IDEA 2009: Social and Experience Design – Day 1

I’m in Toronto this week for IDEA 2009, the conference run by the Information Architecture Institute. This year’s theme is Social and Experience Design. Speakers from a variety of backgrounds are helping us understand how to make informed and insightful design decisions based on the ever-changing landscape of the web caused in large part by social media.

Day 1 featured a great lineup:

My Twitter notes from the conference are below. Enjoy!


Luke Wroblewski

  • Luke W @lukewdesign is up now talking about the Impact of Social Models.
  • @lukewdesign talking about the project in the 80s to reduce crime in NYC by removing subway cars with graffiti.
  • “Broken windows” theory suggests that our behavior is shaped by our environment. This was discussed in Gladwell’s Tipping Point
  • The Power of Context. Small features of context can produce huge diff in behavior. So how are online social models shaping behavior?
  • @lukewdesign showing Idiots of Ants’ “Facebook in Real Life” video: Hilarious!
  • Social relationships modeled online: 1) no relationship, 2) community, 3) groups (public, semi-public, private)…
  • …4) Symmetrical/2-way, 5) Asymmetrical/1-way (permissioned/blocked)
  • These are the social models that are out there. @lukewdesign asks, “Are there differences in contribution for each of these models?”
  • @lukewdesign loose stat: 480% jump in contribution when relationships increase by 20
  • No relationship model refers to any two people on the web using the same product even when there’s no explicit connection b/w them
  • Ex of community (1-to-many relationship) is Yahoo! Answers. 700k askers, 550k answerers. Found one connected component of 1.2M nodes
  • In a community, 1% are creators, 10% are curators, 100% are consumers. On Wikipedia 1.8% of the users write 70% of the articles
  • Group (1-to-many relationship) is a set of people within a community. They can be relationship-based (events, assoc) or topical
  • Relationship-based groups have more messages but they’re much broader set of topics. Topical participation is by fewer people
  • Groups are listed (found through search) and unlisted (invite only). Open, restricted (diff levels of access), or closed (moderator)
  • Symmetrical model is confirmed and controlled by both sides. It’s a handshake. Can be used to mirror real world relationships.
  • In a symmetrical model, when either side severs, relationship is gone, often without notification.
  • 10% of users account for 30% of production. 12% of FB users update status daily. 40% in last 7 days.
  • Asymmetrical model is fan/follow, declared by 1 side w/o reciprocation. Supports multiple relationship structures, often more public
  • “The asymmetrical model is really simple on the surface, just choose to follow someone, but there’s a lot going on underneath.”
  • Y! Messenger is an example of permissioned 1-way model. A sends B request. B accepts, then A has to accept.
  • On Twitter, 10% of users account for 90% of production. Check out more on his blog:
  • Relationship limits exist: 120 avg # of friends per FB user. 92.4% of Twitter users follow less than 100 ppl
  • Dunbar number: people can only maintain connections with approx 148 people’s_number
  • Tight knit circles flourish. 90% of Twitter user’s “friends” reciprocate attention by being friends as well (2 1-way relationships)
  • So many #s in @lukewdesign‘s talk! I’m interested in all of these for a project I’m working on, but can’t capture them all this fast
  • 1-way relationships optimize for reach. Having followers encourages contribution and builds audiences. Allows messages to amplify
  • 90% of FB page’s fans can be part of a single connected group. 15% of all fans arrived independently and started their own chain
  • These patterns hold for pages with few thousands of fans as well as those with more than 50,000 fans. Pretty amazing statistic
  • Hey everyone, it’s NOT @lukew, it’s @lukewdesign. Pass it on!

Leisa Reichelt

  • Leisa Reichelt @leisa is up now giving a talk titled “Bare Naked Design: Reflections on Designing with an Open Source Community”
  • @leisa is talking about her experience working on the Drupal 7 UX project
  • @leisa showing her We Need You! intro video to the Drupal 7 UX project
  • They told the Drupal community: “We want your rejection…urgently.” Takes a very humble designer to do that. Impressive
  • @leisa says: “Community is the design challenge.” Something we all need to internalize
  • Some folks who use Drupal:, IxDA, The Economist, Sony BMG & more. Not just a geek platform. But not known for good UX
  • @leisa‘s partner on the Drupal 7 UX project is @markboulton. He’s not at the conference, but deserves the props as well
  • “I don’t think there’s anyone who can claim to have been successful at integrating UX and dev on an open source project” — @leisa
  • @leisa describing the evolution of the D7UX project, talking about the various methods they used and whether they were successful
  • “We were spending upwards of 80% of our time just communicating.” Very little time actually designing. That can be frustrating
  • HA! is a WordPress blog. “We didn’t have the time or the skills to set up Drupal.” — @leisa HA HA
  • Video wasn’t just a broadcast for them, but was an interactive media for them. Used for crowdsourced usability testing
  • They created a usability testing kit for users to go out and conduct their own tests on their Drupal site, showed how using video
  • @Fusebox‘s uses Drupal
  • @bnunnally — My disciples!
  • D7UX: success or failure? @leisa not showing screenshots cuz that’s too surface level. Does it look prettier? Yes. But is it better?
  • @leisa not confident that the improvements will be long-lasting. D7 might not have better learning curve than previous versions
  • Many things that @leisa & @markboulton wanted to achieve didn’t make their way into the redesign. That’s life. But project worth it
  • Some things @leisa has learned: 1. It’s not designers vs. developers that’s the problem, it’s Framework vs Product. AMAZING QUOTE
  • @leisa just gave me the words I’ve always been looking for. I just exhaled
  • 2. Designing in the open is a great thing to do for your peers. We don’t often get to see each other’s work.
  • 3. It’s possible to survive sporadic personal attacks for 6 months without going totally bonkers.
  • Join “A community of practice for design & user experience people in Open Source”
  • Agreed! Makes me wish I’d done more outreach w @boxee. RT @emenel: Great presentation from @leisa on open source ux. v inspirational

Thomas Malaby

  • Up next is Thomas Malaby from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on “Making Virtual Worlds: Games & the Human for a Digital Age”
  • Learn more about Thomas Malaby at
  • “Games are good at creating contrived openness” — Thomas Malaby. Hope I got that quote right
  • Because games are persistent and open-ended, people can accumulate social capital and credentials. He’s referring to MMORPGs
  • @bnunnally I don’t even know what that means!
  • Thomas Malaby is on Twitter @tmmalaby, but he’s protected
  • Game built to prompt social experience along the way until you reach the endgame which is an individual experience. Sounds like life
  • @tmmalaby showing this photo: So cool!
  • Philip Rosedale, Founder of Linden Lab: “I didn’t go in feeling like we’re going to make people’s lives better…
  • …But I did go into it feeling like none of it was interesting unless there were a lot of people involved.”
  • RT @orian #idea09 what I think is missing w Second Life is ultimately it’s a private entity. There needs to be an open version (AOL vs web)
  • Really wish this stuff resonated w me. I see the relevance, just doesn’t reach me. Maybe my feelings about gamers turns my brain off
  • Check out Malaby’s book: Making Virtual Worlds
  • This stuff makes me think of Prof Randy Pausch. RIP
  • @orian & I are working on a Twitter app together. Join him for lunch today to share your insights on usage patterns & feature ideas

Christina Wodtke

  • Christina Wodtke @cwodtke is up now talking about Social Spaces Online: Lessons from Radical Architects
  • Is online the new “3rd place”? We’ve got home, office and ____. Used to be in the physical space, but that’s gone away
  • @cwodtke talking about Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Palace made earthquake proof
  • “Social earthquakes” at LinkedIn: recruiters who spam groups with jobs can be handled with a “Move to Jobs” link or “Report as spam”
  • Prepare for technical execution, maintenance, scale and bandwidth; social innocents/idiots, trolls, spammers, criminals
  • Essentially @cwodtke is saying that there are social patterns we need to be aware of and design for them
  • “Early in life I had to chosen between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility…
  • …I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Delight: “when the appearance of the work is pleasing and in good taste…
  • …and when its members are in due proportion according to correct principles of symmetry.”
  • @cwodtke recommends following community architect @Amyjokim
  • @cwodtke‘s slide showing the Nn/g crew
  • @cwodtke going through her list of radical architects and their lessons
  • Space. Here’s @cwodtke‘s model for shaping social space
  • Site: location affects the nature of what we build. Online, context=site. What we’re building on determines shape of the experience
  • Structure: the materials we use have a shape & nature that yearn for a certain implementation. They will affect our users’ behavior
  • Speed. Think about how fast people are experiencing your product. When theyre signing up, let them fly through. Then speed up gently
  • Movement. @cwodtke showing Frank Gehry’s Dancing House Design with composition principles

Mary Newsom

  • Up now Mary Newsom on The Information Superhighway: Urban Renewal or Neighborhood Destruction? She’s assoc ed for Charlotte Observer
  • I’m very confused by this chart. What’s the sample? Were the same people polled each time?
  • I love people from other disciplines, but I’m not seeing the connection here. Can someone clue me in?
  • Wow. And now we’re talking about death panels.
  • I disagree. Tweets about good burritos are very relevant to me. Do you know how hard it is to find a good burrito in NYC?!
  • Mary Newsom leaves us with: “Maybe you get what you pay for.” I hear you, but sometimes what you pay for is packaged drivel
  • RT @livlab: journalists: pls defend your awesome journalism, but let go of the medium! it’s the medium that isn’t working, not you!

Maya Kalman

  • Up now is event/experience planner Maya Kalman on Does Designing a Social Experience Affect How We Party? Of Course It Does!
  • Awww Maya is using the logo for the wrong IDEA conference :)
  • Event design is about creating experiences. Social gatherings are “far more than a collection of events…”
  • An event planner matches client’s wants, goals and needs to a target audience. Sound familiar?
  • “The real mark of an event planner is to be able to control uncontrollable circumstances.” — Maya Kalman. Well said
  • “Events are unpredictable, so always have a contingency plan. And sometimes a contingency for your contingency.”
  • “You don’t have to believe in feng shui to understand that your surroundings contribute to your experience.”
  • Maya Kalman talking about the quality of surroundings: “I’m a city girl, but my husband is from New Hampshire…unfortunately.”
  • RT @bnunnally Good design puts us at ease and helps us relax. We know the creators are trying to take care of our needs.
  • RT @bnunnally: Good design removes barriers and allows people to be more social and open.
  • Leaving guests in one area often tires them and bores them. More movement = more dynamic event. Makes them feel like more happened
  • THIS is how you take a tangential practice and make it relevant for us. THANK YOU Maya Kalman
  • “I like to know that I’ve arrived at an event and immediately feel immersed in it.” Just a focus to answering a simple question
  • Lightbulbs are going off over my head in full force. I need a transcript of this presentation. We consultants need these analogies!
  • “People eat with their eyes…and that doesn’t always pertain to food.”
  • “Moments of luxury” when you transport your guests to another place & time like they’re truly the VIPs in the room. Socialize w ease
  • Invitation sets the tone and focus of the event. Connects guests to the social experience by having to act
  • Maya Kalman’s company Swank sent a single Manolo Blahnik shoe as invite & said you’ll get the other shoe when you RSVP Yes. AMAZING
  • “If you want to get people talking, have them wear nametags.”
  • “It’s all about the little details…that’s what people talk about.” Reminds me of @armano‘s Micro Interactions
  • Presentation is everything. Well thought out and done with style. Gives everything a higher sense of value.
  • “Better off doing fewer elements well than doing lots of things mediocrely.” So people in other industries believe that too? Phew!
  • @russu It’s so comforting, isn’t it?
  • Holy crap! @adamhirsch of @mashable just got a shoutout by Maya Kalman. Hi Adam!
  • RT @livlab Event design safety concerns are equal to business rules in web design
  • Maya Kalman’s talk kicked ass. We need to remember these basic principles and how/THAT they pertain outside of just UX
  • “I believe in never making the same mistake twice…Gain as much information from clients and guests.” Videotapes feedback at event

Jeff Dachis

  • @jeffdachis Jeff Dachis is up now talking about User Experience as a Crucial Driver of Social Business Design
  • @leisa I would rephrase: nice to hear so many great speakers (many of whom happen to be female) :)
  • “User experience in the digital world is the key definer value.” That’s what @jeffdachis‘s company is based on
  • @jeffdachis and co developed Social Business Design framework. Understand constituents in biz ecosystem, how they interact
  • @jeffdachis going through the four models of social business design. 1) Ecosystem: from disparate silos to connected nodes
  • 2. Hivemind: from hoarding to collaborating. Willingness to share ideas and connect with one another. Crucial component to success
  • 3. Dynamic signal: from static to dynamic. “Communication as work, not for work.” Twittering isn’t free time, it’s the work itself
  • “Dynamic signal is about process efficiency” Make what used to take hours into just a few minutes by signaling more frequently
  • 4. Metafilter: from filter failure to clear signals. “Finding meaning in all the noise” Filter, tag, sort and make meaning of it all
  • These are the social archetypes that @dachisgroup discusses with their clients.
  • Why social business design? Cost savings & efficiencies, informed social mktg strategies, new product/service offerings/innovations
  • Improved collaborative processes, adaptable business practices, customer growth/retention/sustainability, expansion into new markets
  • “I’m really confident that we can have an impact on commerce, communication and culture. This is a very exciting business to be in.”
  • @gabbyhon sad how buzzwords pay the bills, huh?
  • Wonderful first day at IDEA. Can’t wait to discuss all the things we heard at dinner tonight. Stay tuned to the blog for recap post

Related Posts:


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by reynish. reynish said: RT & ty to @whitneyhess New blog post: IDEA 2009: Social and Experience Design – Day 1 Very interesting read […]

  2. […] RSS ← IDEA 2009: Social and Experience Design – Day 1 […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *