Are "Smart Planet" and "World Usability Day" a match made in heaven or is it a silly idea to link them together?
Smart Planet is the buzz within IBM. More than just our next marketing ploy around "innovation" and unlike the declaration that the web was for real, this is something bigger. I am no expert at it (and I was not one of the bloggers given early warning), but I did know it was coming since ibm.com is going to be an important part of whatever it turns out to be.
Here are a few of the things that I have been watching/reading (the things I can share with you, at least):
There are many aspects that interest for me. A few things Sam mentioned during the Q&A of his talk hit home the most. One was mentioning Service science efforts within IBM. Another were the ways we have to work to solve these problems: multi-disciplinary, end-to-end, and collaboratively. Sounds like how I have worked as a user experience professional for many years. And the third piece is the overall importance that connecting things via web technologies will be, something else I am starting to get pretty good at.
What does this have to do with World Usability Day (which is going on as I write this, on the other side of the globe from me)?
- This year's theme is WUD Transportation: see the Global Transportation Challenge, read transportation experiences and many of the events will focus on transportation issues. For Smart Planet, one of the examples is about changing driving behavior.
- Last year WUD was about Healthcare, another common problem cited in the Smart Planet work.
- More generally, my participation in WUD the past few years has forced me to think more planet wide, more "worldly." I think it has helped prepare me for something like Smart Planet.
- I suspect I could make many more connections between the Earth-Day inspired World Usability Day and Smart Planet, but this is getting too long already. You get my point.
I have zero pull within IBM, but it makes sense to me that IBM should sponsor it in some way in 2009. If the company is really serious about Smart Planet, it needs to start sponsoring ways to foster the conversation, and World Usability Day 2009, with a theme of "Smart Planet" would be the perfect fit for a design thinking angle. If Sam gives me a call [LOL] then I will happily introduce him to Elizabeth Rosenzweig.
So as I reflect on this blog posting, and in anticipation of my World Usability Day starting tomorrow, I am left with one last thought.
User experience and information architecture cannot solve the world's problems, but with a push from the business world, the right political climate, and some inspiration, I am ready, willing and able to chip in and do my part. I do not really care what we call it.