This (long) weekend the inaugural OZ-IA conference and retreat was held in Sydney. This is an important event since it marks the first official gathering of information architecture and user experience professionals in Australia. Eric Scheid has done well to make it all happen (with special help from my wife in her new role as event manager).
Despite a few niggly issues the event went well and I’m sure will grow bigger and better in the coming years. There was a good turnout and quite a few notable people. The topics covered were useful and for the most part interesting, but it seems there is still a fixation with producing documentation and artifacts. Was this because the topics were skewed towards the novice? Or because in general our clients and colleagues have such as narrow vision of “IA” that we can’t escape site maps and wireframes? I would like to see the emphasis move away from mouse-clicks towards an increase in thinking up creative solutions. For example, how we can better integrate UCD or IA into work processes and interaction with other disciplines.
My highlights were Ash and his discussion of user research (I still don’t know what animal I am yet, but I’m working on it), Donna and her talk on categorisation, Alex and his obsession with topic maps (by virtue of his sheer entertainment value) and James’ discussion of IA in the enterprise (yes he is my boss, but it was still a great session). Mark Berstein‘s presentation on False Intentions and the Fallacy of Finding was a great opener and made us all think (no doubt harder than we expected to have to!).
Sadly, I can’t see this event becoming as big or as good as the key US conferences such as the IA Summit and SXSW (OK they like to think they are ‘international’ but they really only cater for the yanks). Sounds a tad bitter? Well yeah, I’d love to go to SXSW but it’s just too expensive!
I guess we’ll need to just keep luring the big names out from the US, such as the Adaptive Path crew or the usuals who attend Web Essentials/Directions (which I didn’t get to this year).
So here’s to next year, I look forward to it.
ps: as much as I love my iBook, people typing notes during presentations is just soooo annoying! It’s working its way up my list of pet hates :)
About the author
Patrick Kennedy is a user experience strategist and design researcher based in Sydney Australia. He leads research activities that improve the user experience of cross-channel products and services; helping both designers and business decision makers in bringing those products and services to fruition. Read more.