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Michael Elledge

Today, March 1st, is Michael Elledge's first day on the job as the Assistant Director, Usability & Accessibility Center, Michigan State University. Congrats Mike! Yes, this is the story of an SI grad from U of M tackling MSUsability.

Internet User Experience conference

I will be presenting next week in Ann Arbor at the 2nd Internet User Experience. I hope to see someone else from Toledo there.

I will be presenting on standards - but the bad news is my colleague Will Smith cannot join me. The good news is he will instead be home in the Cincinnati-area with his new son Evan. Congrats Will and Kelly!

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ACM Chapter Workshop - November 19, Chicago

On Saturday, November 19th, I spent the day with other ACM local chapter leaders. We met with ACM staff and talked about how we can work together better. I guess it was an historic event - it has been over a decade since ACM staff and local leaders had gotten together. I was there representing ACM's newest revitalized chapter, NWOACM.

Local chapters and their representatives:

ACM representatives (staff and volunteers):

  • John White, CEO
  • Pat Ryan, COO
  • Lillian Israel, Director of membership
  • Terry Coatta, Chair, Membership services board
  • Steve Teicher, Membership services board
  • Wayne Graves, Director of Information Systems
  • Lauren Ryan, Local activities coordinator

I'll have to go thru my notes later and summarize, but one thing that struck me was that several of the things we local leaders were asking ACM (wikipedia) for were already available in some form. We just did not know about them, could not find them, or they were too hard to use. Let me point out a few of them in the short term just to help us all see what ACM is already doing to help local chapters.

Stay tuned for more, especially after the final report is issued.

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Gamer designer's delight

If you are a Toledo-area game designer, you have two choices next week for driving a few hours to world-class events in the region.

You can drive a few hours north to Michigan State to attend Future Play, October 13-15. Of note:

  • Sex and Gender Issues in Games
  • Game Design and Development Curriculum in Academia
  • Experiences, Stories and Video Games
  • Understanding and Enhancing the Players Experience
  • Using improvisational acting to shatter disciplinary boundaries

Or, you can drive a few hours south to Shawnee State to attend the Shawnee Conference 3.0 for Interactive Digital Technology, October 14. A few topics from the conference:

  • Gaming & Simulation: Serious Business
  • Ben's Game, a free video game where the player fights cancer cells
  • Game Research and Immersive Design

Both look interesting - send me a trip report if you go!

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Arrowhead park - user experience colleagues

I had a nice lunch with Mike Osswald yesterday. He gave me a tour of Hanson's new digs in Arrowhead Park. Very nice building: right between the former IBM building and the new IBM office (we recently down-sized the local office quite a bit and moved down the street).

I knew Hanson was making the move from downtown, but the Hanson logo just went up on the front of the building a few days ago, so I did not realize they had moved into the neighborhood. Welcome!

Hart Associates is just around the corner. Thread is on the other side of Arrowhead Park. Is there anybody in the business park doing user experience related work?

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NWOACM kick-off meeting - September 13th

Back in February, I sent an email to local ACM members, asking if anyone wanted to help revive our chapter in the Northwest Ohio area. Several people responded: we met and updated the by-laws and we are now officially an ACM local chapter once again. is our web site with the basic information about the chapter.

Now it is time for the next stage: to have meetings and get more people involved. To that end, we are having our chapter kick-off celebration in a few weeks.

  • What: NWOACM kick-off meeting
  • When: Tuesday, September 13, 2005, 6:30 pm
  • Where: Bowling Green State University, Olscamp 103 (building 45 on the BGSU campus -West map)
  • Who: Anyone interested in meeting other IT / computing professionals in the area. Especially welcome: people actively planning events for related organizations (like student chapters and other professional groups).

Rough agenda:

  • 6:30 pm: Networking and socializing
  • 7:00 pm: Meeting begins. Introduce chapter officers. Review plan so far and get feedback. Attendee introductions. Open discussion.
  • 8:30 pm: Adjourn the meeting, with individual discussions continued as needed

We will be notifying a lot of people by email in the next few days. Feel free to spread the word to your colleagues.

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A great job opportunity in Toledo

There are not a lot of job opportunities in the area for user experience professionals, but this is definitely the best job posting I have seen in a long time: Functional architect at Hanson. Some excerpts:

The Functional Architect is a senior-level position in the areas of information architecture, functional requirements specification and user interface design...includes specifying navigational rules and organizing information as it relates to the target audience's experience and goals...the ability to identify and understand needs of disparate user groups and map these needs into one set of comprehensive functional requirements.

I will be excited to see who they hire for this - and I will welcome him/her to our small UX community here in Northwest Ohio.

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CIO Forum on open source

I attended the Northwest Ohio CIO Forum on open source yesterday. I learned a lot about open source (vs. open standards, how various companies are treating it, and the common misconceptions about it), what CIOs care about (saving money, saving money and, um, saving money, and not very much about the "I" in their title nor creating value for the business), and met many interesting people. It was definitely the most-happenin' IT event in the Toledo area in several years.

Although "user experience" was only mentioned once, by Ron Eller, the overall themes that open source leads to choice and open standards allow companies to agree on the basics so that they can compete at a higher level, were prevalent.

Simple example: if you are locked into a certain vendor based on a word processor file format, you do not have much freedom to select a different vendor with a better experience for your users. If you have an open standard for file format, now you can pick your vendor based on more important needs, like quality of the word processor user interface. That vendor with the lock on the file format does not have very much incentive to improve the user experience because they already have your business. Finally, open source options that fit in with other software because of open standards let you mix-and-match the technologies, enabling you to create novel user experiences on your own, instead of waiting 5 years for a vendor to build it from scratch.

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Northwest Ohio ACM chapter

We have successfully revived the local ACM chapter - NWOACM. We updated our by-laws and created a "revitalization plan" and submitted them to ACM. The last record ACM had of any activity was in the mid 1980's, so one can argue whether we revived the old chapter or made a new one. We have the same name, and it looked like less paperwork to revive than to create anew. So let's call it a revival.

Now the tough work - executing on the plan. As you can see from some of the our thoughts on the web site, HCI, usability, and web design and user experience will be a common topic for the local chapter. That is, assuming that I can help us pull that part off!

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