The Information Architecture Institute
A conference on designing
complex information spaces of all kinds.
New York City, October 4 and 5, 2007

Archive for continuous partial attention

Audio and some slides

We have audio from every talk, and slides from many of them, free for download. Enjoy!

Day 1

Peter Merholz’ Introduction. Slides (PDF), MP3

Linda Stone. No slides, MP3. Questions and answers MP3.

David Guiney, Designing Across Multiple Media for the National Park Service. Slides to come, MP3
David Guiney, Addressing the Challenges of Designing for the National Park Service. Slides to come, MP3.

Dave Cronin, Art for the public: supporting a visitor-directed museum experience. Slides, MP3.

Jake Barton, Interaction Design in a Physical Space. Slides (PDF), MP3. Jake also showed a few movies during his talk: Building Timelapse movie. Jetblue booth movie. Timescapes sample chapter movie.

Ian White, The Design of Data. Slides (PDF), MP3.

Ali Sant, TRACE: Mapping the Emerging Urban Landscape. Slides to come, Part 1 MP3, Part 2 MP3.

Day 2

Stamen Design, Project Work. Slides with no movies (7.37 MB PPT), Slides with movies (164.78MB ZIP), MP3.
Fernanda Viegas, Democratizing Visualization. Slides (PPT), MP3.
Stamen and Fernanda Question and Answer. MP3.

Dan Hill, The New Media. Slides (PDF), MP3.

Next-Generation Libraries panel:

  • Deborah Jacobs, No slides, MP3
  • Ed Vielmetti, No slides, MP3
  • Paul Gould, Slides (PPT), MP3
  • Question and Answer. MP3

Robert Kalin, O Advantageous Interfaces! Slides (on Rob’s site), MP3.

Bruce Sterling, Closing Keynote. No slides. MP3.

Comments (8)

O Advantageous Interfaces, Etsy’s Robert Kalin

Somehow, some way, during Tuesday’s afternoon break, the conference began a slow right turn into philosophy, contention, and larger topics. And it all began with Etsy’s Robert Kalin.

The talk was one 1/3rd cultural analysis, 1/3rd digital philosophy and 1/3rd about the history of his website and business, On the analysis front, he challenged the assertions of Linda Stone, claiming instead that for the younger generations that have grown up with so many digital demands for their attention, there is no sense of loss: it’s entirely normal for them to manage this many interactions, just as its normal for Gen-Xers to deal with TV, stereos, computers and other simultaneous inputs that their parents could not handle. Ripple in the pond was a common metaphor in his talk.

Robert KalinI wondered about the boundries of this argument: just because a technology can be assimiliated doesn’t mean it’s benefical or good for culture, human psychology, or human survival. There has to be some thinking about the impact these technologies, that we barely understand (as we’ve just made them), have on culture, society and psychology (See Neil Postman’s Amusing ourselves to death).

On digital philosophy: he briefly mentioned Mclluhan, a trickster of a philosopher who’s often (mis)credited with predicting and explaining many of the challenges of the digital age, but quickly moved on to the semiotics of interfaces, and how every successful UI model reveals something important about a particular culture (Urinials were a brief example, with a hat tip to Duchamp).

The history of etsy was told in brief - started as, a site to sell handmade products done for a professor’s wife’s friend. They liked the core ideas, had learned from their mistakes, and launched soon after. Kalin believes that innovation in design can be a way to differentiate and establish brand, despite other’s abilities to copy or mimic those traits. They work remotely (IRC): Kalin in Brooklyn, others in NJ, FL, Philadelphia and elsewhere. Kalin expressed that his own vagabond background (some art school, some music performance, stints at various colleges, some construction work, etc.) deeply impacted his views on design, culture, and more.

One point raised during Q&A was the curious, if not contradictory, relationship between Stone’s comments, etsy’s value proposition of the authenticity of handmade goods, and’s construction as a cutting edge, uber-dynamic, web 2.0 experience. Can a website be an authentic experience if it’s trying to be innovative and buzzword compliant? Does the medium (wink to Mclluhan) impact how authentic you can be?

I left the session with more questions than answers, both about Kalin’s opinions, the signifigance of, as well as whether value systems can work independent of a particular mode of communication.

Intellectually it was the most challenging (and in places frustrating) talk of the conference, that is until Sterling’s closing notes.

-Scott Berkun

Comments (2)

Opening Salvo: Linda Stone’s keynote

Looks like I’m first to post - am I guilty of attention defecit disorder? You decide :)

FIrst up was Linda Stone, offering several resonant points about our continually distracted attention spans. She didn’t use slides, by intent, making the point that audiences, such as those in SCRUM or standing meetings, benefit from slight discomfort, as it forces attention. But i wondered: do slides distract, or help tell stories? I think it all depends on how its used: the difference is in the hands of the speaker).

Highlights for me were all about awareness: She made it impossble not to notice the people in the room on laptops, the baby crying in the rafters, the odd cell phone ringtone, or the library noise in the hall. If nothing else I left her talk more aware of the things asking for my attention, and my freshly empowered ability to, at any time, refuse them if I desired.

But I wondered how to use this awareness as a designer, and a consumer. Can attention really be saved at the design level, if the product in question is a television commercial? Or anything that has the intent to earn, or (gasp) steal, attention? With these questions now in mind, I thought Stone’s keynote was a suitable warmup for the more design focused sessions to come.

-Scott Berkun


OMFG - We got Linda Stone!

This morning I had a delightful phone conversation with Linda Stone. (You can also learn more about her from an older bio.) Linda has an extensive history in multimedia design and development, going back to Apple Computer in the 80s, and including Microsoft in the 90s.

Linda has once again achieved prominence with her latest meme, continuous partial attention. It’s a condition of the contemporary information worker — constantly scanning the periphery for newer, potentially more valuable information; subject to distraction; difficulty with focusing on any one thing for any length of time.

Thanks to the miracle of podcasting, you can listen to her presentation on CPA at the Emerging Technology Conference.

I wanted Linda to address our event, because I think the situation she’s identified presents a challenge for designers of complex information spaces — how do we develop systems, environments, and tools that fit within this context of partial attention? I think it does much to set up the discussions that will happen at IDEA, so she has been given the first slot.

In our discussion this morning, she mentioned that her understanding continues to evolve, and this won’t simply be a rehash of her ETech or Supernova talks.

I am very excited!


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