Sunday, December 15, 2013

Open Ears and Little Match Girl Passion

I joined the board of directors of Open Ears earlier this year.

Open Ears is a “Festival of Music and Sound”, the next edition of which is coming in June, 2014. There will be some great stuff happening, and artistic director Gregory Oh has been hard at work putting together what looks like will be a fantastic program. Announcements will come as things firm up and the marketing train gets rolling!

I’m excited about the musical adventures that I am a part of in my role at Open Ears. The main activities have been a little on-site volunteer work at the Between the Ears festival last May 30 and May 31 (along with one of my sons), and working through planning for next June’s main Open Ears event.

There’s another Open Ears event coming in just a few days that you should know about as well.

David Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion will be performed at Conrad Grebel College Chapel in Waterloo, at 2:30pm in the afternoon on Saturday December 21. You should really check out all the details, but the piece is based on a Hans Christian Andersen story about the dreams and death of a young girl, and draws musical inspiration from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Oh, and it’s the winner of a 2008 Pulitzer Prize and a 2010 Grammy Award!

Gregory told me last week that the performers have been moved to tears during rehearsals for Little Match Girl Passion, which is pretty amazing.

Tickets are available in advance online, and can also be purchased at the door. But really, why wait and risk disappointment? Get them online!

Monday, July 29, 2013

You’ve heard about Fluxible, right?

Fluxible: A User Experience Design Event
Once again, it’s been a long while between posts here. Oddly enough, though, I’d created several drafts on topics that, in some cases, no longer seem timely. I’ll see about getting to some of the others.

Meanwhile, one activity that has been a focus of my attention is ongoing preparations for Fluxible, this year’s edition of the user experience conference that I co-chair with Bob Barlow-Busch. Last year’s event was a wonderful success, as hinted at in the video that we released this past March, and this year’s version promises to be at least as engaging, enlightening, and energizing.

Have a look at the line-up of wonderful speakers who will be sharing their wisdom and experience through our program of talks and workshops. Of course, the chance to meet and talk with UX folks from a variety of settings remains an important part of Fluxible. Great stuff!

And, as was the case last year, the Festival of Interstitial Music will be happening concurrently in time and space with Fluxible. It’s pretty certain that we’ll have some fun surprises in store as well.

Registration remains a bargain, with Early Bird pricing available until August 9. Go register now to ensure that you’ll be able to attend what Bob and like to call the UX party conference.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Video highlights from Fluxible 2012

Some of you may recall that Fluxible is a user experience design conference that I co-chair with Bob Barlow-Busch. We ran the inaugural edition of it last September, and and currently planning the next edition for September 14 & 15 this year.

Here’s a video that we put together showing a few highlights from the first event, set to the toe-tapping tune “The Fluxible Song (More Than Users)”. Enjoy!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Text + Tech = productive fun


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m involved with REAP at the University of Waterloo. It’s a terrific program for the students and community partners who work together on various projects.

This past weekend I was fortunate to be a part of the Text + Tech event, a joint initiative between REAP and Pat the Dog Playwright Centre that saw technologists and theatre folks come together to help the latter better understand how emerging interactive display technologies might be incorporated into theatre pieces. It was hosted at Felt Lab, and at Quarry Integrated Communications.

It was a fascinating experience, with some unexpected insights.

Both groups were surprised by how often the question of whether something was possible was answered with yes, but with different perspectives. Theatre folks were surprised that something was possible, while technologists were surprised that the questions were so easy.

My favourite activity was when the whole group sat around a table and listened while each playwright outlined a piece they are working on, and asked how a display technology might be used to address a specific challenge. The discussions were fantastic. The process of collaborative problem solving was pretty much the same as what I experience in software product development. While details were different, we were all able to work together to discover potential solutions.

Everyone was happy to work together — there was no big gap between the arts and tech groups. Of course, as someone with a foot in both groups, that felt like business as usual for me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Silent, but keeping busy

It’s been quite a long while since my last post here. It was an unintentional break, caused by inattention and a focus on other activities.

uxWaterloo continues to be a monthly priority for me, and for the other folks who join in on our regular meetings. January featured a visit to Beertown on Waterloo to learn about designing a restaurant experience. We have another good one this month, with Daniel Iaboni talking about designing for augmented reality.

Also in January was Interaction 13, the annual conference of the Interaction Design Association. This year’s version was held in Toronto, and I spent the whole week there enjoying some terrific talks, and meeting some amazing people. There was much to learn and think about!

There was an Ignite Waterloo event to attend back in the fall, with another coming up this week. While I’m no longer directly involved in organizing the events, I’m looking forward to extending my attendance streak to a perfect 11 events.

I also made it out to the first meetings of the KW Ruby on Rails Developers meetup. We use Ruby on Rails at Karos Health, and it’s good to hear from others about their experiences and approaches.

Speaking of Karos, fall was very busy with preparations for our annual visit to Chicago for the RSNA conference. It was a rewarding experience, as always.

The biggest holder of my attention, of course, was Fluxible, which came and went last September and provided a great experience for everyone involved. We’re in planning mode for the 2013 edition of Fluxible, and should have news to announce soon. Needless to say, we’re excited about doing it again!

2013 is off to a great start, and I’ll be making a more conscious effort to keep this blog updated.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fluxible is almost here and you should register if you haven’t

The last few months have been busy on a number of fronts, but the one I that want to mention now is Fluxible. Fluxible, as I have written previously, is a user experience conference that I started with Bob Barlow-Busch and that he and I have been organizing along with a team of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers.

The work is all coming together as we enter the last few days of preparation in anticipation of our morning start on Saturday September 22 at the Conrad Centre in downtown Kitchener. The program that we ended up with is far more ambitious than we had initially envisioned, in part because so many amazing speakers were willing to join us, and in part because we lined of some very supportive sponsors. This is going to be a great event, with talks, workshops, and the chance to meet and learn from all kinds of amazing people. And we still have a few more surprises in store for everyone, which is saying something when you consider that we unveiled a theme song last month!

If you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time to do so. If you register now using the uxWaterloo promotional code, you’ll receive a $200 discount over the regular rate. It’s a fantastic deal for a weekend that looks like it will be an exceptional experience.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How we found venues for Fluxible

I wrote previously about how Bob Barlow-Busch and I approached finding speakers for Fluxible. Here’s a little bit of what went into finding our venues.

At the same time we were looking for speakers, we were also trying to figure out where Fluxible would be held. Obviously, decisions about venues were influenced by our program. But the reverse was also true, in that the venues we looked at affected our thinking about the program.

Going into this, we knew that we wanted to have talks. We knew that we wanted to have hands-on workshops. And we knew that we wanted a big party where everyone could socialize and have fun. As we looked at potential venues, our thinking clarified and we began to get specific ideas about what each of the spaces could offer.

In addition to what we wanted to use spaces for, there were a few constraints that we needed to keep in mind. These included:
  • a target date of Fall 2012
  • avoiding other major events that would be of interest to our audience
  • accommodating around 200 people
  • finding inspiring and energizing spaces that we’d enjoy spending time in
  • venue availability
  • access to parking, public transit, and restaurants
  • technical infrastructure to support our needs.
I had some experience with suitable venues in the region, from my years of helping to organize Ignite Waterloo. In fact, Ignite Waterloo had previously held events at two of the venues we eventually selected for Fluxible: the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts and the Communitech Hub. We wanted to be thorough, though, so we made sure to visit many other candidate venues as well.

In the end, after balancing our very real needs and constraints, we came up with a set of venues that worked out very well and that showcase some terrific buildings in downtown Kitchener. The Conrad Centre, where Saturday’s talks will be presented, is an amazing performance space that will put the focus on our speakers and their talks. Kitchener City Hall has some beautiful interior spaces that we’ll take full advantage of for a Saturday evening party. Finally, the Communitech Hub has been a big success story over the last couple of years, and will make for a delightful host for our workshops and closing party on Sunday.

As with our experience approaching speakers, the people who run these venues have been enthusiastically supportive of our event. They’ve made suggestions on how to get the most out of these spaces, and have pointed out a few surprising things that hadn’t even occurred to us. For example, we’ll have use of the beautiful council chamber at Kitchener City Hall!

We’re confident that Fluxible has found several good homes for 2012, and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Note: A sightly different version of this post originally appeared over at Fluxible. Thanks to Bob Barlow-Busch for the helpful edits.