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Apr 16, 2008: I'm grateful

Anyone who's followed my blog over the past seven (!) years knows that I'm always promoting the IA Summit. It was my baby at its inception, but it's gotten better every year. As a strapping nine year-old, it's clearly enjoyed some great parenting along the way. Many thanks to Richard Dalton, Dick Hill, and the rest of the committee for another outstanding event.

But this year something extra special happened. Amid the sessions, networking, socializing and such, I encountered some completely unexpected generosity.

Kevin Cheng and I have been discussing his writing a Rosenfeld Media book for some time. His proposal is about done, and I'm dying to publish the book. But Kevin's nothing if not careful and diligent; on the first day of the Summit, he told me he wanted to get a little more input on a few points before finalizing his proposal. I suggested we convene a few interested people— maybe five?—and see what they thought.

A day later, after some tweeting and some gentle arm-twisting, nearly twenty people were seated around a few tables, ready to talk comics and user experience design. And that we did; not for the half hour I'd hoped for, but for over two hours. Incredible. It's not like they had nothing else to do. I still can't quite believe it.

Everyone contributed. It was a polite discussion, but it was punctuated by passionate interjections and plenty of joking. Dan Willis went into auto-facilitation mode, really helping things along.

Why do we need companies and hierarchies? With another hour or two, this ad hoc collective could probably have figured out what to do about global warming.

I want to acknowledge those who donated their time and ideas; I'm in awe and thank you deeply:

  • Stephen Anderson
  • Mario Bourque
  • Lorelei Brown
  • Whitney Hess
  • Kaleem Khan
  • Livia Labate
  • Jess McMullin
  • Matthew Milan
  • Danny Muller
  • Greg Nudelman
  • Adam Polanski
  • Frank Ramirez
  • Dave Sturtz
  • Russ Unger
  • Dan Willis
  • Stuart Woods
I hope I'm not forgetting anyone; please let me know if I did! Thanks again (sniff); you guys rock.

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Comment: dave malouf (Apr 16, 2008)

Hi Lou, You missed Whitney Hess. I'm pretty sure she was there.

But the real reason I wanted to comment was to say that at least 1 person was participating on the back channel through Twitter. I was feeding comments through the twitter space that I'm pretty sure was coming through the other end. I don't know if it got through or not, and I don't know if I was the only 1. But it was interesting to attempt.

- dave

Comment: Lou Rosenfeld (Apr 16, 2008)

Heh. Dave, thanks! I didn't know you were virtually there.

Er, but I didn't miss Whitney; she's listed. :-)

Comment: Lorelei Brown (Apr 17, 2008)

Aw geez Lou, *you* rock. I think I can speak for all of us in saying that it was our pleasure to contribute to the leading thought in IA.

Comment: Margaret Ruwoldt (Apr 18, 2008)

Sounds like an example of instant karma, Lou. You've been giving your ideas and passion away to the IA community for years -- this group obviously thought it was payback time :-)

Comment: Russell Unger (Apr 18, 2008)

Thanks, Lou!

It was my pleasure to be a part of this. And it was truly fantastic that you care so much to put it together!

Comment: Russell Unger (Apr 18, 2008)

Thanks, Lou!

It was my pleasure to be a part of this. And it was truly fantastic that you care so much to put it together!

Maybe we can all do it again in Y! Live next time! :-)

Comment: Livia Labate (Apr 18, 2008)

I second Margaret. The Polar Bear changed my life and brought legitimacy to what I do way back in the day when I was in the tropics. Two hours of my time don't even compare! Besides, it was really fun. :)

I'm really looking forward to Kevin's book! Clearly you guys are super dedicated to making it a success and I'm confident you'll accomplish just that. If further discussions like that happen, feel free to ping me again.

Comment: Whitney Hess (Apr 19, 2008)

In all honesty, I never cared much about comics. I was deciding which session to go to and asked for Kevin's advice when he told me he was getting a few people together to discuss his book proposal. I figured what the heck. I'd just met Kevin the night before, but have followed him online for many years.

I was really taken aback by the level of conversation around the table -- the thoughtfulness and respect with which people contributed their ideas, and the graciousness and humility with which you and Kevin accepted them.

Not only did I leave the two-hour discussion desperate to buy the book and to figure out how to use comics in my work, but was really left wondering how we could bottle the type of collaboration that took place. People always say "too many cooks in the kitchen" as if it's merely the number of people that leads to reduced productivity. But is it actually something else? There were about 20 people there, and together those 20 minds came up with some pretty brilliant ideas.

What do you believe enabled it?

Comment: Lou (Apr 19, 2008)

Whitney, I wish I knew; I'd like to bottle it too. I like to think that UX people are, necessarily, good collaborators. It also may have had something to do with Summit attendees needing a break from presentations in large rooms and intense one-on-one socializing in between sessions. Perhaps this sort of discussion offered a good middle ground?

Comment: Dan Willis (Apr 20, 2008)

Lou
I want to second the comments of Lorelei, Liv, Ms. Ruwoldt and the Four Tops: You just reach out and we'll be there. You've done a lot for all of us and it feels good to give back, even in tiny little ways like the conversation in Miami.
(Oh, and I'm not completely sure what "auto-facilitation mode" is, but I'm choosing to interpret it as a positive thing ...)
Really looking forward to the book; I'm sure Kevin's going to nail it.

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