The Excellence better known as Interaction10 #ixd10

I just got home from Savannah last night, and I’m already missing everyone terribly. The four days I spent there at IxDA’s Interaction10, their third annual conference, was one of the best conference experiences I’ve ever had (and as you may know, I go to a lot of conferences!).

Not only is Savannah a wonderfully beautiful, slow-paced, historic, elegant town, that on the whole pays extraordinary attention to customer service — the experience of the conference itself was designed to a tee.

This has been the case with the past two Interaction conferences as well, but something was missing last year when it was held in Vancouver. I loved the city, but the conference was held in two hotels, and didn’t have the same flourishes that I have come to expect from the Interaction Design Association (IxDA).

This year, back in Savannah (the inaugural conference was held here), the spirit of the community was at an all-time high. I went into it knowing I would be inspired by the sessions and excited to spend time with old friends, but I never expected that I would meet so many new people (some whom I knew from afar and some I had not yet heard of).

It finally occurred to me that the size of this “community” that I speak of so often is actually infinite. There is no boundary around us. We are always expanding, always moving into new corners, absorbing other practices, and finding people who are just starting to identify themselves. It’s so thrilling to know that we can never possibly all meet each other, that there’s always going to be someone new out there to teach us something we never knew, make us think in ways we haven’t considered, and generally elevate the visibility of our profession to the world.

As usual I captured the moments that meant the most to me via Twitter. I hope you enjoy living vicariously through the notes (or reliving, as the case may be).

See you in Boulder, CO! (I’ve already registered)

goodbye #ixd10 and Savannah! thanks for having us!

Day 0

  • “Interaction 10 welcomes you! Welcome to Savannah!” (Don’t get that greeting at every UX conference!) #ixd10
  • Only one thing wrong with my beautiful hotel room at the quaint Planters Inn: no desk. That’s ok though cuz I prefer my lap.
  • Free wi-fi in the hotel room at Planters Inn on Reynolds Square. Even the Sheraton doesn’t do that
  • I somehow missed the memo on the total AWESOMENESS of the #ixd10 venues this year. Sessions being held in a restaurant, a pharmacy, a square
  • Bummed that it’s so cold and windy in Savannah today. What’s a good place to go that’s indoors?
  • Funny quirk about the elevators at Planters Inn: the two banks operate on two different sets call buttons, so make sure you push both
  • At the Jepson Center for the Arts. Yes, that is a giant plastic bag tube that looks like intestines #ixd10
  • !!!!! RT @zakiwarfel: Time lapse video of design, sketching and prototyping for #rwtw #ixd10
  • If you’re at #ixd10 and have a cartoonish avatar, please change it temporarily to your real photo so people can spot you and say hello!
  • More !!!! from @russu #rwtw
  • Downloading my first ever app to my iPod Touch…the IxDA Interaction10 app of course!
  • @livebysatellite @lukanx @erinhawk @morville @dantemurphy @tuvafk @martytdx @robtannen @oyvindstrandbc @monicaferro @vickytnz @adenademonte
  • That’s who I had a great dinner with tonight at Ruan Thai! Now we’re off to Moon River for beeeer.

Trustees Theater

Day 1

  • #ixd10 starts now! I’m soo excited to hear what the amazing minds in our community are thinking about. Will surely leave me changed
  • I really wish there were power outlets around the theater.
  • Nathan Shedroff is giving the opening keynote. Is he not on Twitter?
  • Shedroff says the only thing businesses can count on for lasting, organic growth is innovation. It’s the only true path
  • “Everything we create is an experience.” But experience is essentially invisible, so it’s difficult for people to understand & value
  • #nts Read Pine and Gilmore’s The Experience Economy
  • Customers are looking for consistency across touchpoints with a company. Experiences need to be holistic to feel comfortable
  • Companies should feel like one person. Customers can grow to know and understand that person over time = increase loyalty
  • Designing experiences need to take several things into account. 1) Breadth = product, service, brand, name, environment, price
  • 2) Trigger = sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, concepts, symbols. Consider the cultural implications about each of these when design
  • I am not on top of my game on this live-Twittering. It’s still too early for me. Follow @bnunnally for amazing running commentary
  • You need to understand how your customers prioritize them in order to design the most meaningful experiences
  • Shedroff found there are 15 universal meanings: accomplishment, beauty, creation, community, duty, enlightenment, freedom, harmony…
  • …justice, oneness, redemption, security, truth, validation and wonder. But everyone prioritizes them differently.
  • What are the top 5 means for your organization? Ideally you should be doing research to find this out. And what about for yourself?
  • Whoops, some tweets got out of order there
  • There needs to be a UX conference at the expert level where speakers talk about concepts we aren’t already thinking about
  • This is a good presentation but I feel like it’s for the wrong audience. CEOs & Product VPs need to hear this, we’re already doing it
  • What’s the deal with wi-fi in The Olde Pink House ballroom?
  • Wi-fi at the restaurant is hidden. Go to “Join Other Network…” and type PinkHouseWiFi it’s an open connection
  • The lovely and amazing @bobulate is up now talking about Frames: Notes on Improvisation and Design
  • @bobulate reminds us that many of our first experiences with improvisation was playing the game of Telephone as a kid
  • Each person is reanalyzing and reinterpreting the phrase that’s passed along the circle. Tension between the creator and the consumer
  • “That tension is where co-creation can happen” – @bobulate Signs of all kinds help us to improvise our way through experiences always
  • @bobulate asks what if we allow for improvisation in the experiences we design. By putting frames into the design where it can happen
  • @bobulate grew up playing instruments with her family. She was attracted to jazz because of its lack of constraints, improvisation
  • She finds that jazz & design share many same values. @bobulate telling Miles Davis in converted church story, birth of modal jazz
  • @bobulate playing some Chopin while we look at sheet music. This represents a closed system of design…
  • Closed system: prior knowledge needed, a right and wrong way of doing things, a system of notation. While jazz is an open system
  • Emergent systems of design require no specialized knowledge, judged on deviation from the original, no right or wrong behaviors
  • @bobulate is looking at the shift from closed to emergent systems in history to learn from its lessons. This is gonna get real cool
  • Attributes of improv patterns that are present across disciplines: 1) Present. 2) Detectable. 3) Responsive. 4) Additive
  • Present = involves the audience. Detectable = requires no prior knowledge. Responsive = defines parameters in the moment.
  • Lastly, and my favorite: Additive = accepts all offers. Yes, and. Collaboration. “Plussing” is what Pixar calls it
  • @iamshimone Stephanie & woman-I-don’t-yet-know at front of room “improvising” by saying what first comes to mind looking at slides
  • “Yes, and” exercise an example of “soloing” — the part of our brain responsible for monitoring shuts down and storytelling lights up
  • “This brain activity is what we see when a person is dreaming. So as designers, how do we mimic this behavior in our experiences?”
  • I’m now at @gregvassallo‘s session on what living in the hospital for the year with his son & wife taught him about design consulting
  • @gregvassallo & I went to CMU’s MHCI program together, & he’s a wonderful guy. Learn about his son’s story at
  • I know this story, but hearing @gregvassallo tell it from the beginning is incredibly moving. It’s giving me chills now
  • NOTICE: The events scheduled for the Square today are taking place in the Lucas Theater
  • @gregvassallo is talking about the experience of living in the hospital while his infant son was treated for a rare form of leukemia
  • They decorated the hotel room, brought in a coffee maker, had all of Luca’s toys, made it their own. And the staff played a big role
  • The slew of doctors that helped Luca over the course of the year is incredible, but there were other folks who aided in the process..
  • Music and art therapists, clowns, knitting teachers, and more came to help both Luca and his parents get through the experience
  • Healthcare related to design consulting = both coordinate large, interdisciplinary teams, explore multi solutions to complex probs
  • Both require building consensus and trust, iterate and change course, charge a lot of money
  • Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers by yourself. 5) It’s ok to disagree. Not everyone on the team will feel the same way
  • 6) Admit to mistakes, and learn from them. Be honest about where you went wrong. What are you going to do better next time?
  • 7) It’s ok to say, “I don’t know.” Because when you do know, it will give people a lot more confidence in your answers.
  • 8) Treat the patient, not the illness. An illness is like a fully formed design challenge. You might be missing the big picture
  • 9) Methodology can only take you so far. (amen) Don’t fetishize the methodological process or you’ll end up obscuring the design prob
  • @gregvassallo did an incredible job. Such poignant and relatable lessons. Make sure to check out to learn more
  • I’m getting chills listening to the comments & questions from the audience. It seems people were really moved by @gregvassallo‘s talk
  • Lunch at The Olde Pink House with @rayraydel @cchastain @michelet @lwcavallucci and @nickheise … and many other #ixd10 -ers
  • Rain = not awesome
  • Fabulous discussion about interaction design education and profession taking place in the Lucas Theater
  • From Observing Failures to Provoking Them has *packed* The Olde Pink House. Nicolas Nova talking about failure of automatic devices
  • The “individual-blame bias” is when people don’t think they know enough to figure something out. Read sociologist Everett Rogers
  • I love this concept of failure as a design technique. By creating failed uses you can identify new ways to invent the future
  • Can someone explain how tonight’s festivities have changed? Sounded like what’s already on the schedule.
  • Lovely dinner @ 700 Drayton w @russu Nicolle @stellargirl @yoni @annaknoll @stephenanderson @zakiwarfel @judyphilip @megfrisch @uxjam
  • It will be disastrous if I don’t meet @willsansbury and @lorenbaxter by Sunday

Savannah Black: most gorgeous dark shade of purlple I've ever seen. #ixd10

Day 2

  • Oops. Got to the Day 2 opening keynote late, so no live-Twittering for me. I’ll step up my game next session
  • Manzini is talking about interaction design as social service design, right? Can we agree now that they’re the same thing?
  • Interaction design = changing behavior through the interface of a system = service design /cc: @livlab @mojoguzzi
  • I’m really jiving on this talk. I think the world that Manzini is talking about is much closer than we all realize
  • I’m at @timoarnall‘s Designing for the Web in the World. He’s starting out by talking about RFID tags embedded in all sorts of goods
  • @timoarnall is showing some videos on experiments of new, more playful, explorative interactions using RFID-enabled phones
  • RFID waves are invisible, but how might we start thinking of it as and working with it as a design material?
  • Watching videos so it’s harder to capture the essence of what’s happening. Instead of RFID for simply identification, adding emotion
  • Nike is the prototypical RFID product. A shoe that talks to the web, a few years ago would have seemed radical, now it’s common
  • Glanceable displays that are physical in the environment, not necessarily a screen, in your peripheral attention that give you data
  • Nike data being sent to Twitter creates an immediate satisfaction that validates and encourages your behavior.
  • I love how soft spoken @timoarnall is. The audience is hanging on his every word
  • There’s a long-term incentive in using an object for a long time, that changes your use of it over time and your relationship to exp
  • This is exactly the kind of session I love at a UX conference. Lots of real world examples of the work we could be doing, how and why
  • Yay! The super awesome @k is now presenting Augmented Reality: Is It Real? Should We Care?
  • Augmented Reality term invented 18 years ago by Tom Caudell at Boeing. It’s mixed-reality (live and not), not virtual reality.
  • We already have augmented reality. In football, the first down yellow line is layered on top of the feed, not actually painted :-P
  • Check out the RJDJ iPhone app: Music beats react to your environment
  • @k asks, why if AR has been around for a while are we paying attention to it now? Camera phones more prevalent, better connectivity..
  • GPS more prevalent on phones, compasses, etc. The tech has caught up making it more useful and ubiquitous
  • LEGO is already using augmented reality in their stores. Check out how hot this is!
  • TOPPS has 3D live trading cards! and AKQA did a demo for a USPS virtual box simulator
  • But @k is noticing a lack of design patterns across AR tools. They aren’t consistent and aren’t very usable either
  • GPS isn’t totally accurate. iPhone has a disclaimer that says, “The gps on your iPhone can be off as much as 100 meters…”
  • But some aspects of tech aren’t there yet. Image recognition, processing on mobile, RFID proliferation. Challenge to getting it right
  • When trying to use GPS indoors, iPhone displays a figure 8 to help calibrate. “Makes you feel like you’re trying to cure hiccups” @k
  • CScout Japan’s Cosmetic Mirror lets women preview how make-up will look on their face:
  • @k says Nokia is working on optical character recognition for sign translation “That’s Star Wars right there”
  • Another awesome project is BMW’s training for mechanics using AR
  • Smartphones are increasing rapidly. 42% market share as of Dec 2009. This will help extend the usefulness of AR apps
  • Augmented reality contact lenses: Google Goggles, visual search app for Android:
  • @k says we’re hardly in the game. US searches for augmented reality not even in the top 10. South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia at top
  • Augmented reality is more than just useful, creates immense pleasure for ppl using it. Feels like much more than looking at a screen
  • Check out @k’s augmented reality ghost-hunting game for the iPhone
  • @k quotes William Gibson “The future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed” Groans from the audience. But isn’t he right?
  • Audience asking about the relationship between AR and remote technology (like ubiquitous tech in the home). @k says they’re different
  • Fascinating quote in other session! RT @bnunnally: OH: “Is Twitter the new ‘god’? Something that always tells us we are never alone.”
  • Yummy lunch and stimulating conversation with @k @lorenbaxter and @jonny_sf at the back bar of the Olde Pink House
  • Damn, I’m late to @livlab‘s talk Ceci N’est Pas Une KPI. Live-Twittering starts now!
  • Numbers out of context don’t have meaning, but they answer questions and we need to pay more attention to them as designers
  • @livlab‘s talk title comes from this iconic image which means it’s a representation of a pipe, not an
  • “We don’t need to define user experience in order to measure it.” — @livlab “You can improve what you can’t understand”
  • Numbers help us define where we are, not what we need to do — that’s design research.
  • Context sets the frame for what KPIs make sense. Consider your specific objectives and users. Check for ideas
  • KPIs are a measure of how successful we are on delivering on our goals. Whoever owns the KPIs can direct the internal conversation
  • @morville‘s UX honeycomb helps us move past usability, so our KPIs should reflect that expansiveness as well. Consider all facets
  • Adaptive Path’s Linking Elephants: business problem > desired behavior > behavior metric > value metric > financial value
  • Still @livlab says that’s not a KPI because it isn’t a direct, concrete measure — though it does help frame the problem space
  • KPIs are concrete metrics (quantifiable/measurable), relative (to predefined goals), understood in context and about behaviors
  • I love numbers and I love that @livlab talked about numbers and I love @livlab!
  • @livlab is likely to be the most significant thoughtleader in the next wave of the field of UX. Her approach to her work is inspiring
  • Can’t wait to go home & dig into Lends itself so well to cross-section of UX/business consultant I’m becoming
  • @livlab is launching into her UX Health Check and I’m realizing this should be its own talk. People are hungry for this analysis!
  • I meant workshop! @livlab already has this as a talk. I want guidance on how to do this for one of my clients
  • Paola Antonelli says that she is more comfortable with objects than she is with people. They talk to her about their properties
  • Check out Seemingly insignificant objects from thrift stores & the like paired w/ writers enhance them
  • “This is the Tamagotchi. I hate the Tamagotchi.” — Paola Antonelli Why? Because 2 months after her brother’s died, he died. Woah.
  • Objects can take on personalities as we integrate them into our lives. My Roomba has one.
  • Have you seen Laser Tagging by the Graffiti Research Lab? Using lasers to write on the sides of buildings
  • Wow, such great photos coming across the screen from Paola Antonelli, but I can’t possibly capture them all.
  • Paola Antonelli is the senior curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at the MoMA in NYC.
  • All of this is where interaction design becomes art. A really fuzzy line, something interesting for us to explore, understand purpose
  • Networks/systems make the devices themselves irrelevant. You can replace your iPhone without caring much. It’s the data that matters
  • Paola talking about information designers in a way I havent heard the term used before. I think of info designers as IAs, not artists
  • Paola is talking about putting together an exhibition on the @ sign and its evolution in use
  • I really liked what Paola had to say. It wasn’t revolutionary, but it was a new frame of the subject, succinct, and well illustrated!
  • Great Q from the audience: how do you gather this information? She says she uses everyone she has. Emails everyone, travels, etc
  • @chrisfahey is blowin’ up! Paola talking about his talk. So bummed I missed it today, man. You must reprise at home…please? :)
  • How late does the shuttle run TO the Gulfstream Center tonight? We’ve got a group of 17 at the Olde Pink House ready to head over
  • @andrewmaier @petermarch @likehow22 @ixdiego @bnunnally @mkammerer @fritzism @rayraydel @kevinfarner @ambroselittle @dlichaw @erova
  • @alexislloyd @dantemurphy @elimalone @jonesabi @hilaryue That’s who we had dinner with!


Day 3

  • Day 3 is starting now with @cchastain‘s Thinking Like a Storyteller. Go Cindy!
  • @cchastain showed a series of recent tweets discussing the importance of storytelling in interaction design. Not everyone agrees
  • User stories, personas, scenarios, storyboards, comics, brand stories, product stories. They’re a communication tool and a framework
  • Most importantly, there are *self-narratives* — the stories users tell themselves as their using a product. How do we optimize it?
  • What can we learn from the *discipline* of storytelling that will help us design for more meaningful & engaging product experiences?
  • Slow disclosure = a narrative that engages us both cognitively and emotionally, that ultimately leads to a surprise
  • If we had better understanding of how stories are crafted, we’d have better understanding of how to craft deeper kinds of engagement
  • All stories are, “in their general conception, modes of imitation.” — Aristotle. They’re all representation
  • What makes stories different are their: objects, medium, manner. Two manners of storytelling: narrative/telling & dramatic/showing
  • Aristotle 8 qualitative elements of drama: plot (events), character (agents), thought (ideas/theme), diction (lang.), song (pattern)
  • In interactive products, the user is also an agent or character who can effect the outcome of the narrative — @cchastain
  • Every decision a user makes in a system, the system has a response. Those back and forth actions continue through the interaction
  • We need to be aware of the narrative flow we’re creating in an interactive product, in order to attend to it and enhance it
  • Plot: to understand a film’s story is to grasp what happens & where, when & why it happens. Are we being clear about those elements?
  • We need to do a better job gently and purposefully ending our stories in interactive products. Things end much too abruptly now
  • The essence of @cchastain‘s msg is to be more thoughtful about the stories we want people to tell themselves as they use our products
  • I’m at @erova‘s UX Show & Tell. A series of ixds are going to shand up and show us their work. I love this! @semanticwill up first
  • @semanticwill is clearly illustrating how prototypes can be more useful than wireframes: conditional components
  • @emenel showing a mental model he created. It’s not the work behind these that scares me, it’s the production work. Share a template?
  • Great tip from @emenel: if you make an HTML prototype and then save it as PDF, it’s a vector file that can be zoomed into w/ no loss
  • Check it out! RT @chrisfahey: My “Human Interface” presentation is up on Slideshare, refreshed and up-to-date:
  • @gretared‘s talk is amazing. I’m regretting not live-Twittering it now. Really inspiring work. I’ve gotta find a way to do this stuff
  • People care a lot about the output, but not at all about the product — @gretared
  • Approach your designs from an impressionistic perspective! @gretared
  • Being too process driven gets you to a predictable place. Break out of your own flow in order to create the real revolution
  • Come get a last-minute brew with @eduardoortiz and me at Moon River
  • Back at home after an incredible four days in Savannah at #ixd10. I miss everyone already. Met so many new people and still had more to meet
  • If at any point I said I’d send you something, wanted to talk to you about something, or just said “remind me,” please remind me :)


Endless congratulations go to the co-organizers Bill DeRouchey and Jennifer Bove, Samantha Soma, Will Evans, Todd Zaki Warfel, Dave Malouf, Jonathan “Yoni” Knoll, and the endless other volunteers who made this wonderful conference happen. Thank you for your tireless efforts and desire to create a special experience for us.

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  1. says

    I agree, this was one of the best conferences around. And the community is a big part of that – very open, intelligent, and friendly. Thanks for the summary and insights. See you in Boulder!

  2. says

    I have never been a great graphic designer nevertheless I can see the difference between a site optimized for a graphic designer and other optimized for the engineer, congrats, great site and great comment

  3. says

    Thanks, Whitney. Glad you enjoyed the conference. It was a pleasure listening to all the conversations and hearing people talk about how much the enjoyed the experience. It was also great so see people using some of the tools we designed to make the conference experience better, like the badge and wayfinding tools.

    I'll be writing a series on my blog on the experience behind designing the experience of interaction10.

  4. says

    I agree Whitney. I wonder how much of Twitter and Crowdvine played into the experience. I feel like we created a tight community before we even attended the conference. Can't wait to read Todd's blog.


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