Confirmed Speakers & Topics

We are excited to provide our list of confirmed speakers and topics for the IDEA Conference. Each speaker brings a unique perspective, experience, and ingenuity to IDEA that we wanted to showcase as part of our dynamic presentation-based conference.

Micro-Interactions in a 2.0 World

Visit Site David Armano VP Experience Design, Critical Mass

David Armano We live in a world where the little things really do matter. Each encounter no matter how brief is a micro-interaction that makes a deposit or withdrawal from our rational and emotional subconscious. The sum of these interactions and encounters adds up to how we feel about a particular product, brand, or service. Little things. Feelings. They influence our everyday behaviors more than we realize.

Find out what organizations are doing this and how we'll all need to re-think how brands are built and sustained in an ever-changing 2.0 world.


David has over 14 years of experience in the communications industry, having spent the majority of his time in digital marketing and experience design. An active thought leader in the industry, David authors the popular Logic + Emotion blog currently ranked in the top 25 of the "Power 150," as listed by Advertising Age. David's writing and visual thinking has been cited by respected sources, such as Forrester and Crain's, and has landed him in BusinessWeek on several occasions including their "Best of 2006". David leads an interdisciplinary group of designers, writers and content strategists for the Chicago office of Critical Mass. Aside from his presence on the Web, David is known as an evangelist for customer-centric strategies and acts as an advocate for the creation of meaningful interactions, which influence behavior. In his spare time he contributes articles to various professional publications and spends as much quality time with his family as possible.

Pre-Conference Presenter (Learn More)
David Bishop Human Sciences Director, MAYA

David Bishop
David leads MAYA's Human Sciences group. As an interaction designer, he is particularly interested in the positive effects that come from having the fortitude to resist feature creep and the insistence to focus on features that users truly need. He works directly with our clients and their customers to design products that are not only easier to build and support, but that also empower people to accomplish challenging tasks. David holds a B.S. in applied mathematics and computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. As an antidote to untangling thickets of complexity, David and his family spend their free time sailing.

CmapTools: From Meaningful Learning to a Network of Knowledge Builders

Alberto Cañas Co-founder & Associate Director, IHMC

Alberto  CaƱas Based on the theories of meaningful learning and education, we present software tool that allow users to collaborate in the construction of shared knowledge models based on concept maps, which are used worldwide by users of all disciplines and ages, from elementary school students to NASA scientists. In this talk we'll discuss the tools, and how their used has resulted in a worldwide network of knowledge builders, and will describe the methodology on which our concept map centered learning environment is based.


For many years, Dr. Cañas has been involved in the use of computers in education, with particular interest in understanding the pedagogical aspects of using technology, and leveraging on his Computer Science background to come up with innovative solutions. He is interested not only in the theoretical aspects, but also in the implementation details and scalability of computers in education efforts. He has been a consultant to Presidents of Costa Rica and Panama in the large scale introduction of computers into the public school systems, resulting in the creation of the Omar Dengo Foundation in Costa Rica and the Conéctate al Conocimiento Project in Panama. He directed the Quorum Project while at the Univ. of West Florida, a joint effort with IBM Latin America that led to the creation of a computer network that allowed thousand of students in schools throughout seven countries in the Americas to have their own email address and work on collaborative projects before Internet arrived in those countries. At the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), with the support of NASA and the US DOD, and the Gov. of Panama, he has led the development of CmapTools, a software suite to represent, visualize and share knowledge models that is used by students and professionals in over 150 countries.

Linguistic User Interfaces

Visit Site Chris Crawford Author & Inventor, Storytron

Chris Crawford Wouldn't it be nice if, instead of digging through nested menus buried inside subpanes of dialogs, we could just talk to our computers in plain language? Sure it would, but computer scientists have long since proven that such "natural language processing" can't be done.

However, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis from linguistics suggests a way to fake it: use toy languages to talk about the toy worlds we create inside a computer. Such languages, which I call "Linguistic User Interfaces" or LUIs, are superior to conventional GUIs in applications requiring more than, say, 100 verbs. However, their creation requires a different approach to software design. We have to think in terms of the verbs available to the user, and the interaction between user and computer being an exchange of sentences. The interface system becomes almost boringly simple when we use an inverse parser, but the algorithms behind an inverse parser are horrifyingly complex. Moreover, it is impossible to create a LUI separately from the digital reality it reflects: the language and reality must be built up in a parallel process. Creation of such systems is very difficult, but they offer us the ability to handle much more complex interface problems. I will illustrate this process with Deikto, the LUI system I created for my interactive storytelling technology.


Chris Crawford earned a Master of Science degree in Physics from the University of Missouri in 1975. After teaching physics for several years, he joined Atari as a game designer in 1979. There he created a number of games: Energy Czar, an educational simulation about the energy crisis, Scram, a nuclear power plant simulation, Eastern Front (1941), a wargame, Gossip, a social interaction game, and Excalibur, an Arthurian game.

Following the collapse of Atari in 1984, Crawford took up the Macintosh. He created Balance of Power, a game about diplomacy, Patton Versus Rommel, a wargame, Trust & Betrayal, a social interaction game, Balance of the Planet, an environmental simulation game, and Patton Strikes Back, a wargame. In 1992, Crawford decided to leave game design and concentrate his energies on interactive storytelling, a field that he believed would become important. He created a major technology for interactive storytelling systems, patenting it in 1997. He is now commercializing his technology at his company website,

The Language of Interaction

Visit Site Bill DeRouchey Sr. Interaction Designer, Ziba Design

Bill DeRouchey We are interacting with technology in an exploding number of forms. "Traditional" computers, cell phones, pocket PDAs, game systems, gesture-based input, store kiosks and checkouts, and much more. How do people learn new technology? By subconsciously learning the language of interaction and applying that language when learning something new.

Words, icons, hierarchies, colors, motion, gestures and more all comprise the language of interaction. This session will survey everyday objects out there now to spot patterns and trends in what people are learning from devices and products. Let's train our eyes to see what consumers see, so we can adopt the useful elements, avoid the bad elements, and create a language that makes our products engaging and joyful to our consumers.


Bill has over fifteen years experience as a writer, information architect, product manager and now senior interaction designer with Ziba Design in Portland, Oregon. With Ziba, he frames and details the experience, flow, and interaction on consumer and medical products. Bill also writes about the variety and history of interaction design in everyday experiences on his blog, Push Click Touch, and is a frequent speaker at industry events. He is determined to stretch how people think about interaction design, from beyond the pure digital to any interaction between humans and the artifacts they create. Bill is on the Board of Directors of IxDA, the Interaction Design Association.

Getting Real

Visit Site Jason Fried Co-founder and President, 37signals

Jason Fried Jason Fried is the co-founder and President of 37signals, a privately-held Chicago-based company committed to building the best web-based tools possible with the least number of features necessary. 37signals' products include Basecamp, Highrise, Backpack, Campfire, Ta-da List, and Writeboard. 37signals also developed and open-sourced the Ruby on Rails programming framework. 37signals' products do less than the competition -- intentionally. Jason believes there's real value and beauty in the basics. Elegance, respect for people's desire to simply get stuff done, and honest ease of use are the hallmarks of 37signals products.

Aurora: Envisioning the Future of the Web

Jesse James Garrett Co-Founder & President, Adaptive Path

Jesse James Garrett Jesse James Garrett provides an inside look at the process of creating Aurora, a concept video depicting one possible future user experience for the Web. Learn about the technology trends that will shape the future Web, discover the challenges of designing a future product, and go behind the scenes at the creation of the Aurora concept video.


Jesse James Garrett is co-founder and President of Adaptive Path, a product experience design firm based in San Francisco. Jesse's tools and concepts have been published in more than a dozen languages and his book The Elements of User Experience is considered one of the seminal works on user-centered design. He is internationally recognized as a leading product experience thinker and has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Business Week. In 2006, Jesse received WIRED Magazine's Rave Award for Technology for coining the term Ajax.

Emerging trends | Design thinking | Service innovation

Aradhana Goel Service Design Strategist, IDEO

Aradhana Goel When we look through the lenses of society (how we connect), mobility (how to move) and sustainability (how we consume), we realize that the world has changed dramatically in the last couple of years.

The web of connections and conversations facilitated by the social networking applications like Facebook has changed the meaning of the word "friends". These connections are currencies that you cash everyday for information. Our increased mobility (thanks to internet and telephony) has transformed us into nomads who live parasitically off of any context. The resulting desire for flexibility is demonstrated by successful services such as Zipcar and TiVo. We have reached a point where resource constraints will force people to adopt a lifestyle of conscious consumption. At the same time we are overwhelmed by the overabundance of resources available to us in the digital world.

How do we innovate in this background? Can we leverage some of these themes to create responsive products and services? My talk will focus on connections between these emerging trends, design thinking and service innovation.


Aradhana Goel has 8+ years of experience, ranging from service innovation to user experience design to architecture and urban design. As a Service Design Strategist at IDEO, she brings a systemic approach for designing user experiences across multiple touchpoints over a period of time. She is an analytical thinker and her strength lies in managing issues of scale and complexity that arise when designing a service ecology. At IDEO, Aradhana has worked with medical insurance, automobile, telecommunication and financial service industries. Most of her work involves helping companies differentiate themselves in the marketplace through a 2-5 year out strategic direction and design of innovative service and product offerings .

Prior to IDEO, Aradhana worked as a Senior Information Designer at MAYA, a design consultancy cum research lab in Pittsburgh. At MAYA, she worked with established companies and institutions like the Carnegie Library, US Postal Service and Eaton Corporation, to transform them from a traditional operation-centric approach to a customer-centric environment.

Aradhana holds a MS degree in Design Technology from MIT, Cambridge, and a Masters Degree in Urban Design from School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi. Her first attempt at cross-pollinating architecture/urban design with information/digital design was evidenced in her MIT thesis 'Urban Pilot' (2001), where she explored the power of social networks to design a living city guide for mobile users.

Pre-Conference Presenter (Learn More)
Paul Gould Designer, MAYA

Paul Gould Paul is a member of MAYA's Design group. Whether through ethnographic research, interaction design, copywriting, information architecture, or visual design, for Paul it's all about telling the right stories - the inspiring ones that lay out a vision for the future and the structured framework for getting there. His work at MAYA helps our clients improve what they do by understanding and anticipating the needs of their customers. He graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with a B.A. in Religion. Paul coaches two elementary school Odyssey of the Mind teams and hauls out his accordion and fiddle at occasional after-hours shindigs.

Books and Browsers

Visit Site Dave Gray Founder & Chairman, XPLANE

Dave Gray The book as a form factor has been around for about 2,000 years, since Julius Caesar first decided to fold up a scroll, accordion-style, and mark the pages for later reference. In 1455, Aldus Manutius was the first to publish the portable paperback, and it has remained relatively unchanged since.

In an interactive format, we'll discuss and explore: Why has the book survived so long? What makes the the book continue to be relevant and useful? Books are inherently "browsable." What lessons from the book can be applied to the web browser and other digital technologies? How might digital technologies alter or enhance the way that we interact with books as physical objects? What do the book and browser interfaces have in common? What is the future of the book? Of the browser?


Dave Gray is the Founder and Chairman of XPLANE, the visual thinking company. Founded in 1993, XPLANE has grown to be the world's leading consulting and design firm focused on information-driven communications. Dave's time is spent researching and writing on visual business, as well as speaking, coaching and delivering workshops to educators, corporate clients and the public.

He is also a founding member of VizThink, an international community of Visual Thinkers.

You are (Mostly) Here: Digital Space and the Context Problem

Visit Site Andrew Hinton Lead Information Architect, Vanguard

Andrew Hinton Context. It's everywhere. No, really, you can't move without bumping into the stuff. But it used to be that we at least had a grasp of what context we were in at any given time. We were either here, or there. But technology has radically changed what it means to be "here" or "there," and has brought some challenging design problems along with it. What does architecture even mean, when the walls are made of vapor? How do we map places that don't behave like places anymore? And if you don't know whether you're here or there, then how do you know which version of yourself to be?


Since 1990, Andrew Hinton has worked as a designer, instructor, writer and consultant of various stripes in the healthcare, financial, consumer and manufacturing industries. Clients have been small and large, including Fortune 500s such as American Express, Shaw, Wachovia and Kimberly-Clark. Andrew is now a Lead Information Architect in mutual-fund giant Vanguard's User Experience Group.

From his pre-Web education, Andrew holds a BA in Philosophy, an MA in Literature and an MFA in Writing. He's a regular speaker at conferences like the IA Summit, and sometimes writes for publications like Boxes & Arrows. His current obsessions include Communities of Practice, social design factors, what games teach us about design, and the meaning of context in digital spaces.

A co-founder of the IA Institute, he serves on its Board of Advisors. He also keeps a home on the web at

Digital Context Clues

Visit Site Jason Kunesh Independent Design Professional

Jason Kunesh Experience design is evolving in both discipline and practice as more people communicate and engage with media. In the past 18 months we've engaged with clients in a variety of contexts and nimbly adjusted our process to help them achieve their goals. As experienced practitioners but new entrants in the experience design market, we have learned volumes about the business as well as its relationship to our process.

This presentation will explore the contexts, teams, methods and tools used to generate prototypes and interfaces in our recent work, and what clues to issues with our own process and approach we drew from each project. We have been hired to design software by three person startups and bluechip behemoths like Lockheed Martin and Microsoft. This ranged from websites to desktop applications intended for use by a variety of audiences from aerospace engineers to children ages four to ten. We'll examine working with patterns, diagramming and prototyping tools, code frameworks like Rails and Drupal and usability testing 8 year olds. We'll talk about agility, working remote, and gardening tools. We'll look at the lessons learned and where we draw the boundaries between a firm's design principles and the tenets of a particular.


Jason Kunesh has designed user interfaces for desktop applications, websites, kiosks, and mobile devices for more than 15 years. He has consulted with startups, non-profit institutions, and Fortune 500 companies including Orbitz, LeapFrog, McDonald's, the Chicago Field Museum,, United Airlines, Microsoft, Giant Bike and Jabber.

Jason taught web design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has a Master's Degree in Human Computer Interaction from DePaul University and a Bachelor's Degree in English from the University of Wisconsin. He is a member of the Information Architecture Institute, the Association for Computing Machinery and the Usability Professionals Association.

Information in Space

Visit Site Elliott Malkin Artist & Information Architect

Elliott Malkin Elliott Malkin will talk about his new media projects installed in public space. He will begin with a discussion of the eruv, a symbolic boundary erected around Jewish neighborhoods as part of the observation of the Sabbath. His work in this area includes using semacode to rebuild an historic eruv that once existed in Lower Manhattan, as well as a more powerful, futuristic eruv built with lasers and surveillance cameras that he installed on the streets and surfaces of buildings in New York City. He will also discuss his research into the life of his great-grandfather, which led to his concept for Cemetery 2.0, an electronic device that connects gravestones to online genealogical databases. Lastly, Elliott will discuss his most recent work, Graffiti for Butterflies, a technique for using ultraviolet light and street art to direct Monarch butterflies to food sources in urban areas.


Elliott Malkin is an artist and information architect whose work explores the intersection of memory, information, and physical space. His work has focused on the eruv, a symbolic boundary erected around Jewish neighborhoods as part of the observation of the Sabbath. This includes eRuv, a virtual reconstruction of an eruv that once existed in lower Manhattan, and Modern Orthodox, a next-generation eruv constructed with lasers and surveillance cameras. Many of Elliott's other projects concern the use of new media as a proxy for memory. His short film Family Movie is a reconstruction of scenes from his family's collection of home movies from the 1970's. He is also the creator of Cemetery 2.0, a device that connects gravestones to the genealogical database of the Mormon Church. His most recent work is Graffiti for Butterflies, a project designed to facilitate interspecies communication between humans and monarch butterflies in urban areas. Elliott is originally from Chicago and currently lives in New York City, where he works as an Information Architect for The New York Times. His work has been featured at Eyebeam, the International Documentary Festival, and The Contemporary Artists' Center.

Mixing Messages

Edwina von Gal Author & Landscape Designer

Edwina von Gal (Full title: Mixing Messages: Combining Science, Design, Nature and Community to Create Programs of Education, Habitat Protection and Sustainable Land Management in Panama and the Neo-Tropics)

The design of a park around a museum of biodiversity in Panama (designed by Frank Gehry) has inspired a number of collaborations and connections throughout Panama and, now the United States. The Park will be a living extension of the museum's exhibits and the first step in an educational trail that will encourage visitors to explore Panama's rich natural resources. The Museum project has also inspired the designer, Edwina von Gal, to become involved in other educational and applied projects in Panama, working with scientists, students (U.S. and Panamanian) and local populations to explore sustainable alternatives in agriculture, architecture, and tourism.


Since establishing her landscape design firm in 1984, New Yorker Edwina von Gal has been responsible for numerous public and residential projects, within and outside the United States. She has been the recipient of several awards for her garden and landscape designs, such as the AIA and ASLA Merit Awards and the Garden Writer Association of America 1998 Quill & Trowel Award. Her work has been published in the most prestigious magazines devoted to architecture and landscaping design such as Architectural Digest, Garden Design, House Beautiful, House and Garden, Martha Stewart Living, NY Times Magazine, Vogue, NY Style and Gardens Illustrated, among others. She is the author of Fresh Cuts, with photos by John M. Hall- Artisan Press-April 1997. Edwina von Gal was selected by architect Frank Gehry to design the botanical park for the Museum of Biodiversity in Panama City, with educational and ecological programming in collaboration with exhibit designer Bruce Mau for integration of landscape and Museum. In addition, she is currently working with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama for sustainable master planning of their research facilities around the country. Edwina is the president of the Azuero Earth Project dedicated to exploring sustainable methods of building and managing land in the humid tropics.