Late last night I got back from the IA Summit in Austin. The Summit was great as it sparked a few ideas, I learned new things, I got to see friends of like minds, and learned the world is still alright. The Summit Blog offers a good snapshot of the Summit. I could not have enjoyed the Summit without James' iCal of the Summit as I was able to drop it into my Personal InfoCloud and truly get what I wanted out of the Summit.
The sessions were very good this year, there was always something I wanted to attend (on a few occasions there was more than one session I really wanted to attend). I really enjoyed Jesse's James Garrett'sBrand-driven IA session which was entertaining and insightful. Victor Lombardi's Incorporating Research on Navigation into a Design Method really gave me a strong insight into some of the current research, particularly a summary of Andrew Dillion's Shape of Information, that helped flesh out some of my own ideas. The UT Austin student's presentation on Extreme IA, using Extreme Programming methodologies for IA research and tasks. Tony Byrne's Critical Review of Enterprise CMS was extremely valuable for myself as it made the current CMS marketplace more coherent for me (I went to an all day session on CSM on Friday that was largely an echo of much of my CMS experience and provided a few good insights that I did not have in my tool belt, which did not strike as large of a chord as the Critical Review).
I need a little time and sleep to digest the conference some more.
I knew the Summit would be jam packed into nearly all my waking hours so I was looking forward to the travel time to write and reflect. My trek to Austin was an educational experience as I had purchased US Air tickets off Travelocity for the round trip. My ticketing info said US Air flights with partners United and CanadaAir. On Thursday evening I stood in a non-moving line at the airport for 45 minutes only to jump the line to ask about my flight. The agent said, "We no longer run the flights to Chicago, you are now on a flight run completely by United". I went to United to find out I was very late (30 minutes before the flight and trying to point to the long line at US Air and trying to eek out the words 45 minutes). It was a fast trek behind the counter agent as she rushed me to the short security line with my carry-on and my check-in bag as I did not have time to check my bag and I was short on time to get to the last gate out on the airports tendril. That morning I moved my small pocket knives to my check-in luggage so I would have the ever resourceful and needed tools in Austin. I was stuck in Security as they dug out the offending .75 inch pen Swiss Army knife and the regular sized one then rescanned my bag.
By the time I got to the gate the doors to the flight had shut (10 minutes before the flight). I was on to the adventure of finding a flight or series of flights to Austin assisted by the helpful gate agent. He tried 9 different combinations as he muttered about the snow in Atlanta and the Carolinas. Finally he said he was going to make a last ditch effort with Continental. I followed him to the gate to Houston and was able to get a seat to Houston and a connection to Austin on the last flight to Austin. Then a snag. The flight was leaving in three minutes, but my ticket was a US Air ticket for a United flight and needed to be converted by US Air to United so they could in-turn transfer it to Continental. The helpful gate agent said he would go back out to the lobby and exchange the ticket and he took off jogging. Five minutes later he returned with my exchanged tickets and they reopened the gate doors and the very helpful Continental gate agent carted my luggage down the gateway, but with out the wheelie extending handle out so he looked like a hunchback galloping after me). I finally sat in my seat and was quite numb from the experience). I was able to relax a little and write a little on the flight and on my 2 hour plus layover in Houston, but only about a third of what I had hoped to get done.
For the return flights I decided to leave even earlier for the Airport. It was a good thing I did so as I went looking for US Air and CanadaAir (regional) for my flight back as that is what the ticketing said, with both flights co-branded with United. The Austin airport does not have a presence for US Air nor CanadaAir. I thought I was in for another great adventure. This time I tried United first (no other closely related options). I handed the ticketing agent my ID and she handed me my United tickets, but my flight was delayed with "wheels up" at 5:40 and boarding at 6:00pm. This was as confusing as the rest of the trip for me so I just went with it. It turns out I was on a small regional jet that did not have enough room to write on the laptop, but I did have a great seatmate that had also been to the conference and we had a very good chat. The flight from Chicago home was the usual tight forward accommodation that does not permit opening a laptop. But, I did get home after 1am this morning.
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