Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy New UX Year - So Much to Do!

Following up on last night's post which listed opportunities for professional development, education and training, now I get to share more generally about the UX Speakeasy meetup. Last night we held our Happy New UX Year. At this annual event we share ideas and inspiration about what is going on in the UX world in the upcoming 12 months.

Our most esteemed leader Bennett King deftly facilitated the evening and wielded his almighty power to
keeping things moving. Ben also talked about the zillions of conferences out there and why you might want to choose one or another. As he pointed out, conferences aren't cheap, but if you choose wisely, conferences can be very important for advancing your career. They are a great source of networking if you do more than collect Tshirts and hang out with your pals.

Indeed, one of the most important lessons I learned early on about conferences is that they are an unparalleled opportunity to meet new people who can help you grow professionally. In addition, you have the opportunity to help others grow professionally. It goes both ways.

Hey, if you are going to pay all that money and take the time out of your regular schedule, you should make the most of it. Be strategic. It's not just about picking up swag (cool as some of that swag can be). One of the clear messages of the evening: you should find a way to attend conferences.

With that in mind, I want to draw your attention to a few conferences in particular of all the ones Ben talked about last night. First of all, the Annual Conference of the IxDA is the biggie that UX Speakeasy is affiliated with. It probably has it all for the UX crowd: a combination of industry and academic people and themes, keynotes that go beyond UX, it's global (it's always good to get out of your own country's perspective for a while) and...there will be karaoke.

On the other hand, if Amsterdam in February is more than you can manage (brrrrrrrr), those of you in the US might find it easier to go to Midwest UX next October in Indianapolis. Indy, as it is affectionately known, actually has a lot going for it as a place to visit, and at that time of year you might very well get to see some outstanding Fall foliage - always a big draw and for good reason. 

For those of you in the local Southern California region, we have some good stuff coming up right here. So you have little excuse for not going to at least one of them. We have World IA Day, one of whose many global locations next month will be  in Los Angeles. I attended World IA Day last year, having no idea what to expect, and it was amazing. I'm not just talking about the Magic Bus that UX Speakeasy members had the opportunity to take either (and which may be available again this year).

Not only that, we have the AIGA Y Design Conference here in San Diego this March, ValioCon in June,  and the IA Summit will also be here in March! IA Summit is a biggie and we are very psyched to have it here this year. Aaron Irizarry, who is chairing the conference this year, gave us an enthusiastic intro to the conference last night.

Lest I neglect to mention it: OF COURSE we plan to hold another one of our famous sold out UX Speakeasy conferences next fall! Stay tuned for more info as things develop.

There were many more conference listings, but rather than itemize them all, I want to mention a few other things about last night's meetup. For one thing, it was held in a very cool place: Modern Times Beer,  which had several noteworthy things going for it. For one thing, the walls are worth a visit in themselves. One of the enormous three story high walls is plastered with pages from comic books. Another wall is a giant picture of (I think) Michael Jackson and a monkey made entirely out of post-it notes. Really, three stories high and all post-it notes.

There was some greasy munchy food and one of the choices was meatless enchiladas. I can't tell you how happy I was to have a tasty choice for non-carnivores. On top of that, at the bar they had the option of an itty bitty 4 ounce beer for those people (of whom there are more than you might think) who just want a little taste and not a big glass. Major kudos to Modern Times for both these items!

Finally, in the "you had to be there" category: I was talking to a friend, and standing not far from the sign-in table where people were picking up their name tags. Two guys walked up to us and introduced themselves as first time attendees. One of them said his name was Garron. They started asking us what the group was all about.

Talk about bad luck!  Clearly intuiting that this was the place to be last night, these two guys (who had been across the street practicing for a band) came in and borrowed [ahem] name tags. It just so happens that Garron is one of the Speakeasy committee members. Then these two guys walk up to two of the other committee members (yup, not just me but my friend as well) and introduce themselves as our colleague. Nice Try Guys!

After chatting for a few minutes, we tactfully blew their cover just as the real Garron came along (no doubt looking for his name tag) and everyone had a good laugh. The two guys left shortly thereafter and another nice evening was had by all.

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