Should information architects be code-monkeys?

08.04.2011 | Author: Eris Reiss

At the recent IA Summit in Denver, CO, the inimitable Jared Spool suggested that information architects could do their jobs better if they knew how to code. This provocative statement did indeed provoke a lot of comment. So in answer to Jared, and as a little bit of Friday fun from the team here at FatDUX Copenhagen, let me offer my own bit of code (as opposed to cipher).

0041701        1071510        0391309        0791505        0050808        1120614

2021501        1901014        0890405        0881501        1712310        1071506

1600911        1040809        0670103        1600911        0042509        0450413

0041701        0820306        2021501        0570104        0040811        0391309

1140107        1890811        1162003        1591801        1050401        1962901

0920702        0680407        1151302        1901014        0671903        1081303

0670103        0990805        0750204        0031301        0572512        0052814

0671903        0960309        0391309        1762707

BTW, Jared, we love your most recent book, Web Anatomy. Cheers from the DUXlings.

A logical puzzle. A cash prize.

25.03.2011 | Author: Eric Reiss
The story

Wendy was nervous about attending the 2011 IA Summit in Denver, Colorado. It was her first time at a major conference and she didn’t know a soul. But as this is an informal, friendly conference, her fears were unfounded. In fact, lots of people came up to her during the opening cocktail hour on Thursday evening to chat. And Linda even brought her a drink. By the time she had talked with Dr. Sternberg and three other IA/UX professionals, she was feeling pretty confident.

The challenge

From the following clues, can you name the first four people Wendy spoke with, the order in which they arrived, and the subjects of the various conversations?

The clues

1. One person, who operates a small west-coast studio, came up to Wendy to talk about service design. This person stepped up just before Andy, but after Ms. Smith.

2. Another person was particularly interested in personas and had many ideas to share with Wendy. This was after Prof. Jones had congratulated her on winning a FatDUX student sponsorship to the event.

3. Someone had just finished reading a post on the FatDUX blog about “Writing for the Web” and was all excited about content strategy. This was just after Wendy had spoken with Hansen, who was the next person to approach her after Lynn.

4. “I’m so jealous of your work,” said Wendy to the person who came up to her and talked about wireframes. “Deliverables are simply SO exciting!” The wireframe expert was the person who showed up just before Jeff.

The prize

As a prize, FatDUX will be awarding a USD 50 gift certificate that can be redeemed at any participating…oh screw the formalities…Eric will give you fifty bucks cash to use any way you want. But you do have to show up in Denver to collect it!

So there you have it. Can you solve the puzzle? You’ve got all the information you need. Now show us that as an information professional you know how to handle information challenges!

Send your answers directly to Eric at er (at) fatdux (dot) com. First right anwer takes the prize.

Offer may be void in Southeastern Montana, parts of central Romania, and at 924 West End Avenue, NYC. Check local regulations before responding. Employees of FatDUX are not eligible for the cash prize, but if you show up at the Hyatt Regency bar in Denver, we won’t disappoint you.

User experience and project management

30.03.2009 | Author: Eric Reiss
At the recent IA Summit in Memphis, Tennessee, I was asked to host a luncheon table for a group of folks interested in project management/UX. Loay Alfi of the University of Indiana, who had attended a table I had hosted the previous day, suggested this topic as a natural extension of the first discussion - the business value of UX.

Loay's question was simple (although the solution is not): who "owns" user-experience on a project team? What is the role of the project manager? How does one manage effectively in an "agile" environment? What will happen when folks start working seriously toward creating user experiences that transcend the online and offline worlds? How do we keep egos from getting in the way? Who has the most clout - project managers or project owners?

The eight of us at the table, Loay, Wolf, Matt, Craig, Kathryn, Carrie, Sam, and myself, discussed the various ways in which we currently handled these matters. But we know that there are more (and better) ways to create effective UX integration and more efficient project management.

Hence, we agreed to use this blog to collect ideas that can begin to form a body of knowledge around these issues. We look forward to hearing your comments, solutions, war stories, and other goodies. 


Loay Alfi and Eric Reiss in Memphis

FatDUX recipe #1 - BBQ ribs, big duck style

26.03.2009 | Author: Eric Reiss
I always get a little hot under the collar when folks tell me that user experience (UX) is something that takes place strictly online. Nonsense! I’m about to give you a recipe for BBQ ribs that will change your life. And if that ain't user experience, I don't know what is.

Memphis, blues, and BBQ
Yesterday, I got back from Memphis, Tennessee from the 10th annual Information Architecture Summit (which probably needs to be renamed the UX Summit…but that’s a different blogpost).

Memphis is a city in distress. Countless vacant storefronts cast their darkened eyes at deserted streets. Clearly, Memphis has never fully recovered from any of the earlier economic downturns. Locals tell me the city has been on a downward spiral for decades. Even so, the populace remains amazingly open and friendly despite their hardships.


Memphis by day

The truth is, after you’ve seen the sporadic attractions – Elvis’ Graceland, Sun Studios, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the ducks swimming in the fountain at the Peabody Hotel – the cultural experiences are limited.

Two factors, though, provide life-support to the dying town: blues and barbeque. And I love them both.


Beale by night

Good eating in Memphis
Beale Street is the cultural center of Memphis. Every honky-tonk and café has a blues band. And BBQ is literally the order of the day – ribs and pulled pork. For the vegetarians, there’s also fried catfish, fresh from the muddy Mississippi River, about a half mile down the road. If you're a strict vegetarian, you'd best stay home.


Menu from the Blues City Cafe, corner of Beale and Second.

Memphis-style ribs are great, but a little dry for my liking. So in the interest of promoting offline user experience, I’d like to share my own favorite recipe for BBQ ribs.

Big Duck Eric’s Fabulous BBQ Ribs
There are two key ingredients in this recipe: rub and marinade. Prepare them both and then I’ll tell you how to use them.

Rub: (mix in a small bowl)
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder (sweet chili if available or “sweet delicacy” paprika)
2 teaspoons coarse salt (sea or kosher)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley (crushed)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (crushed)
1 teaspoon sugar

Note: this is COOKING not baking. So exact measurements are not particularly critical. Honestly, if you triple the amount of oregano, the recipe will still work. Personally, I triple the amount of bourbon (see below).

Marinade: (mix in a big bowl)
1 cup pineapple juice (apple works, too, but NOT orange juice, which is too sour)
1 cup cheap dry red wine (cheap but still drinkable)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vinegar (cider is best)
1/2 cup soy sauce (Chinese not Japanese - we want the extra salt)
1/4 cup yellow mustard (Dijon can be used if necessary)
A generous dollop of bourbon (exactly 73 ml – more or less)
1 teaspoon (minimum) hot sauce (Tabasco, Frank’s, Crystal, whatever)

Another note:
1 tablespoon = 15ml (in Australia, this is 20ml, but it doesn’t really matter)
1 teaspoon = 5ml (same in Australia)
1 cup = 250ml (who the hell knows what it is in Australia)

Putting it all together
Trim the fat off 2 kg (4-5 pounds) of pork ribs (loin back or meaty spareribs). Rub them on both sides with the rub (use your fingers – there’s no neat way of doing this, which is why it’s called a “rub”). Use more rub on the meat side; less on the bone side.

Arrange the ribs in single-use foil roasting pans (you’ll never get the residual gunk off of a regular roasting pan when you’re done cooking). Pour the marinade over the ribs and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Cut the sides of ribs to fit your trays as necessary – just make sure they’re immersed in the marinade.

Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees C (375 F, gas mark 4-5). Or arrange your Weber grill for indirect grilling. Or do the same for your gas grill, preheating on high and then reducing your heat to “medium”.

Place the uncovered pans on the grill (but close the lid on the grill since this is basically a roasting process). Spoon marinade over them regularly (baste), every 15 minutes or so. Let them bake for about an hour and a half or until tender (could be as much as two hours). You’ll know that they’re tender when you can pull two ribs apart in the center of the rack and the meat tears with little or no resistance.

If you like a more smoky flavor, you can throw water-soaked wood chips onto your charcoal grill during the last 30 minutes of cooking - apple and hickory work great; mesquite is a bit overpowering in combination with a sweet sauce like this.

I assure you, these are amazing ribs. Truly a user experience to be remembered. And if these get you hot under the collar, well, that’s the idea!


Come and get it!