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What happened in Ohio?

I am collecting links to blog entries, trip reports, press releases, etc. about what happened in Ohio for World Usability Day. Leave a comment here if you find something else so that I can update the list.

Also, if/when you upload your photos to Flickr, be sure to put them in the World Usability Day 2006 gallery and tag them Ohio so all of our photos show up together. We have photographs from the Northwest (me) and Southwest (Kara Lock) corners already.

Ohio World Usability Day

I decided to make a little web site devoted to all of the World Usability Day activities in Ohio. I hope this view will make it easier to see what is going on in our state on November 14th.

If you know of additional events, or a change to the existing events, leave a comment here and I will update the site. Afterwards, let me know about trip reports, photos or any other news from the Ohio events and I will include them there as well.

Finally, we have the details on the World Usability Day dinner for Northwest Ohio: 7:30pm, downtown Bowling Green, at Cucina di Betto. Hope to see you there!

World Usability Day - Ohio (and Michigan)

We have not finalized our plans for the November 14th World Usability Day activity in northwest Ohio (it will be small), but if you are in the area, there are lots of "regional" events you can go to if you are willing to drive 2 hours.

To the north is a full day conference at Michigan State University (serving the whole state of Michigan).

To the east are two events in northeast Ohio: a daytime event at Kent State University and an evening session at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

To the southeast, there is 1 event in Columbus, at Nationwide Insurance. (October 30 update: this event is for Nationwide employees only. I will let you know if there is anything open to the public in Columbus.)

To the south, LexisNexis in Dayton is hosting a conference.

Some parts of Indiana are within a 2-hour drive, but the Indiana World Usability Day 2006 Conference is farther, in Indianapolis.

Also, you can partiicpate in World Usability Day without leaving your home or office, via Webcasts & Podcasts. There are some webcast-only events and several local events are being broadcast so that you can attend online. Note that some of these webcasts might take place on November 13th for us here in the Eastern US time zone.

Later, I will send out news about our local gathering here on my blog and also at NWOACM (the local group sponsoring it).

IBM consults on local economy

News of IBM's Plant location engagement with the Regional Growth Partnership, our local economic development organization, has hit the headlines (upper-left story on page 1 of today's Toledo Blade).

I first learned of this in June in the Toledo Business Journal. Good to hear that it has progressed enough to make the Blade. Report due in October.

Note that I have no IBM inside information about this project - I am just a local resident who is excited that his employer will help his children get decent jobs in the area some day.

MOCHI is back

I will miss the first meeting of the new "season" of MOCHI - Tom Brinck's farewell to Michigan on August 9th. But it is good to see something on the calendar. The MOCHI blog is another good sign, making it easier for me to stay in touch with my user experience colleagues up north.

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UX instructors needed at WCC

Just up US 23 from here, Jason Withrow, Department Chair, Internet Professional Department, Washtenaw Community College, is looking for someone to teach two classes this Fall (August 31 - December 14) in the Internet Professional Program. The classes are:

Jason has Crafted this User Experience Curriculum.

Lectures for both INP 153 and INP 203 will be provided to the instructor, as well as labs and other assignments, so preparation time should be minimal.

Contact Jason if you are interested!

Blue Collar Computing

Leave it to Ohio to apply the term "Blue Collar" to information technology. The Ohio Supercomputer Center has a program called Blue Collar Computing. Some quotes about it:

The complexity of current HPC [High Performance Computing] hardware and software creates a substantial "barrier to entry" for both scientists and engineers. Without proper HPC tools many of our modern research problems range from extremely difficult to impossible to solve. In short, we are losing opportunities for innovation due to an incomplete national HPC infrastructure.

The most formidable barrier of HPC adoption is the lack of simple and cost-effective tools available for use. Just as the graphical user interface (GUI) made desktop computing accessible, and web browsers made networking popular, the right tools are needed to make HPC widely effective.

That is, supercomputers are too hard to use for most businesses.

OSC lists some good next steps to make Blue Collar Computing happen, like public-private collaborations, training and better tools, but one focus is clearly missing in my view: focus on the total user experience by utilizing user-centered design methods. A focus on reducing complexity, usability, understanding user needs, iterative design, etc. is what has made the GUI and the web what they are today. It is long overdue for supercomputers to catch up.

Writing at Clustermonkey, Stanley Ahalt and Kathryn Kelley (from OSC) sum it up well in their article HPC for the Rest of Us. The biggest barrier is: "Hard to use means hardly used – at least by the broader community".

The other news is that this may be going national. USACM reports that legislation for a similar effort has been introduced. About the bill:

We shall see if this catches on at the federal level. And if "blue collar" joins "user friendly" as another way to say "easy to use".

Management by discovery

An IA Institute job posting for "System Designer / Prototyper" at Klein Associates in Dayton reminds me of the "Management by Discovery" workshop that I attended in March. The workshop was part of the Mind your leadership conference at BGSU. (I missed the rest of the conference because I was travelling to the IA Summit.)

The workshop was officially titled "The cognitive dimenions of leadership: A practitioner's toolkit." I had no expectations, was mainly attending because it sounded interesting and it was close to home - worth the risk of a day of my time. What surprised me was that I already knew a lot of this stuff because Gary Klein is well-known for Cognitive task analysis and other HCI work (not sure how I missed Gary up until then). I had "stumbled" into an HCI person presenting to a business audience, so I felt right at home.

Management by Discovery is different than Management by Objectives and other management styles because it focuses on emergent goals (instead of upfront, well-defined goals, which never happens anyway). It means a lot of story-telling, sense-making, iteration and other things we assume with a user-centered design approach. "Taking UCD to the management decision level" might be a good summary.

Jay Rothman added his expertise on conflict engagement to the workshop. This was Gary and Jay's first collaboration on this topic.

All-in-all, a good day for me - sitting with a bunch of organization development people and "peeking over the fence" back at my own profession.

Ohio Attorney General does web design

I wonder if the Attorney General included a wireframe to show exactly where he wanted the "report misconduct" button placed on every MySpace.com page? Should it be a button or just a hypertext link? Could he provide the user flow of the verification process?

(See: Attorney General Jim Petro Urges Web Site Operator To Take Steps To Protect Children if you have no idea what I am talking about.)

Some of those may be good suggestions: just not clear to me what qualifications the AG has as web designer. Did he do any usability testing or rely solely on my web heuristics?

If Subodh is elected, would he appoint an "Information architect general" for the state of Ohio to help him?

BGSU Computer Science grads return to talk

A pair of alumni from where I earned my degrees, Bowling Green State University Computer Science, are visiting us over the next few weeks.

On March 30th, Shantanu Narayen, President of Adobe, will be on campus to talk about Web 2.0, Rich Internet Applications, and Adobe's strategy for innovation.

On March 21st, Brian Rudolph (now with Systems & Applications, UNLV) will share stories about being a Software Engineer at SEGA, the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, and life in Las Vegas. Last year I was watching some cable show about beating the odds in Vegas and was surprised to see Brian talking about slot / poker machines.

Brian will be talking at 7:30 pm in Hayes 111. Sponsored by the BGSU student ACM chapter.

It is great to see my colleagues doing well - and even better to have them coming back to BGSU to tell us about their escapades.

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