Kevin Cheng  

2006 Conferences

January 3rd, 2006 by Kevin Cheng :: see related comic

For those of you that weren’t completely away from your computers, you may haven noticed that we had a few interesting slips. The most significant of which was the Case of the Missing Comic on Friday. We’ve had comics show up late late Friday but never not show up at all in our 2.5 years so this was a first.

Since history is written by the winners or, in this case, the one who is writing the article, I’ll just say: it was Tom’s fault.

Ok, no, it wasn’t at all Tom’s fault. Truth was that I had fallen ill at an inopportune time and subsequently embarked on a trans-pacific flight but I’ll spare the details. Suffice to say, all is well now - myself, the comic, and stylish Web 2.0 fonts.

Rather than talk about predictions, which I’m poor at, or the best of 2005, which has been done to death, I thought I’d spend some time talking about things I’m looking forward to. Specifically, it’s about T-minus 1.5 months from _conference season_. There’s the whirlwind of conferences from February to April, with a smattering in the summer and more in the fall. Each has different offerings for different people. Here’s a list, by no means comprehensive, of some I think are interesting and considering attending:

__Technology Entertainment Design (TED)__

Monterey, CA

Feb 22 - Feb 25

Attending: Yep. In the Simulcast Lounge.

Chris Anderson describes is as the “Pre-Release” of “Heaven” because in Heaven, you get to meet, talk to and interact with the greatest artists, thinkers, academics, entertainers that ever were. The only catch is the registration cost - and the need to apply for an invitation (but hey if I got one …).

__Emerging Technology Conference (ETech)__

San Diego, CA

Mar 6 - Mar 9

Attending: Unlikely

I’ve never been to ETech as it’s always in the middle of conference season with numerous other conferences I’d rather be at but those that attend seem to have good things to say about it. The topic this year is particularly relevant to readers here - The Attention Economy.

__South by Southwest Interactive (SxSWi)__

Austin, TX

Mar 10 - Mar 14

Attending: Yep. Speaking on a panel about Web Comics.

It’s been called, “spring break for geeks” because of the socializing and partying that occurs in the evenings but it’s definitely the best place to meet like minded individuals and discuss ideas without having to explain what a “tag” is.

__Information Architecture Summit 2006 (IA Summit)__

Vancouver, BC

Mar 23 - Mar 27

Attending: Yep. Will be doing a conference session and a preconference workshop.

IA Summit gets the most consistently positive reviews from designers and IAs alike. I have never been personally but this will be my first year and I’m looking forward to it.

__Computer Human Interaction 2006 (CHI2006)__

Montreal, QB

Apr 22 - Apr 26

Attending: Perhaps for Press coverage

This conference has typically been labelled as too academic for the practitioners but this year there’s a lot of effort being put in to represent both sides. The location can’t hurt, either.

__Usability Professionals Association 2006 (UPA)__

Broomfield, CO

Jun 12 - Jun 16

Attending: Almost Definitely Not

UPA seems to get consistently mediocre reviews from my peers who attend. As a professional organization, the conferences seem to be too beginner focused and their budgets unfortunately constrain them in telling ways (Broomfield?? and how about a more usable URL?). We haven’t been able to do press coverage for them yet for the same reasons so we don’t have first hand experience. We do have a paper there this year though!

__User Interface 11 (UI11)__

Cambridge, MA

Mid October

Attending: Sadly, Probably Not

From Jared Spool’s User Interface Engineering and in its eleventh year, this conference is not cheap but I like how they always try to bring in a range of experts and voices to speak. It’s sort of like the combo meal - you could easily see each of the speakers in their own workshops but here they’re all brought together and in a small enough gathering that you can interact with them.

__Design Engaged__

Unknown Location

Usually Around November

Attending: If I Can

Andrew Otwell’s brainchild has taken place in Amsterdam and Berlin. Not so much a conference as a retreat of a few dozen “engaged” designers who all participate through presentations. I’ve never been but love all the participants I’ve seen and everything I’ve ever read about it. I haven’t even asked Andrew if it’s happening this year yet and the small size of course comes at the price of limiting attendees, too.

There are other conferences, some at the international level , that I have less experience or knowledge of: HCI2006, UbiComp 2006, Euro IA Summit, etc. If there’s a particularly cool conference you think is worth the conference budget this year, do let us know. Many companies have one conference per year for their employees so it’s good to know what the choices are.

10 Responses to “2006 Conferences”
Mark Vanderbeeken wrote:

Hi Kevin,

You might also want to take a look at this list of conferences and events:
http://eventful.com/calendars/C0-001-000002941-1

Mark Vanderbeeken
Putting People First
http://www.experientia.com/blog

Peter Boersma wrote:

Kevin, feel free to ask me about Design Engaged and the next Euro IA Summit when you see me at the IA Summit ;-) By that time I’ll also have attended the first Italian IA Summit (hopefully) which may be the first in a series of smaller, national/state-sized conferences…

Mike Brown wrote:

Webstock is also going to be a wonderful conference, if you’ll forgive my pimping of it!

http://www.webstock.org.nz/

Kevin Cheng wrote:

>Kevin, feel free to ask me about Design Engaged and the next Euro IA Summit when you see me at the IA Summit ;-) By that time I’ll also have attended the first Italian IA Summit (hopefully) which may be the first in a series of smaller, national/state-sized conferences…

Thanks, Peter =) Looking forward to it. The Italian IA Summit that Peter mentions, for those itnerested, is at:

http://iasummit.it

Jay wrote:

I’m curious to hear more opinions about UPA. I’ve heard mostly good things about it, but I can’t remember anything specific.

Beth wrote:

STC has an annual conference that may be of interest (http://www.stc.org/53rdConf/). Typically associated with tech writers, STC’s conference has grown in recent years to include many UX-related sessions (especially in the usability & information design and tools & technology stems). This year’s conference is May 7-10 in Vegas.

Joshua Kaufman wrote:

What is the topic if your preconference workshop at the IA Summit?

Joe wrote:

Re: STC. Sadly, more UX-related seminars won’t be there. Apparently, that is, not for people who are not already UX experts. Two of my conference proposals were rejected: How to Sell UX and UX for Technical Writers. Seems that Mike Bates tells me that the reviewers thought they were too basic for the STC audience. Too bad.

My take on STC’s conference: Still mostly populated by UX-wannabes and severe whingers. but that could just be sour grapes on not getting to present in ‘Vegas.

Laurie wrote:

Never been to a UPA conference, but I can tell you about the 2006 conference location: Broomfield Colorado, 25 minutes from downtown Denver and just south of Boulder, which is a fun place to hike into the mountains, climb up ‘em, drink microbrews, etc. If you like that kind of thing.

Steve Krug wrote:

I am shocked (shocked) to hear your take on UPA!

Who *are* these so-called peers of yours, Kevin? I’ve always been impressed by both the quality and the range of presentations at UPA, partciularly the fact that they’re consistently practical (none of those “how many users can dance on a pixel” style nonsensical research papers), and they always leave time for lively Q&A.

My only problem at UPA is that I’m so often torn between three sessions at the same time that all sound good (as opposed to the familiar “Which one of these will be least boring?” decision at some other conferences).


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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?