Thursday, February 19, 2009

Finally: IxDA 2009 – Vancouver, BC, Canada, in five parts


The Interaction Design Association is a young professional organization that just put on its second annual conference. I missed the first in 2008, held in Savannah, GA. I had wished to attend that one and heard good things about it. As 2008 closed, I wanted very much to go in 2009 but was uncertain given the economic climate and tightening finances at my current employer. However, positive thinking prevailed and I landed in Vancouver on Wednesday, February 4th full of anticipation and apprehension.

Why apprehensive? I felt like the new kid starting school in the middle of the year as well as a bit of an interloper. All of these people probably knew each other well and I had only met a few briefly. Plus, so many of them have degrees in a field barely ten years old! I felt unknown and unqualified to be attending. Also imposing was that my area of focus in interaction design has been speech recognition, little known and less understood. I have done some web and desktop app design, but nothing on the scale of many of the attendees. I was actually going to be around people responsible for design thought and work that I had admired for years. For me, it was a bit like being a guitar player (oh, actually I am) and getting to meet someone like Eric Johnson. But I knew virtually none of them would be able to relate to my daily craft. Nonetheless, I was determined not to be a wallflower and so to meet as many people as I could, find out more about them, and hopefully, make some sort of decent impression. Most of all, I hoped to really stretch my brain into design areas I have only dabbled in or read about, especially mobile and service.

Things started well right after arrival. An uneventful flight and border crossing led to sitting on a bus with three guys from Chicago’s Manifest Digital, Jim, Kevin, and Jason. They were there as sponsors and participants. We briefly traded details of who and where and then concentrated on finding our hotel. I would meet up with them again later, to my gain in more ways than one.

The afternoon weather was fantastic and I was able to walk around bit taking photos and had a bite to eat at Steamworks, a brewpub in Gastown. Their Coal Porter brew was the best micro I’ve had in a long time. After that, I headed to the room (by the way, I found the Four Seasons to be very comfortable and I had a great view) early due to no energy and wanting to be ready to learn in the morning. I followed a few arrivals via twitter and settled in.

Next, Day 1.