designing across devices, building for personal management of the information, and/or designing for information use and reuse. If anybody would like me to present the full presentation and help them understand this better, please contact me (e-mail is above or use vanderwal on the address).

I was asked about the cloud a few times. The Personal InfoCloud is the rough cloud of information that follows us as we go from place to place, this cloud keeps all the information the person wants to be kept nearby.

Dan Willis offered, not only great advice on my visuals, but replacement visuals. I will work to use these excellent replacements in the coming presentations.

Folksonomy: A Wrapper's Delight

As part of the IA Summit 2005 (Montreal) panel on Social Classification (Folksonomies) I presented Folksonomy: A Wrapper's Delight (2.6MB PDF), which refers to the ability to wrap from an emergent vocabulary to a formal controlled vocabulary using a folksonomy. In the discussion I brought up "the flood of information on the internet has turned the scent of information into the stench of information, but folksonomies and other tools help bring back the sweet smell of information". We get the sweet smell from ease of refindability.

Blog as Personal Knowledge Managment

Last night I gave a presentation to the ASIST Potomac Valley chapter. The topic for the evening was blogging and I was joined by James Melzer and Christina Pikas.

I presented The Blog as Personal Knowledge Management (695kb PDF download). The presentation may not make much sense with out speaker's notes, which I can rebuild when I have a little more time.

March 9, 2005

Brief Summit Snippet and the Week Ahead

A quick note: I just got back from the IA Summit in Montreal and I am a little burnt from wonderful stimulation. I utter loved this Summit, but I consumed it differently than the previous three I have been to. I did not make it to nearly half, three-quarters of the things I had hoped to, mostly because I was involved in wonderful conversations around the stuff I am deeply passionate about.

I found others working on similar areas of thought. Gene Smith (whom I am indebted to or cursed by for unleashing the Folksonomy virus) and Brett Lider presented sessions back to back that made me realize there is a disparate conversation going on at the moment and we need a little place to pull ideas together. This place will hopefully be the IA 2.0 Salon at the moment it is going to be an invite only kind of thing to keep it relatively small, but open to those that are passionate and have knowledge and information to contribute. The focus is on person-centered information architecture, rich information architecture, personal inforcloud, designing for information use and reuse, designing across context and environments, designing across devices, etc.

I have another presentation tomorrow and then a panel at SXSW Interactive. Please come say hello.

I feel like I really did not get to spend enough time with everybody I wished to at the IA Summit. I was also having a tough time placing people with context, whom I know through their digital representations in their blogs or e-mail addresses on listserves. Please drop me a note at the address in my contact above or my screen name at to say hello and continue the conversations.

I really wish I was going to Emerging Technology as well, as there will be a great amount of conversation around more of the same areas. I have been asked by many if I was going and had many people tell me I really need to be there this year. As of today I am not going as I was not asked and with all the things going on these days I need a stronger reason that to go and just hang. I take vacation to go and speak as well as pay out of my own pocket when I am not paid to speak. Unless things change in the next few days I am going to hope the conversations through e-mail will suffice.

February 12, 2005

It is Speaking Season

The next month or so has a few speaking engagements lined up. They are as follows:

Date: February 17th 2005 - Thursday (9am to 11:30am)
Event: The Web Mangers Roundtable
Topic: Blogging into 2005 panel (with Mike Lee of AARP and Lee Rainey of PEW Foundation
Location: Washington, DC, USA
Access: Sold Out

Date: March 5th 2005 - Saturday (10:30am - 12:15pm)
Event: ASIS&T Information Architecture Summit
Sorting Out Classification - with Stewart Butterfield, Peter Merholz, Peter Morville, and Gene Smith
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Access: IA Summit Registration

Date: March 5th 2005 - Saturday (4pm to 4:45pm)
Event: ASIS&T Information Architecture Summit
IA for the Personal InfoCloud
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Access: IA Summit Registration

Date: March 9th 2005 - 6:30pm
Event: ASIS&T Potomac Valley Chapter Panel
From Soup to Nuts: Blogs, Blogging, and the Greater Impacts to Information Science -p with James Melzer of SRA International and Christina Pikas of Johns Hopkins University
Location: Laurel, MD, USA: Campus of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
Access: Registration Form

Date: March 14th (?), 2005 (Specifics to follow)
Event: South by Southwest Interactive Festival
Topic: How to Leverage Solipsism - with Peter Merholz and Stewart Butterfield
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Access: SXSW Interactive Registration

November 21, 2004

Tying Things Together from Design Engaged

Design Engaged is still interfering with the regularly scheduled thinking, which makes it one of the best gatherings I have been to in the last few years. It has been a positively disruptive experience. I have posted my notes on other's presentations, which are sketchy at best. The gaps can be filled in to some degree using Andrews links to Design Engaged posted presentation. Andrew also has wrangled the Design Engaged favorite book list.

I have two or three pieces that I am building essays or some other format from some of the ideas that bubbled up. Some are reworkings of some of my own ideas that have been changed by other's idea infusions and some are pure mashings of other's ideas. Now it is just finding time (as usual).

November 16, 2004

That Syncing Feeling Pages Updated

The links to That Syncing Feeling have been corrected as I now have steady connectivity again. I have also posted the PDF version, for whomever finds that helpful.

November 15, 2004

Back to Telecommuting to My Personal Life

I am back home from a fantastic conference, Design Engaged. An incredibly deep thanks is owed to Andrew for putting this conference on. I am so tired, but so amazingly still on the conference high that comes from spending time with people (some new to me and some already friends) who are bright, witty, and have similar view on the world and where it can be going. Having the conference in Amsterdam was wonderful and that really added to the uplifting nature of the conference.

Amsterdam is such a fantastic place for me, not only because some of my family comes from there, but the pace, the bikes, the freedom of expression, fantastic architecture, incredible public transportation that is truly world class, color and light built into the fabric of the city in ways that are permanent.

One question came up a lot in conversations, "do you telecommute?" My answer is no, I commute to work, but I often telecommute to my personal life. This conference allowed me to put actual people to the weblogs, comment names, IMs, and e-mails to a large portion of those I find to be holding a conversation that really helps frame my mindset. The conference was a synchronous time-place that collapsed hours, days, and weeks of asynchronous on-line conversations through weblogs and digital meta-trails as well as comment posts. Not only was the mind energized and engaged this weekend, but so was the heart as I got to know many much more deeply and still found wonderful warmth, which is a mark of fantastic people to me.

I am ready to go back, but that moment in time is gone. I can hope for future workings with each of these folks again. My life has been greatly enriched and I am deeply thankful.

November 12, 2004

August 13, 2004

Design Engaged Announced

A new design forum has been announced, Design Engaged has been organized by Andrew Otwell and will be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands November 12 to 14, 2004. The format sounds very tempting.

May 3, 2004

GEL Conference Overview

Heath Row, of Fast Company, has captured the GEL Conference write-ups on one page. I was traveling this past week and was bummed to have missed this conference. I am already planning to fit in next year's conference as it seems to be a great conference that gathers great ideas that help share how to improve the Web for the user's experience.

October 16, 2003

AIfIA event sponsorships

The fine folks as the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture (AIfIA) are offering IA event sponsorships. Yes, there are two 1,000 U.S. dollar sponsorships available as well as marketing and speaker services.

April 1, 2003

IA Summit Reviewed at Boxes and Arrows

Boxes and Arrows has posted their summaries of the IA Summit in two parts, Friday and Saturday at the IA Summit and Sunday at the IA Summit held in Portland. The write-ups are very good and leave one wanting more. There are links to outside resources for the presentations and other reviews of the conference.

March 30, 2003

More Portland and IA Summit photos

A few Portland and IA Summit photos (81) have been added to the photo gallery. It looks like I still need some tweaking of the BetterHTML tool to up the quality of the photos. I had been hoping to complete these earlier but errands and constant sleeping hindered progress.

March 27, 2003

Wayfinding and navigation in digital spaces

The IA Summit session on Wayfinding and navigation in digital spaces has the presentation slides posted on Rashmi's site (Rashmi was the panel moderator). The panelists were Mark Bernstein, Andrew Dillion, and Susan Campbell. (Oddly enough I was presenting the Model of Attraction at the same time in another session. The Model of Attraction provides a framework for thinking about information structure and development in a navigation metaphor environment.)

Peter has posted his notes on this panel (navigation and hypertext).

March 25, 2003

Quick overview of IA Summit

I am back from Portland, Oregon from the IA Summit. The Summit was fantastic, although I seem to have missed a few of sessions that were said to be fantastic. The two session that Rashmi lead, user reseach methods and a panel on Navigation and Wayfinding in Digital Spaces (also on the panel were Mark Bernstein and Andrew Dillon who had similar comments on the problems with the navigation metaphor) were said to be fantastic and I am upset I missed them. I will write up my notes and outlines by the end of the week on the wonderful sessions I did attend.

In all it was a great conference, and I deeply thank Christina Wodtke for her work on putting this conference together. There was a IA Summit blog put together by Adam Greenfield, which had some postings, but it seems connectivity problems (many of us lost our broadband access from our hotel rooms) hindered the contributions. There was a wonderful vibe at the conference, even with the rarely mentioned war going on (many admitted to watching news during downtime) and very large storm troopers in riot gear wandering about. Unfortunately I was a little cranky and lost in a blur of an airline cold for much of the conference, but I did get the opportunity to put faces and wonderful people with the names I am familiar with.

March 22, 2003

IA Summit Presentation of the Model of Attraction

The presenation of the Model of Attraction given at the IA Summit is now available. The first version available is PDF and an HTML version of the outline will be available also very soon. The version posted it shorter than I hoped as I was still cutting content out of the presentation minutes before I began presenting. Yet, the presentation should be somewhat coherent as it stands now.

March 20, 2003

Gone to the Roses

I am off to the Left Coast, Portland in particular, the IA Summit more particularly. Stop and say hi. I will continue my usual nonsense from the City of Roses.

March 16, 2003

TiBook external monitor for Keynote

Today I decided I better figure out how one uses the external monitor funtionality on the TiBook in preparation for the presentation at the IA Summit 2003. This little endevor was super simple as I just plugged in my 19 inch Mitsubisi with trinitron flat screen and it started to come to life. A quick to system preferences to automatically grab the dimensions and drivers for the monitor and it was rolling. The external monitor is just an extension of the laptop's screen. The clarity on the large monitor is exceptional and there was no slowdown to the TiBook performance.

I ran Keynote with ease with the laptop screen showing the application and the external monitor showing the presentation. I can not figure how to scroll through the notes section while the presentation is running, that is one thing I really would like to sort out.

March 14, 2003

Molly wants to discuss SXSW and flow of ideas

Molly asks what one gets from SXSW? I did not make it this year as I am somewhat burried with work, reviews for a great conference in June, and preparing for Portland. I get a great amout from SXSW Interactive infact part of why I am burried is because of a confluence at SXSW last year. The Model of Attraction solution to the failure of navigation as our metaphor of building interfaces to information on the Web. I have been whittling down over 5 pages of single spaced outline on MoA for the last 6 weeks trying to fit a solid understanding of it into 30 to 45 minutes.

Much of what can make SXSW great is the bright passionate people it draws in. The inspiration and spark from SXSW can last a year. I do agree there is a need for a higher level conference as a place to think and bounce ideas around to keep the growth horomones for design, research, and technology fresh. Some of that may come and I really want to be there. This is not to say that SXSW does not offer this, it does as follow on conversations after the panels. It would be great to have these discussions as small groups or as the panels.

March 11, 2003

Tanya Raybourn finds Spirit of SXSW Interactive and her observations of the David Weinberge keynote glean the wonderful wonders of the Web.

March 10, 2003

A glimpse of SXSW for those too far away

It seems Heath Row is offering some great notes from SXSW Interactive (not as good as being there, but...). Photomatt is also covering SXSW offering SXSW photos, including kickball, and The Future: User-Centered Design Goes Mainstream. [hat tip Cory and Matt]

March 1, 2003

Depressed about not going to SXSW

I am a very bummed as I will not be going to SXSW Interactive this year. Things were not working out as there were too many things here going on and I will be away speaking at the ASIS IA Summit and attending the IA Leadership Summit

I am upset about SXSW as it is a wonderful learning experience and reassuring experience. SXSW has always provided the confirmation that I am on the right track as well as show where I can improve. SXSW provides a great social environment to not only learn in the sessions, but hang out with folks like yourself. The panels, which have just recently been fully fleshed out, seem to be some of the best in years (had this been out even a week ago I would have said screw it and gone).

I will greatly miss my frieds that I usually only see at SXSW and learn immense amounts.

January 18, 2003

Model of Attraction moves forward

The upcoming IA Summit in Portland, Oregon is providing me the opportunity to offer the Model of Attraction live and in person. In the coming weeks I will be posting background to this presentation in digestible chunks. You are free to peruse the initial draft of Model of Attraction from March 2002, the Model of Attraction outline from December 2002, and the attraction category here in Off the Top.

Navigation is Broken

Part of the need for developing the Model of Attraction revolves around the broken metaphor of navigation that many IA's put much trust in. Metaphors use a concept that is understood (often not related to the topic at hand) to describe the hard to understand or the new. All metaphors limit understanding as they do not accurately describe the actions and relationships, they only provide a framework that helps understand bits of the whole. The navigation metaphor has been stretched beyond its limits and has limited the possibilities of information structures. We as IAs are worse off by leaning on navigation beyond its narrow boundaries and the users of the sites and the information bound in the sites are worse off by the over reliance on the navigation metaphor.

To see where this discovery began, go to this discussion on IA, navigation, and information space. Pay attention to Stewart Butterfield's comments. In addition navigation does not permit us to think about understanding visual attraction, reuse of information, information access methods outside the PC based Web, mobile access, personalization, content management, or the ability to have a rough cloud of information that follows the user (access to information where and when one needs it). In the Peterme discussion I stated I would sleep on a solution. I repeatedly slept and woke thinking about this problem and fell into the Model of Attraction early last March and have been working with the MoA since then.

I have used the MoA with clients and when mentoring IAs and Web developers. The comprehension is much better when describing the same approach than when using the navigation metaphor. Clients quickly understand the need for controlled vocabularies based on the user's common language and understanding. MoA helps easily explain the need for grouping of information around categories and facets. Card sorting tasks become easy to understand for the clients and helps them assist in the process. Most of the IAs took kit (persona, taxonomy, wireframes, metadata, etc.) are more usable as their need is easily understood by all in the context of attraction.

Scent not Strong

You may be thinking this rough explaination you are getting sounds like Information Scent. You would be right, to some degree. But information scent, like navigation, is a metaphor. Yes, scent breaks too and is quite difficult to use with clients as some things get very confusing for them. Scent helps IAs understand what is going on a little better and there is great research that has come out of the Information Scent community. But when you get down to it scent is a subset of attraction. Scent is one method of attracting or repelling the user toward information they are seeking and keeping extraneous information out of the mix. Scent also has its limits. The scent metaphor works with getting the user to information, but it gets very murky when the information needs metadata (to help augment the attraction between the user and the information they are seeking). Scent and odors have distinct understandings and altering the scents for understanding (metadata) raises many questions from clients as the client tries to understand. Scent does not work well when trying to build information structures for mobile access to information, nor for setting the ability to have the information follow the user (What you want to use a blueberry muffin as a perfume? Don't think so).

More to Come

This only defines MoA by showing the limits of navigation and scent. More understanding is on its way in upcoming weeks and will be put in a presentation format for the IA Summit. Those that are worried, we are not throwing out navigation or scent. We are keeping navigation in its small usable space where it works well. Scent has provided great research and has similar properties to attraction as it is a subset. The Model of Attraction will provide a broader foundation that allows us to move into the future as we build information structures that include possibilities for mobile access, social networks, and true access to information as the user needs it by keeping the information close at hand. The MoA does not solve these problems, but provides a framework that does not break when we work to solve these issues.

AIfIA is offering its IA Leadership Seminar as part of the ASIS&T IA Summit 2003 "Making Connections".

The Leadership Conference and the Summit offer great opportiunites to expand our knowledge and skills. This is one event I am really looking forward to this year.

December 11, 2002

Supernova conference explodes with ideas.

I have been very intrigued with supernova and the coverage on blogs (supernova's own blog, Doc's day two and day one, Kevin Werbach's coverage, and Cory on boingboing). There is a lot of great ideas and imressions of technology and its next steps. This is very good for the mind and digital spirits. Oddly none of the intended topics were stellar, but the tangential conversations really were on target.

December 1, 2002

UPA Calendar of Events

N2S (note to self): UPA calendar of conferences covers more than just UPA events. This could prove a good resource for coming attractions.

November 17, 2002

Conferenece envy

Matt has been chronicling his experience at Doors of Perception held in Amsterdam. Matt offers his notes from: day 1, day 2 morning, day 2 afternoon, day 3, and day 3 final notes. This and ASIS&T were two conferences I really wanted to attend this Fall, but the move and house have eaten my money. I am saving myself for the Spring for SXSW, ASIS&T IA Summit, and possiblly DUX along with the possibility of Good Experience Live.

I did pop up to Philly to meet-up with some AIfIA Board members, other leadership counsel folks, and members. It was a great treat. I really wished I was staying for the ASIS&T conference (next year) and spending more time with these folks.

The train up was good as I got a lot of writing done (remember to take headphones if you are not on a "quiet" car, which do not run on weekends). The seat I was in on the way up did not have a functioning electrical socket, so I was pulling on batteries (not to worry I have a TiBook with 4 to 5 hours of battery). I was able to edit, read, write, and work on some graphics last evening and on the train back today. What a wonderful way to travel, particularly to Philly.

July 18, 2002

Adaptive Path to DC

Last September I attended a two day User Experience Workshop put on by Adaptive Path. This was one of the most conprehensive sessions/classes I had ever been to on the approach and skills needed to develop a usable Web site. As many of us know the Adaptive Path folks are taking this great session on the road and adding a third day using a local professional to help bring it all home. This may be the most productive money you spend all year. Those that come to your sites and pay for your work with receive an even greater benefit. Do it for yourself and for the users of what you produce.

The following is a better description by the Adaptive Path folks describing the Washington, DC (actually held in Arlington, Virginia) sessions:
Design theories don't help if you can't make them work in actual day-to-day practice. Increasingly, sites must respond to the realities of scant budgets and greater financial return. Adaptive Path's User Experience Workshops will prepare you to meet these challenges with usable tools for putting design theory into practice today. You'll spend the first two days with Adaptive Path partners Jeffrey Veen, Peter Merholz, and Lane Becker. They'll show you how to incorporate user goals, business needs, and organizational awareness into your design process. You'll develop a project plan, learn methods for research and design, and create clear documentation. You'll learn the same strategies Adaptive Path has successfully practiced for a wide range of companies, including Fortune 500s, startups, and not-for-profits.

Additionally, on day 3 we will be joined by information architect extraordinaire Thom Haller, who will talk about "The Value of Structure." In this workshop, he'll draw on twenty years experience in professional communication to explore the possibilities inherent in structure, and its value to others. As participants, you'll have the opportunity to see structure through users' eyes. You'll learn a measurements-based, performance-focused structure for gathering, evaluating, chunking, knowing, and organizing content. You'll have a chance to "sample" different structures (such as narrative) and see how they offer value to organizations and their constituencies.

You'll leave the workshop inspired and equipped with design techniques and a library of documentation templates that you can use right away -- so that your web site will satisfy your users, your management and you! But wait--there's more! Or, rather, less! As in--DISCOUNTS! If you sign up with the promotional code "FOTV" (without the quotes), we'll knock the price down from $1,195 to $956 -- a 20% discount.

For more information:

May 28, 2002

ASIS&T content management cancelled

I am much bothered by the ASIS&T content management conference being cancelled. I was looking forward to attending. The cancellation explains why I could not find the information to sign-up this past weekend.

April 16, 2002

I am really wishing the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference was a little later in the year, like September. I really want to go to this, but I have no vacation (I currently work for a company that requires you to take vacation to speak at or attend tech conferences. Even taking tech courses requires vacation, although they pay for tech courses). I will be in NoCal later in that week for a very quick fly in and out quasi-work related event.

I am really wishing the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference was a little later in the year, like September. I really want to go to this, but I have no vacation (I currently work for a company that requires you to take vacation to speak at or attend tech conferences. Even taking tech courses requires vacation, although they pay for tech courses). I will be in NoCal later in that week for a very quick fly in and out quasi-work related event.

April 7, 2002

Of conference interest for Web and mobile types: 9th International World Wide Web Conference in Amsterdam, NL; Thunder Lizard's Web Design World 2002. These look to be interesting, particularly the International WWW Conference, which offers the mobile perspective.

March 30, 2002

CeBit a portal to the future

In reading Brian Livingston's Symbian cell-through, I found it contained a great intro paragraph...

I'VE traveled to this German city to cover developments of interest to Windows users at CeBit, indisputably the world's largest computer trade show. More than three-quarters of a million souls wander its 27 convention halls each year. Regrettably, only 1 percent of CeBit's visitors are Americans. That's a shame because hot technology often bursts forth in the European market first, taking a year or two to be adapted for the States.

It seems that CeBit and not Comdex is the big tech show in the world. Not only is it the biggest, but the on the leading edge.

March 19, 2002

There are Quicktime clips of SXSW sessions and interviews, which includes one from the Josh Davis session. It is rough and not in context, but it does offer a good snippet of Josh and the magnetic dots.

March 16, 2002

I spent this evening at the IA Summit and found some of the folks from SXSW there in Baltimore. I spent much of the evening hanging out with the other Boxes and Arrows staff. I have never met some of the other staff that are in Baltimore now. I did get to meet some of the former Argonauts, which was a huge kick. I spent much of this evening playing with ideas and hanging out with more very bright and passionate folks. I could really get used to this, but conference life must end. More tomorrow or Sunday (yes it is late for me, too late) when I get back.

March 14, 2002

The SXSW 2002 Things Gallery is posted. Some of these items will be posted as wallpaper for your pleasure. I am finally putting together a photo page, but it will not be ready until next week most likely.

Finally I have my photos of the people of SXSW 2002 up on line. Many thanks again to PB's SnapGallery that powered the page builds.

Tomorrow evening the IA Summit begins. This kick start an intense two days of just IA. I will finally get to see the rest of my cohorts on the Boxes and Arrows staff

March 13, 2002

P Swag

This year's SXSW Interactive was very different than most conferences in that the best swag was the personal swag. My prized possessions are Scott's mini CD with Walkingbirds songs, a CamWorld t-shirt, a Kuro5shin t-shirt, and a ton of amazing business cards and postcards. I felt like such a loser with out anything to offer.

March 12, 2002

Yesterday was all about getting the synapses to fire in the right order at SXSWi. I was running on sever sleep deprivation from phones and alarm clocks ringing when I had not finished my needed sleep cycle. None-the-less I had a great time. I greatly enjoyed Steve Champeon's peer panel on Non-Traditional Web Design, as it focussed on the fine art of tagging content, understanding the uses of information, and the true separation of content, presentation, and application controlling the information. The Web Demo panel I was on seemed to go rather well as there were a broad spectrum of sites reviewed and the information from the panel to the developers was of great use (I hope) as I think we all learned something.

The evening provided good entertainment, a wonderful gattering at the EFF party. Once again many folks adjourned to the Omni Hotel lobby for the after-hours social gathering. I spent much of the time just listening to conversation and occasionally partaking. Of intrigue was Rusty of Kuro5hin and Adam of Brian of Slashdot discussion development of site tools that will help a dynamic site fly, keep in mind all these tools are in Perl.

March 11, 2002

I would gladly buy 10 more hours a day from somebody so that I could sleep and still have time to take in everything at SXSW. Last night's entertainment included Fray Cafe 2 which was utterly amazing. The stories were completely moving me to laughter, tears, joy, and understanding. It truely was a wonderful live storytelling event.

The SXSW panel that amazed me yesterday was the first independent content panel, which included Jeffery Zeldman, Derek Powazek, Josh Davis, and the creator of Born Magazine. The interaction on the panel, not only about independent content production, but design understanding pushed my small envelope. I think it was the Josh that opened my eyes farther than they have been in a while. This panel brought to life what I love about SXSW, I grow more comfortable knowing what I do know and that I definately understand more than I give myself credit for knowing, but also it kick my butt with the knowledge that I have only scratched the surface of what is possible.

I want more time to just sleep and time to hang out and absorb in the great conversations and spend more time with friends who view the world very much like they way I do. SXSW provides a wonderful feeling of belonging to a tribe of people that are passionate about this digital connectivity tool of the Web and Internet. Passion is the key and the jam packed rooms yesterday were a testament that the passion is very much alive.

There was another panel, or more aptly a discussion lead by Lane Becker revolving around the understanding of what the Internet has really brought us and how has it really changed the way we do things. The topic also drifted on to the fears of that is great about the Internet being legislated away by folks that really do not have even the most basic grasp of how this medium for interaction, information sharing and gathering, entertainment, and commerce can be moved forward. There was a lot of discussion that we only have hit the tip of the iceberg and that we really do not have a solid grasp of what just happened in the past six years.

Pictures may be up soon, or then again...

March 9, 2002

SXSW is Back

Ah, it is good to be back in Austin at SXSW. Last evening's gathering of a multitude of folks at the Iron Catus, a gathering orchestrated Brad, for dinner and drinks then on to karaoke. Austin is a tad bit humid at the moment, which is doing my allergies and infection some good.

The good conversations have begun and the mind is whurring. This is a very good thing. I am hoping to post some more while I am here and hoping to post photos, but these efforts take some time and well, this is Austin and SXSW.

March 7, 2002

I am feeling marginally better, thanks for asking. My head really is not properly attached as of yet. None-the-less I am packing so to head out to Austin for SXSW tomorrow. I will be in Austin tomorrow evening and most likely abstaining from Shiner and other forms of adult beverages, so conversation, caffine, and food will have to do. Please say hello if you see me (probably wearing blue and orange proudly). Those of you I miss I may see at the IA Summit in Baltimore the following weekend.

March 1, 2002

Hello March. This means SXSW Interactive is just days away.

February 28, 2002

Can I tell you how ready for sleep I am? This week included the approach of an ISO audit at work, end of the month usual stuff, tons of paperwork for work and home, spending time with my wonderful parents that were in town (although they stayed in a private club/hotel that lost them when I was trying to meet them for dinner), realized I could not find my running shoes I liked (hello Adidas for home delivery), figured out that the ASIS IA Summit is largely on a weekend that I have not away and close by in Baltimore (hello I am now going), finally got tired of my cell phone and its poor battery life and my non-national call plan for that phone that put me back more than $300 while stuck in SF around Sept. 11 (vavoom a new phone and a national plan, which includes e-mail, text messaging, and Web and a much longer battery life), and allergy season beginning. I also realized I leave for Austin a week from tomorrow.

February 26, 2002

This evening I went to a jam packed AIGA DC event, Good Design is Smart Business 6, which included a panel discussing design and experience design as it relates to building a businnes' brand. The panel included Hillman Curtis, Neal Boulton, and Brian Jacobs of Pentagram. Hillman discussed the redesign of Adobe and pointed to the Web environment offering a double barrel of visual and functional design. Hillman had one of the best quotes that a "Web designer has to think of every pixel and the role it plays in brand". Brian Jacobs was another favorite of mine on this panel discussing his role in redesigning the Muzak brand. The brand now encompasses the organization, which was amazing. If you have the opportunity to see Hillman or Brian speak it is well worth the effort to see them.

February 5, 2002

Welcome folks venturing here from Digital Web. Information about last years SXSW Interactive Festival can be found in my March and April Off the Top entries. You will also want to check out the SXSWBaby group blog to help you make up your mind to go. You will have a great time and meet others that are passionate about the Web (you came here from Digital Web right?).

New Digital Web issue out with the feature article by yours truly, entitled SXSW and Between. This is the first weekly issue that Digital Web has done.

January 24, 2002

Can you say SXSWBaby? Knew you could. If you are going to SXSW Interactive Festival this is the place to get the dirt.

December 4, 2001

After reading Nick Finck's notes from the Web Design World 2001 in New Orleans and reading the Web Design World 2001 Agenda I think I may have to make the trip next year. I am very intrigued with the Open Source elements of the conference combined with the Web design/development aspects. Open Source tools have treated me far better than any proprietary tool ever has in the past. I am not interested in the cost as much as how solid the tools are, which leads me to Open Source.

November 15, 2001

I am really looking forward to South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive as I am now a confirmed speaker. There are many other wonderful speakers on fantastic panels that will spark wonderful conversation, and share knowledge and experience.

November 14, 2001

Those of you visiting from the SXSW link may be interested in my posts from last around year's events. Pre-SXSW, March 9, at SXSW March 12, post-SXSW March 14, post-SXSW March 15, and finally more post-SXSW March 25.

If you enjoy the building the Web, and/or the larger Internet do yourself the favor and spend the relatively small amount and get to SXSW. This conference is not a budget buster, the people are wonderful sharing makers of the Internet, and Austin is a great place to hang out.

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