11 OctPost-Infocamp Processing

It was a good weekend. I saw a lot of people I know and miss working with. Got to meet in meatspace A, and say hello to some other people I usually only “see” online as well. I met some people that I got some good ideas from and had fun talking with. I went to some interesting sessions. I spent a lot of it looking for lateral ideas that I could use with what I’m doing now, which is a lot more management & business oriented thinking. Fortunately I like interdisciplinary idea cross-pollination.

The keynote by Axel Roesler was excellent. Of his many good points, one of his sidenotes was that he had been a designer, then an engineer, and was now back to a designer. It was at this point that I started thinking about how management is at least partially about designing an experience for the employees that allows them to be as productive as possible, in both directions — I want the folks above and below on the org chart to be happy and productive. How can I facilitate a work experience for them that will set them up for success? With that in mind, I thought about why I’d been hired again and what sorts of things I would be able to find at this conference that would aid & abet me in meeting some of those larger scheme goals.

To that end, the first presentation I went to was Designing Experiences Beyond the Screen (Ariel van Spronsen) — services design. It was during this that I jokingly told one of my former co-workers that for the weekend I should change my title to Employee Productivity Designer. She laughed at me and said, “It sounds like you’re a manager that doesn’t want to say you’re a manager!” Totally. She then said, ‘and you’d have to work with a lot of people to design that experience, facilities to set up desks, IT to set up computers, HR arranging onboarding…” Um, yeah, I’m a manager, what do you think managers do? Heh.

Then it was lunch. Yay lunch. Met up with P who went to WikiLeaks: Information Between Legal Borders (Brian Rowe), which was the other one that looked interesting to me, but not as likely to provide the lateral ‘I Can Use This’ sort of thing. After lunch we both went to Intro to Sharepoint (Quentin, Greg) — it was *way* intro for us, but as we both have staff we’d like to pull over to SharePoint, it seemed like an optimal time to step back and see what other folks were telling noobs about SharePoint. I also got some good ideas of things I can tweak SharePoint to do, helloooo key performance indicators. I’d love to figure out a way to ping off the incident management stuff to SharePoint to track my team specific metrics there, but have yet to figure out a way that won’t just add a zillion additional steps to the workflow. Still, in time…

The third session of the day, we went to Google Book Settlement (Brian Rowe) — it was good. Kind of a coaster session with fairly minimal cross-over immediate ‘can use’ stuff, but interesting from a copyright and intellectual property standpoint. The final session of the day was Discussion/Idea Generation: Next Gen Internet-making taxonomies & social media work (Pam Green). We didn’t actually get around to the social media aspect of the session, but there were a lot of my peeps there, and Pam is awesome. Looking at how to organize a massive intranet effectively is an interesting exercise. There were a lot of assumptions that had been passed on to Pam by people who tend to make the decisions, and there were a lot of assumptions by people in the room who lacked background and context (not the least, how long Pam had been doing work along these lines). But there was some good signal in the noise.

We went down to the info parties — I had a tasty Manhattan, although the bartender asked me a question a couple times and I just couldn’t hear her, or rather I could hear her, but not distinguish quite what she was saying, to her annoyance. It got made sweet, which is fine. It was tasty. We stood around and talked about random things, then headed to a place down the street with the claim that they had better beers (plus you didn’t have to order food at the bar). That was fun. Would like to do that more often with those folks. I really miss working with them, though I think ultimately I’m in a much, much better place, that’s a much better fit for me.

This morning the presentation was a presentation on search engines, search & the like by Vanessa Fox. It was also a great presentation. She in relation to tracking real time search trends based on tv advertising, she asked how many of us watched the Super Bowl last February. In an audience of around 300, only four people raised their hands. This reminds me of the PM that started out using sports metaphors in a meeting I was in where there were a couple of librarians, a nice content lady, and an Israeli database guy. We all gave him blank stares. He shifted to military metaphors and the database guy got what he was saying and started laughing… I can’t remember if he ever came around to a metaphor that the rest of us would actually get. But Earnest Tom was so earnest that we didn’t really mind. We kinda got it, the metaphors were just really not well thought out for the audience… ANYWAY (it’s my blog, I can go on a tangent if I want to). Apparently 50% of people are on both the computer and tv at the same time (I don’t know where the statistic comes from or the full context, I’m just sayin’ that’s what I heard). I leaned over to P & whispered, “That’s because we only have one computer in the same room as the tv right now…” But search trends and information seeking behaviors are an interesting thing to take a look at, I find my interest drops fairly quickly when the only interest in them becomes focused down to “how do we use this to push traffic to sites”, but that’s not what this presentation was about.

The first, and only session I attended today, was Using Humor to Convey Information (Jess Hagy & friends). It was put on by Jess of Indexed, a site I’ve been following for about three years now. One of the things I need to do is present information about what my team is doing. While at the moment, I need to present my information seriously and get taken seriously, I think that using humor and the unexpected in other areas helps engage people and bring stuff home that would be otherwise much less accessible. For instance, this example of what’s changing in a MARC record is completely amusing to me & made much more of an impression than it would have had the example been, for example Lawrence Whelk.

Then to lunch, where we met a nice library student from PDX, and a SharePoint widget designer & a SharePoint dev, all of whom we had good discussions with. Then when we were done eating, we wandered over to KW and talked to him and I got from him what I was hoping to hear someone at the conference talk about — namely, storytelling and creating compelling narratives. Got some book recommendations, or rather, re-recommendations because he’s talked about them before (and that’s why I asked him, I knew he’d have some good resources). His opinion was also ‘maybe not so much employee productivity designer, but productivity engineer.’ Which lead to an entertaining, brief discussion on design v. engineering. “Don’t call me an engineer! I’m an artist!”

And with that, we went home a little early. It was good, but we needed an infonap & at least a *little* bit of a “weekend”. Also a chance to recover from being around that many people. Introvert much?

Kind of general stuff, we saw more whale tails & ass cracks than we really needed to. Pull those pants up or wear longer shirts, yo. All in all, it was good. From an lateral usability perspective, I got what I needed. Networking and keeping in touch too.

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