Category Archives: Presentations

UX Cambridge: A good debut with Sigma UK

I’ve just returned from the UX Cambridge conference, having had a wonderful time. I attended interesting, high-quality presentations and gave two myself that were very well received. I met fascinating people and had exciting, energizing conversations. All in all, a great experience.

My major presentation was a one-hour tutorial on designing for older adults. Titled “Older adults: Are we really designing for our future selves?“, the tutorial discussed the common slogan “designing for our future selves” and teased apart the two types of issues that people face as they age — challenges due to changes in our bodies, and challenges due to unfamiliarity with newer technology — and discussed the implications that those two types of challenges present for the design process. I used examples from my own experience of aging (I’m just shy of 64 now) to illustrate and personalize the issues. For example, I didn’t need reading glasses until ten years later than most people do, and I’m still using a low-power magnification; but I’m probably a little early with the challenge of dexterity and stability of my hands, as I have both mild osteoarthritis and essential tremor. The tutorial elicited a lot of great questions, and the exercises saw lively discussion among the participants. People said (and tweeted) a lot of nice things about it, and I had some great conversations afterwards. The slides are on the Sigma Slideshare.

The other presentation was one of the “lightning talks” that these conferences run at the end of the second day. At one of the talks the first day, I had asked a question and raised some objections based on the answer, so the organizers asked me to do a lightning talk. Rather than speak about that objection (which would have taken me longer to prepare), I spoke against the oft-stated idea that a product “should be usable with no training”. Here are the slides from my lightning talk. The Sigma team are planning a blog post about it, so stay tuned. This talk elicited some great questions as well.

This was my first foray into representing Sigma at professional events, and I’d say it went rather well.

It was also my first visit to Cambridge, and I think I’ll enjoy living there.

CHI 2016 poster for my late-breaking work

In my last post I wrote that I had submitted a thing to the Late-Breaking Work venue of the CHI 2016 conference. For some reason I neglected to add a post saying that my submission was accepted. Odd that I would forget something like that.

Transcendhance poster for CHI 2016 (small version)Anyhow, it was accepted. LBWs are presented as posters, and I’ve just finished preparing mine. You can find the “paper” on the “Papers” page of this blog and you can see a larger version of the poster (one where the text is actually legible) by clicking on the smaller version on this page. (I put “paper” in quotation marks because it’s not considered a paper in the CHI sense of a full research paper that gives quasi-maximum kudos and counts toward academic tenure.)

I’m on the schedule for the Wednesday and Thurssday, so if you’re at CHI I hope you’ll stop by and talk to me during the conference reception or one of the relevant coffee breaks. See you there!

Guerrilla IA – a workshop at UCD-UK 2015

I’ve just learned that Adam Babajee-Pycroft and I will be giving a workshop at the User-Centred Design UK 2015 conference (London, 24-25 October). Called “Guerrilla IA: Drafting an Information Structure When You Can’t Do a Card Sort”, the workshop builds on a talk I gave at World Information Archicture Day 2014, in Bristol. (Here’s my blog post about that talk.) While analyzing comments for a paper on YouTube meditation videos, I realized that the technique I was using (“inductive content analysis”) was building me an information architecture, and that it was a technique that could be useful to IA practice. So I presented this idea to a group of information architects (duh! :-) and Adam approached me afterwards to ask a few questions. He told me he was about to begin a project that would be a good candidate for trying it out, and I was excited to learn that my goal of bringing research into practice might bear fruit so quickly (if goals can be said to bear fruit). Well, the technique turned out to work very well on his project, and the two of us have teamed up to create a workshop/tutorial to introduce and teach people how to use it. We will be giving this workshop for the first time at UCD-UK, so come join us! And stay tuned for further developments. :-)

Four seminars in a month

Three in three days, actually, then one about three weeks later.

Early last month I traveled to Scotland to give seminars on my PhD research to three groups: the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at Dundee University and both the Design Informatics and Social Informatics groups in the School of Informatics at Edinburgh University. The seminars were very similar but slightly different, and I received some good and useful questions and comments from all three groups. Then last week I gave what was basically the Design Informatics talk to the TechWeb group in the Informatics Department at the University of Bologna (Italy), where I got some rather different but also valuable questions and comments. Fortunately, UniBo didn’t ask me to translate my slides, although I did most of my speaking in Italian.

I had gone to Italy mainly for World Information Architecture Day 2015, to give a talk and co-chair a workshop, but that will be a separate blog post because (a) I still have a lot of work to do to get it ready (and a lot of PhD work too, having been gone from that for most of a week), and (b) my WIAD talk and workshop were about a completely different topic (not my PhD research). Since I was in Bologna anyway, I took advantage of the occasion to offer my seminar to UniBo.

Thoughts on NordiCHI 2014

I may be jumping the gun slightly, posting this tonight when there’s one more day of NordiCHI to go, but my talk was first thing this morning and a lot has happened since then.

I got up at 4:45 to rehearse a couple of more times for a 9am talk. I made a few mistakes in the talk itself, but nothing earth shattering — and I finished on time. Only one person asked me a question during the session itself, and I was kind of disappointed in that (I figured it indicated relatively little interest), but during the rest of the day at least a dozen people came up to me to say how much they enjoyed it, and most of them asked questions or wanted to talk further. Some of the questions were about imaginary abstracts (which are peripheral to the focus of my research, but useful nonetheless) and some were about techno-spirituality (which is the focus of my research :-). Two people urged Mark* and me to participate in future conferences, one about design for quality of life (in 2015) and the other a science fiction track in a 2016 conference. I said I’d love to (of course :-) and would pass the word along to Mark. (Which I promptly did. And of course he was delighted to hear that. :-) I was also invited to give talks to two groups at Edinburgh University in the new year, and of course I said yes. :-)

Lots of interest, lots of interest. Conferences really do wonders for my mood. I skipped the second session this morning to read the papers that were going to be presented in the session I was chairing during the third session, and while I was sitting there I was approached by a guy with a video camera, who said he was asking people to express their reactions to NordiCHI in one word. Mine came to me right away — “energizing” — and he filmed me saying that. “Energizing!” I suspect they’re going to use the clips in the closing plenary event, which I think is pretty cool.

There’s so much going on in the European academic community. I would dearly love to find a way to remain part of it. Stay tuned.

P.S. I’ll put the slides on SlideShare before long. But before I can do that, we have to indicate the sources of the images we’ve used.


*For new readers of this blog, “Mark” is Mark Blythe, my primary PhD supervisor and coauthor of the three published papers to which I’ve contributed. I’m first author on two of them; Mark is first author on the one I presented this morning.

Keynoting at UCD 2013

This past weekend I went to London for the UCD2013 conference. I gave the Saturday morning keynote (to about 75 people, I think) on usability in government systems. This was a fairly visible talk — more so than last month’s one to City University Human Computer Interaction Design, and I spent a lot (a LOT) of time preparing the slides, wanting to get the visuals right (not too many words) and the content organized appropriately for this audience. I had three main goals:

  • Show the number and diversity of stakeholders in government systems — the direct users and other people affected by them (and implicitly by their usability)
  • Convey an idea of the number and variety of government systems other than public websites
  • Explain the challenges and the rewards for UX professionals in doing government work

Ultimately, I hoped to raise awareness of and interest in this area of UX work.

I put more time into this presentation than any I had ever given before. A large part of that was due to finding and documenting photos of UK government users and systems that were Crown Copyright and available under the Open Government Licence*. Another large component was getting the attributions right, because they had to be in the notes before I uploaded the slides to SlideShare.

It went well, I think; what amazed me was that even though I was still tweaking that morning and hadn’t had a chance to run through it aloud, it turned out to be exactly the right length. It was also well received: one person told me that my talk was the reason he had attended the conference (wow!) and he and one other said it had prompted them to order the book.

I enjoyed myself, met some very interesting people, and learned a few things.

And here is my presentation on SlideShare.

On a side note: I also found what may be a solution to my work situation — an “umbrella company” that becomes your employer. You arrange the work assignments and this company bills your clients, pays you your share, and handles your income taxes and national insurance payments. (National Insurance is like Social Security and health insurance rolled into one.) One of the guys I met said he uses consultants from this company in his business and it works well. I contacted the company and they said they have a lot of people who are here on student visas. I feel optimistic.


*Note to UK government officials: I think I have met the OGL requirements for using the photos in my presentation. If I have erred in any way, please let me know and I will make whatever changes may be necessary.