Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic: Players on Twitter

This week is the 2010 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger here in the Toledo region. (I will be there Thursday, Saturday and Sunday mornings as a volunteer.) Last year, I followed some of the LPGA players who were in the field on Twitter: added to the tournament experience. So I decided to again see who was on Twitter.

Working from the Tournament Field List (on LPGA.com and as a PDF), I used the LPGA Players on the Web page, @LPGA's Tour Players list and some Twitter/Google searching to get a list of 44 Twitter accounts for the 148 players (see the table below).

I made my own Twitter list (jfocc-2010-players), in case you want to follow what the players are talking about during their week in the Toledo region.

Kyeong Bae: @KyeongBae Christina Kim: @TheChristinaKim
Mallory Blackwelder: @MalBlackwelder Mindy Kim: @mindykim89
Amanda Blumenherst: @Blumenherst Cindy LaCrosse: @CindyLaCrosse
Jane Chin: @janechin1121 (added, did not start)
Nicole Castrale: @NicoleCastrale (withdrew)
Stacy Lewis: @Stacy_Lewis
Irene Cho: @TheIreneCho Brittany Lincicome: @Brittany1golf
Chella Choi: @ChellaChoi Pernilla Lindberg: @pernillagolf
Paula Creamer: @ThePCreamer Paige Mackenzie: @Paige_Mackenzie
Diana D'Alessio: @DeeDAlessio Catriona Matthew: @Beany25 (did not start)
Meredith Duncan: @Meredith_Duncan Jill McGill: @jillymcgilly
Allison Fouch: @AllisonFouch Kristy McPherson: @KRISTY2208
Louise Friberg: @louisefriberg Janice Moodie: @Scotgolfer
Sandra Gal: @TheSandraGal Jane Park: @The_JPark
Morgan Pressel: @morganpressel76 (late addition to my list)
Julieta Granada: @Juliegranada Anna Rawson: @TheAnnaRawson
Natalie Gulbis: @natalie_gulbis Beatriz Recari: @BeatrizRecari
Nicole Hage: @NicoleHage Jean Reynolds: @TheJeanReynolds
Mina Harigae: @minaharigae Marianne Skarpnord: @MSkarpnord
Maria Hernandez: @Mariasgolf Angela Stanford: @Angela_Stanford
Maria Hjorth: @mariahjorth Karen Stupples: @Kstupples
Vicky Hurst: @TheVickyHurst Kris Tamulis: @kktamulis
Liz Janangelo: @PumpkinPutts Yani Tseng: @YaniTseng (withdrew)
Nicole Jeray: @golfnjeray Mariajo Uribe: @MariaJoUribe
Katie Kempter: @KKempter Alison Walshe: @Walsheyyy (late addition to my list)
Leah Wigger: @leahwigger

(Updates to the field made at 7pm, June 28. Again at 8am on July 2. Again at 2pm in July 3.)

I bet I missed some players in the field who have Twitter accounts, but since I found 9 players that were not on the LPGA lists, I thought I did pretty good. If you happen to know of anyone I missed, let me know.

Also, if you are tweeting about the tournament, I suggest you use the hashtag #JFOCC to give fans a single place to go for news and updates for the week.

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Research and practice gaps

I will have a focus on the gaps between research and practice in user experience during my April conference run.

From April 7-10, I will be in Phoenix at the 2010 IA Summit. On Saturday the 10th, I am hosting a discussion on Bridging IA Research and Practice with Andrea Resmini.

We tried to get a pre-conference consortium organized, but will settle for this meeting to hopefully get a head start on 2011. The "research track" at the IA Summit has been a slowly traveled, winding road. One bend was a panel in 2006 and I wondered then if we had turned a corner. Still looking.

From Phoenix, I fly directly to Atlanta for CHI 2010. I am part of a great team that organized a Sunday workshop on Researcher-Practitioner Interaction (the call for participation has passed, but it has a good overview).

I am looking forward to the workshop because I get to spend the day with people who know a lot more than me about the challenges facing the HCI research and practitioner communities. There are a lot of great ideas for closing the gap which have surfaced in their position papers; but there are no easy answers.

If the topic interests you but you are not already part of the workshop, then you can attend our special interest group meeting at 9am on Wednesday, April 14th: How to bring HCI Research and Practice Closer Together. We will recap the workshop and engage more people in the conversation. After it is all done, I hope we will have something substantial to back to the community.

So far, I only know of 1 other person crazy enough to hit the overlapping IA Summit and CHI conference. If you are also one of these crazies, contact me. If you are just a "normal crazy" who is attending only one of these 2 awesome conferences, then be sure to track me down and say hello.

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Google search results to include breadcrumbs (again)

A recent Biznology article by Frank Reed talks about the impact of a Google search results change on search engine optimization efforts. Google recently announced two changes in the way it helps users understand how an item in its result set fits into the context of the destination site:

  • Replacing the URL (that appeared after the abstract) with a breadcrumb. The breadcrumb is a combination of domain name and the site hierarchy that Google has extracted from the site.
  • Having each element of the breadcrumb go to the appropriate high level section of the site. What was once a single URL (was it a link or just a URL?) to the page could now be several links to higher-level pages on the destination site.

Frank worries about how this affects SEO activities: you work hard to get a specific page listed for a specific search term, and then Google lets the user go to a different page on your site. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

Of course, I am more interested in the breadcrumb aspect. These are what I call "attribute breadcrumbs" because they help describe the nature of the object. (The debate about the value of location breadcrumbs on pages continues.)

I wonder if anyone on the Google team remembers back around 2002 when their results also had breadcrumbs? In those days, the breadcrumb was a "category" from the Open directory project. Here is an example I grabbed back then, for a search on "monty python and the holy grail":

Look for the "Category" links after the abstracts and before the green URL. They give you a clue to what the link is about. Notice the first result, for PythOnline: the title and abstract are not clear but the Category says it is about a video game. The 3rd result is actually about Flying Circus; the 4th result is indeed about the movie; the 5th, trading cards. The category, presented as a breadcrumb, might help you find your holy grail...

Back then, the "category" was a single link to ODP, not a list of links to the destination site. For example, the 4th result would be Arts > Movies > Titles > M > Monty Python and the Holy Grail where you can find more links about the movie.

Will this version of breadcrumbs survive longer? Does it fix some key problem the previous version of breadcrumbs had? Perhaps users are more familiar with presenting a hierarchy in this format now? Will users understand the "..." in the middle? What user research is driving this change? The Google blog posting says this will both improve the way it represents web sites and help users explore content. I guess time will tell.

And what will the ripple effect be of Google using attribute breadcrumbs on its search engine results page (SERP)? Will more sites start doing breadcrumbs as a result ("Google told us to add breadcrumbs to our site")? What about multi-faceted web sites that do not have a single hierarchy for their pages: will they be penalized by Google? Will users start to pick up on them on SERPs and expect them on the rest of the web? When user experience teams do evaluations of their web sites, will they notice more users making comments about breadcrumbs? Will sites built on platforms like Drupal that do breadcrumbs well see a boost in traffic? Will there be a backlash against bothering with carefully-crafted URLs if they do not show up on SERPs any more?

This new feature has not appeared on any normal Google searches I have done since the announcement, so obviously, it is still too early to tell. According to This week in search, 11/20, there are some queries where the attribute breadcrumbs are showing up. My favorite is Venn diagram (too funny given the number of 3 circle diagrams generated by the user experience community). What I notice:

  • Only a few items have breadcrumbs instead of URLs.
  • When the green URL is shown, it is never clickable (was it before?). When an attribute breadcrumb is shown, the domain name is not a link either.
  • The most interesting example is Wolfram MathWorld where the site has three location breadcrumbs at the top and Google used the first. Exactly how Google extracts breadcrumbs from pages could drive some "interesting" changes to sites.
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My schedule, November 10 & 12

I am attending two "local" events in mid-November. Hope to touch base with colleagues in the area I have not seen in a while - and meet some new ones, too, of course.

The first is the Smarter Cities Cleveland Forum on November 10th. From the description:

Cleveland Smarter Cities Forum will create a peer-to-peer exchange for mayors, civic leaders and businesses to engage with like-minded thinkers and shape the blueprints for smarter cities. We will discuss new approaches to regional partnership, identify roadblocks, evaluate frameworks for investment and review the tools and technologies that are making our urbanizing planet more instrumented, more interconnected and more intelligent. As leaders, we all have a vital stake in ensuring that our cities become more resilient, more sustainable and more secure. Indeed, the health of our planet and of society depends on it. We are pleased you will be joining us to start shaping that future.

IBM has hosted larger Smarter Cities events, so I am excited to be able to attend one near me. I am going partly to get out of the house (telecommuting is great but it wears on you), partly to learn some things myself, but mostly to spend time with my users. That is, get a little closer to the people who are interacting with aspects of the Smarter Planet web presence. I won't be doing any formal usability studies, just hanging out and listening.

If you are attending, leave a comment, send me an email, DM me, whatever, so I know to look for you there.

Two days later on November 12th is World Usability Day, with its theme of Designing for a sustainable world - a definite connection with Smarter Cities. Each year of WUD, I have done something different (05/San Francisco, 06/Hosted locally, 07/Chicago, 08/Cleveland) and I had several good options again this year.

Since I was in Cleveland last year, I decided to attend the festivities in East Lansing, Michigan this year: Designing for Sustainable Communities. It has been several years since I went to something hosted by the MSU Usability & accessibility center, too long.

Cleveland is having a great WUD event again and Dayton has another great WUD event planned (with a warm-up for the "kids"). Kent State has its own this time. There is one in Columbus but usually a few others emerge in the capital area as well. I am sure I am missing other World Usability Day events near me.

IBM celebrates World Usability Day with an internal company-wide webcast. It might be opened up to the outside this year, which would make it fun to attend while at a face-to-face event.

If you are also from the Toledo area and going to the MSU WUD event, drop me a line. I could use a ride up, but do not need a ride back.

Panel: Effective user experience professionals and teams

I am honored to be one of the panelists at tonight's Michigan UPA / MOCHI meeting: What makes an effective user experience professional and team (UX management perspectives). Here is an outline of what I will cover in my 5-10 minute introduction.

A few related conference sessions I have been to:

Possible debate topics:

  • Methods and deliverables for individuals and teams. Personas, usability test analysis, how many users, … Does any of it even matter today? Which methods and skills will stand the test of time? Which will not?
  • Engagement models for "the UX team" (and org chart concerns). Part of the organization, Loaned to the team, Part of the project, Consultant, Reviewer, Enforcer, Ignoring. Should there even such thing as a "UX team"? When short on resources, it is OK to "teach and deputize" UX responsibilities?
  • Agile vs. Waterfall. Is Agile evil or what "UCD" has meant all along? Or both? Are you a Newtonian or a Quantum mechanic? Is there a unified field theory for UX? Do the UX skills transfer between Agile & Waterfall? What else may need to change?
  • Individual UX skills. Jack-of-all trades/generalist, T-shaped, Specialist. Should you be an "Interaction designer/IA/etc.", a "UX person" or a "person who does good work, including planning good experiences"?

Looking forward to hanging out. Hope we get good participation from the audience and a lively debate.

Tickets still available: July 11, UX with Mud Hens

I am organizing a local get-together where you can hang out with others who are interested in user experience. We chose a truly-Toledo location: a Mud Hens ball game.

What: User Experience Day with the Mud Hens
When: Saturday, July 11 (first game of the double header starts at 5:30pm)
Where: Fifth Third Field, downtown Toledo, Ohio

Would you like to enjoy the company of fellow interaction designers, information architects, usability engineers, developers and others interested in enabling quality user experiences for their customers? And enjoy the world-famous Toledo Mud Hens in a double-header, with fireworks after the games? Bring your family, too, if they are willing to put up with us talking about user experience in between pitches.

40 tickets have been reserved for this group outing. Tickets will cost $9. The ticket order will be placed in mid June, so if you are interested, please contact me.

Tickets are still available! If you are interested, you can send me an email (keith2009 at this site) or leave a comment below. Help spread the word: I am hoping I can meet new people from Refresh Toledo and re-connect with colleagues from AIGA Toledo who I have not seen recently. And I will be happy to welcome anyone else who is crazy enough to come to a baseball game to share their passion about user experience.

We already have families coming from out of town (Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus areas) so we may also meet at the Toledo Zoo in the morning. Join the fun!

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Upcoming local (Toledo, OH) and area events

Spring is in the air here, and as the weather gets warmer, all sorts of things to do are popping up for people interested in user experience.

This is where you will find me in the next 6 weeks or so.

Add in a "spring break" trip to Boston for CHI 2009 and I will be busy. I have not recovered from IA Summit 2009 yet.

There is a lot more happening in the region - things I wish I could attend but I just won't be able to.

Whew! (I am sure I am missing some other things, too.) A good sign, tho: if you live around here and are interested in user experience, you have lots of opportunities to spend time discussing UX in lots of different contexts with lots of different groups.

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UX+IA workshop: Toronto, June 2008

In the better-late-than-never category, let me tell you about something I did last summer. In June, we took a family vacation to Toronto: while there, I did a TorCHI talk, and helped lead a "hands-on" workshop about information architecture. It is that workshop that I never got around to mentioning here.

The original TorCHI call for participation gives a good overview of what we set out to do. Paul McInerney, my co-collaborator who talked me into doing this and did at least as much work as I did, if not more, came up with this recap of the topics we actually covered:

  • Site sections: When to use, types, navigation design within and between site sections. Case study: Large IT vendors, specifically ibm.com.
  • Role based IA: Defining suitable roles, designing the top level categories and navigation based on the roles, if and when to use a role-based approach. Case study: City government sites, including Toronto and others that have contrasting approaches.
  • Wireframes: Challenges and best practices using wireframes, such as fidelity, ownership, expectations, tools, Agile methods. Case study: Examples provided by participants.
  • Putting it all together: A holistic discussion of web site issues, including those covered in the prior sessions. Case study: Transit authority web site.

We divided the day up into 1.5 hour sessions, with breaks and a nice, long lunch. So it made for an intense but very rewarding day.

Some of the key aspects of this workshop (that I think made it better than whatever might be considered the "usual"):

  • Making it activity-based, not lecture-based. Learning is more fun when you are doing it, not just listening to it. I have to admit that I started out too lecture-y at the beginning of the workshop day, but by the end, the participants were "leading by doing" and I was just sitting back and advising more.
  • Tackling some of the thornier issues in information architecture, like task-based and role-based organizational schemes. I know, "role-based IA does not work" is the surface-level response, but we wanted to dig deeper to really understand why it does not work - and perhaps, even, discover some situations when it does.
  • Adjusting the topics based on what the attendees wanted to talk about. "Wireframes" was not something I had in mind initially, but each participant submitted a list of "burning issues," we voted and wireframes came up to the top. (Note: Chapter 10 of Communicating Design was required reading for this topic.)
  • We had experienced people attend, and capped it at about 10. I love teaching the basics to newcomers, but this was about "doing advanced IA" with peers in a close-knit setting. I am sure the participants learned more from each other than they learned from me.
  • Using common, local scenarios to "make it real." We were in Toronto, so we gravitated towards Toronto-area local government and transit authority examples.
  • Preparing each section in detail, with "learning goals," "preparation materials" (aka "homework to do before the workshop") and "exercises." It was a lot of work to prepare, and it took some commitment from the participants. We did not always stick to the master plan, but it was good to map out the day in gory detail so that we could decide as a group when the flow of the day was pushing us in a better direction.
  • A "putting it all together" session at the end of the day. We debated whether this would work, or whether we should just have a 4th deep topic. This was my favorite part: I did see people incorporating the sub-site, task and role IA issues from earlier in the day into the holistic user experience session at the end.

I really enjoyed it, and the feedback I got from the participants indicated they liked it too. It was worth their time and money, it seems. What prompted me to write this summary is that Paul/TorCHI are going to try it again. Check out the UX Irregulars post for some initial information.

If you are an IA in the Toronto area, I definitely encourage you to sign up to get more information about the 2009 version. While I am glad I did it last year, I am more glad to give someone else a chance to lead it this year (too darn busy). I think we showed that the basic idea of "a hands-on workshop for experienced practitioners to tackle deep problems" is sound. Now someone else can work on perfecting it.

Service Science: Design for Scaling and Transformation

IBM colleague Jim Spohrer mentions a new book by Cheng Hsu of RPI - Service Science: Design for Scaling and Transformation - that seems to be knitting together "Web science" and "Service science" - and perhaps other things (something that I have been struggling with).

Jim quotes part of the book above. I also found the preface (PDF) listed by Professor Hsu. I found these bits interesting:

  • "My original intent was only to write a different kind of a scientific book about service...one offering an interdisciplinary explanation to why service matters..."
  • "What does 'a connected world' mean? Does service require a different kind of design science? What will be the next waves of the Web? How to make enterprise information systems adequate for service scaling? How to unite cyberspace with physical space? Is it feasible to massively connect independent information resources everywhere? Is a service-led revolution reality or gimmick?"
  • "The situation is not unlike what Management Science faced in 1950's and Computer Science did in 1960's. A counter example is Information Technology of 1990's, which is a would-be field that failed to materialize scientifically."
  • "If a new service science is for real, then it has to be interdisciplinary and integrative, as opposed to merely being multi-disciplinary."
  • "I believe a new population orientation paradigm has arisen in scientific research for the digitally connected world...Such a paradigm studies directly the population knowledge (laws and probabilities) rather than the inference of them through samples (laboratory prototypes and statistics)."
  • "I managed to establish a design theme for the new theory...the book also embarked on analyses of new business designs emerged on the Web since the original e-commerce/e-business, and projected the theory onto their next waves."

Jim is thanked for his contributions to the book, which is not surprising, since he is "Mr. Service Science" at IBM.

This is one of those "research" books, so it is expensive, and to be honest, I am sure I won't understand all of the theory in it (there is a reason I am a practitioner and not a researcher), but it still looks worth buying to me. I am not sure Hsu's "design" is the same as what I consider "design," but I will get the book and find out.

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Design and Adoption of Social Collaboration Software within Businesses

The special interest group that I helped propose for CHI 2009 was accepted. I am working with 3 IBM colleagues (Jason Blackwell, David Schwartz, Sandra Kogan) and John Sheridan.

Design & Adoption of Social Collaboration Software within Businesses
Abstract: Social networking and collaboration sites are having a large impact on people’s personal lives. These same applications, similar functions and related experiences are being adopted within businesses. This special interest group will address the issues around social collaboration software in the business setting. What is the value for the business and its users? How do you measure success? What strategic design and user experience issues are key for successful adoption? What roles do user experience professionals play in this type of social system?

Since one of the premises of the session is that the popularity of sites like Facebook are affecting how organizations are thinking about collaboration software, we thought it would be appropriate/ironic to use Facebook itself to promote the SIG, get feedback from possible attendees, and to document what happened at the SIG. Check these out if you are interested:

  • Facebook event for information about the SIG
  • Facebook group for discussions before and after the SIG, in case a group of people interested in the topic evolves

If you are going to be at CHI 2009 in Boston, I hope you consider coming to our SIG. If you are not familiar with SIGs, do not expect to just sit and listen to presentations. There will be lively debates, break-out groups so you can explore topics you are interested in, and networking. Get people interested in a topic in the same room for an hour and a half and see what happens.

If you are interested in the topic but are not attending CHI, you can still join the group and participate in the discussion.

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