Category Archives: travel

Get ready for the 2008 Information Architecture Summit

On another IA note (can you tell I’m working through my inbox?) it’s time again to start thinking about the 2008 Information Architecture Summit in Miami, Florida on April 10-14 2008.

The Information Architecture Summit is the premier gathering place for those interested in information architecture. The 2007 IA Summit attracted over 570 attendees, including beginners, experienced IAs, and people from a range of related fields.

The 2008 theme of “Experiencing Information” shifts the focus back to users. A user experience exists only to allow people to “do things” (in the broadest sense … buying books, sharing photos with friends, looking something up on wikipedia, etc).

Call for Proposals

The summit is a great opportunity to share your experience and thoughts on a topic you feel passionate about – and for the first time – presenters will receive complimentary registration! (to keep costs manageable one complimentary registration will be given to each regular session slot and panel moderator/organizer).

Proposals for the following are due October 31, 2007:

  • Presentations
  • Panels
  • Posters
  • Management Track
  • Pre-conference workshops

Submissions of peer-reviewed Research Papers are due November 30, 2007.

(Note that I’m a member of the IAI Advisory Board and will be a reviewer for Proposal and Research Papers. If you have any questions about the proposal process, the IA Summit or the Information Architecture Institute just ask.)

Listening Post exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Art

Yesterday I saw an interesting exhibit called Listening Post at the San Jose Museum of Art about understanding, or maybe just observing, internet-based communications.

Here’s the blurb from the project’s Web page:

“What would 100,000 people chatting on the Internet sound and look like?”… Listening Post analyzes all the text—typed just moments ago—by tens of thousands of people in Internet chat rooms around the world. It presents them as six different “movements,” combining musical tones, sound effects, synthesized voice, and scrolling text. For example, in the first movement, Listening Post monitors and displays a randomly typed text beginning with “I am.” It then searches the Internet for related phrases, creating a simultaneously funny, sad, nonsensical, pathetic, yearning, quotidian, and ultimately mesmerizing tonal poem of identity in the Internet age.

For centuries, the soaring buttresses, vaulted ceilings, and luminous stained glass of cathedrals, along with hymns and chants, have transmitted that which is beyond expression. Using algorithms, software, and data mining, Listening Post generates a similar experience around what sometimes seems beyond comprehension.

It’s quite an experience with seven “movements” that range from ideas like Wave Cycle, Topic Cluster and I Am (I Like/I Love) where text from the messages floats, drifts or cycles across the many small LED screens in sync with some Philip Glass-like music.

Listening Post

The exhibit runs Saturday, June 3, 2006 through Sunday, May 20, 2007, so hurry up and take a look while it’s still there.

Keep Austin Weird: A Guide to the Odd Side of Town

By now you’ve heard the saying “Keep Austin Weird”. What you might not have known is who coined the phrase and how it just might actually relate to Austin, Texas.

All those questions (and more) can now be (mostly) answered by the man himself, Red Wassenich, who did in fact come up with the saying as an offhand remark when he called in to a local radio station.

Now Red has a book chock full of Austin and Weirdness: Keep Austin Weird: A Guide to the Odd Side of Town, by Schiffer Publishing.

Keep Austin Weird: A Guide to the Odd Side of Town

Some friends had a signing party for Red’s book and I got to attend. Here’s a picture of Red in action:

Red Wassenrich signing his book

Seattle & Portland this week

I am in Seattle this week for the Seattle Innovation Symposium, where academics and industry are working together to understand and distribute the innovation. I will also be talking with some of the smart people at Microsoft about the OpenChoice project: a platform for Web Content Classification & Filtering that I’m working on with many others at UT.

I have already been in town a day and half. I’ve been enjoying the nice weather (no, that’s not a Seattle rain joke) and the downtown area. Yesterday I hit Dilettante Chocolates and walked down to the Pike Place Market for some fresh crab cocktail and hot french bread (a tasty sandwich indeed) at the waterfront park. Then a trip over to the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project (museum) and ran smack dab into a Star Trek convention (no, that’s not a Seattle geek joke). Then somehow I ended up at REI, which seems inevitable here in town (yes, that is a Seattle treehugger joke).

Later in the week, I’m driving down to Portland and will plan on at least one Lewis & Clark related stop, but am open to any road trip recommendations or must-sees in Portland. (I’ve never been to Oregon and I’m happy to correct that error. Also, that’s one more state I can say I’ve been to.)

Tagging Workshop at WWW 2006, Edinbugh

I’m in the Collaborative Tagging Workshop at WWW 2006, Edinbugh right now sitting in the back with Ryan from Technorati using the wall outlets and sharing power adapters to keep our powerbooks running. So far, we’re not experiencing the optimal conference experience as the wifi is pretty sporadic (I suspect they didn’t count on nearly everyone here wanting network access), the room is standing room only and they even ran out of lunches with at least 100 people to go earlier this afternoon. I’m sure organizing a conference like this is nearly impossible.

Lots of excellent presentations and papers (see the link) with a lot of focus on enterprise or private tagging systems and some working demonstrations of products in progress. It will be amazing to see what this same workshop would be like next year, with lots of these ideas brought out into the wider world.

What I've learned in 36 Hours in Glasgow

  • Make sure you’re not coming to town on the day of the Scottish National Football Cup (which has got to be similar to the SuperBowl or at least a league championship playoff final), not to mention arriving at the train station EXACTLY when a train arrives full of hundreds of already drunk and boisterous Heart of Midlothian Football Club fans all decked out in maroon and white (I had an OU Sooners flashback for a second there) yelling and honking air horns. (I take that back, I can’t be sure that all of them were boisterous.) Lovely. (No wonder I had a hard time finding a hotel.)
  • They only have 7 channels here and the movie Braveheart is on one of them this evening while on another channel is something with Billy Connolly talking about a famous fiddle player.
  • BBC News is much better than anything I’ve seen in a while for international news without sensationalism or egregious bias.
  • People (5) in Italian restaurants (1) eat pizza with a fork and (dull) knife. So let’s generalize for all of Scotland!
  • Be on the lookout for fights. I have seen two fist fights already. One in front of a pub on Saturday night (natch) and one right on a main city street between two motorists who were stopped at a light and had some time for the free exchange of ideas. One guy actually got out of his car and was trying to pull the other guy out all the while both were shouting something indecipherable at each other (were they drunk or just with a thick brogue? both? I kid the Scottish.). Not to worry though, as you’d expect, the fights weren’t very dangerous, if these guys could fight they wouldn’t be part of Great Britain… (Again, I kid the Scottish. Try the veal and tip your waitresses!)
  • Scottish Tourism Centre people are kind and knowledgeable. My agent was originally from St. Petersburg, but still managed to have a Glaswegian accent. Moreover, they (she) used Google more than any other reference material when we were plotting out some potential travel routes. Interestingly, she would type things like “victorian heritage trail images” to look for pictures instead of clicking on the Images tab/link on the Google results page. Also, they must have browser history set to 0 or turned off which made it hard to her to re-find things she must recommend a lot.
  • Hotel “broadband” isn’t. And it’s 17.99 GBP per day.
  • Time shifting means I got up at 5:30am this morning. (Read that again if you like, because that’s the only time you’re going to associate that with me.)
  • Bus drivers have a good sense of humor.
  • Cab drivers are remarkably efficient, intelligent drivers and have spacious, clean cabs. (Just like in London.)
  • I already miss iced tea.

Check out some more pictures.

I'll be in Scotland

in the next few weeks, primarily to attend the 15th International World Wide Web Conference where I’m co-chairing a workshop on Logging Traces of Web Activity: The Mechanics of Data Collection with Melanie Kellar, Kirstie Hawkey and Andy Edmonds. If you won’t be attending, you can check out the excellent program schedule, including links to the submissions that will be presented at the workshop.

Fortunately, before the conference I will be doing some touring throughout Scotland including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. If you have some recommendations, on “must see” experiences, I’m happy to hear about it. I’ve already added a few events to my trip from excellent suggestions including the Isle of Skye and a whisky distillery or two. Feel free to comment on this post or send me an email.

See you in Seattle in September (10-15)

I will be in Seattle soon for some work and fun, approximately September 10th through the 15th. I’ll be visiting with some of the smart people at MSN Search on Monday the 12th, so if you’re at Microsoft and have some loose time that matches up with mine, let’s chat!

Tuesday and Wednesday I will be participating in the Seattle Innovation Symposium, a wonky kind of academic thinkfest tasked with building an agenda for innovation in information technology research.

I have purposefully built some free time into this trip, so if you’re in the Seattle area and we know each other or you just think it might be interesting to get together and talk, I will try and coordinate a group meetup on demand. Just send me an email or post a comment right here.

(Forgive the aliteration in my post title, but at least I’m not an anxious anchor in a powerful post.) And of course, my trip will be guilt-free since I will have just verified my backups.

Finally. Tell me where to go.

I’m going on a week+ of vacation to the Denver area, up to Wyoming and over to South Dakota. I will happily accept suggestions on must-sees, places to avoid, restaurants and of course- wifi hotspots.

I’ll be hopefully doing some flickr posts too.

I know you can’t wait.

Update: Thanks for the recommendations for the trip, I wasn’t checking email frequently enough, but I’ll be sure to check them out *next time*.