Who am I?

18 May 2009 - 12:05am
5 years ago
44 replies
2869 reads
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

What do you call someone who sits squarely on the fence between interaction
design and implementation?

I am trying to new employment or consulting opportunities. I can find
opportunities for people skilled solely in wireframing and prototyping. I
can also find opportunities for people with nothing but implementation
skills. Neither of these is what I am looking for. I've been wearing both
hats for over two decades now.

Is the entire market focused on separating these two skills? It is driving
me mad that companies can't seem to grasp the value of having someone who
understands both sides of the process -- everyone seems to insist on having
two distinct groups who work through a chinese wall.

So who am I? And how do I find opportunities which actually make sense?

Comments

18 May 2009 - 8:59am
DampeS8N
2008

Anywhere that has swallowed IxD as a concept at this time has likely
been initially exposed to IxD through a variety of books. Almost all
of these books suggest that 99% of people CAN'T straddle these two
disciplines.

Why?

Because 99% of people can't.

It is rather like being a great web designer AND a great web
developer. Sure, there are a group of good designers who can bodger
their way through jQuery.

But that isn't the bread and butter of a developer.

There are a variety of developers, myself included, that are capable
designers. But I can't match the skills of someone who only does
that. Nor do I have the time to spend 8 hours in photoshop to get a
perfect look for something.

The reason these jobs are split, is the processes are split. They
should ideally happen at different stages, by different people.

The same is true of IxD. It isn't visual design, and it isn't code.

You might be one of the 1% that is capable of doing two of these. Or,
if you are also including in that graphic design, part of the very
very few who can do the whole process. But can you honestly say you
are expert level at all of it?

Will you have the time to devote to all of it?

I wish you luck in finding a place that welcomes you. But as an
alternative, consider getting a job implementing for a company that
doesn't know IxD exists. Plenty in the government. Because you will
have to do the IxD yourself, there.

You won't get paid extra for it, however.

Will

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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18 May 2009 - 9:58am
Dave Malouf
2005

Joshua, I disagree with Will.

1) I think that people can do both and there are many more who do.
They just don't call themselves Interaction designers. They are
usually called interactive or user interface designers.

2) is it a 100% percent mapping to IxD. Nope! but who cares. be
flexible. There are way too many places that need IxDs but can only
afford UI Dev. Go there. DO the IxD undercover w/o title and be a
great developer at the same time.

That is to say look for places that don't have any UX commitment (or
limited) and be a developer there. Don't just respond to ads, but
look deeper at the total positions.

Last place to consider putting your talents is as a prototyper. Be a
separate IxD, but promote yourself as a great prototyper. This will
give you a huge edge over other designers who can' t prototype at
higher fidelities as well as make your IxD design solutions more
approachable from stake holders.

So, I'd say, don't look for a position as a dual designer/coder.
Look for a position as a designer or as a programer but just BE the
designer/programmer that you are!

enjoy!
-- dave

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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18 May 2009 - 6:39pm
DampeS8N
2008

I agree with what Dave is saying.

But I also believe that the vast majority of people aren't as
competent as Dave. And the sublimely competent often imagine others
to be as competent as they are. Or at least a great deal more
competent than they really are.

It is very hard to be an expert at one thing, let alone more than
one. A few people can be experts at many things. More common is being
useful at many things. (A Jack of all Trades)

At the end of the day I think Dave and I are saying the same thing.
Be what you are! Don't dwell on a title!

But you should listen to beetlejuice. He is wise.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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18 May 2009 - 7:03pm
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

It wasn't so much about the title, but the finding of opportunities
(which ironically is about the title, since that's how you have to
find postings). In essence, it is the crappy "UX" surrounding job
posting sites that I'm railing against.

MyPerfectGig.com tries to break this model (focusing on skillset vs
title), but their execution is lacking.

So having said that, where is the perfect desktop/UX/architecture/dev
gig? Oh, and a telecommute too. If it isn't too much trouble. :-)

(**Seriously, though, I'll pony up a generous finder's fee for
this.)

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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18 May 2009 - 7:38pm
Alan James Salmoni
2008

Joshua,

Positions requiring both sets of skills are either rare (when they
grok design) or common (when they don't and want a developer 'with
an interest' in the design stuff). The first type of position tends
to be well-paid because the complete working skill-set is uncommon. I
guess that is what you are after than a close-to-base level position
churning out interface code.

No leads for you, sorry, but in my position, I am an interaction
designer only and I use my coding skills for hi-fidelity prototyping
and proof-of-concept; plus it gives me a leg-up when talking to
developers. Where I am, I cannot tackle the dev side as the dev
requirements are quite specialised. However, I can talk in tech terms
that we both understand which in turn makes communicating the ideas
easier and the whole process of making something a little smoother.
It's not a full dev job because I'm primarily a designer, but
coding skills aren't a negative point.

As for crappy postings - unfortunately, that is quite common. Some
see IxD as product management (seen postings asking for x years
experience making things), others as graphic design ("must have
design degree"), others as usability ("HCI degree essential"), dev
work ("5 years doing GUIs in C ") and probably others. Part of the
problem is the field because there are problems in defining its
boundaries (if there are any), and also us ourselves because we
can't agree what we are in terms that work for HR/recruiters. Hence,
they get confused and ask for all sorts, some of which are probably
better described under a different term.

Hope this helps Joshua and best of luck.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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18 May 2009 - 7:50pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> What do you call someone who sits squarely on the fence between interaction
> design and implementation?
>

Someone who is unlikely to be great at either, even if he was previously
great at one or the other.

I mean no offense by that — there's just far too much to know in either
niche to divide your time and still excel. It's hard enough doing *one* of
those things well. Sure, there are people who can do both, but they're rare,
and you there's not really any way to prove to yourself that you're one of
them without a bunch of other people telling you that you are.

-r-

18 May 2009 - 9:15pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On May 18, 2009, at 5:50 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr wrote:

> Someone who is unlikely to be great at either, even if he was
> previously
> great at one or the other.
>
> I mean no offense by that — there's just far too much to know in
> either
> niche to divide your time and still excel. It's hard enough doing
> *one* of
> those things well. Sure, there are people who can do both, but
> they're rare,
> and you there's not really any way to prove to yourself that you're
> one of
> them without a bunch of other people telling you that you are.

This is exactly the kind of thinking that will sink the current
generation of designers, be they IxD, IA or UX.

Go try other design disciplines for some comparisons. The amount of
knowledge one has to master in this profession is still orders of
magnitude less than other more mature design professions. Further, the
technology to build the front-end aspects of digital products
(software, mobile, touch-screen, etc.) is flattening at a very high
rate, which means if you refuse to master building something with your
own two hands -- and being fully in charge of its interaction, visual
aesthetic, architecture, organizational model, etc.-- you will find
yourself out of a job in the very near future.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

18 May 2009 - 10:03pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On May 18, 2009, at 10:15 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On May 18, 2009, at 5:50 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr wrote:
>
>> Someone who is unlikely to be great at either, even if he was
>> previously
>> great at one or the other.
>>
>
> This is exactly the kind of thinking that will sink the current
> generation of designers, be they IxD, IA or UX.

Gotta say, I'm siding with Andrei on this one.

I've found no evidence to suggest that someone talented couldn't be
great at both, if they put the effort into it.

After all, Paul Newman was a great actor and a great CEO. :)

And don't forget that DaVinci guy.

Jared

18 May 2009 - 10:18pm
Sharon Greenfield5
2008

>
> I've found no evidence to suggest that someone talented couldn't be
> great at both, if they put the effort into it.
>
> After all, Paul Newman was a great actor and a great CEO. :)

Aren't those the same? ;)

19 May 2009 - 1:16am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 19 May 2009, at 04:03, Jared Spool wrote:

>
> On May 18, 2009, at 10:15 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>
>> On May 18, 2009, at 5:50 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr wrote:
>>
>>> Someone who is unlikely to be great at either, even if he was
>>> previously
>>> great at one or the other.
>>>
>>
>> This is exactly the kind of thinking that will sink the current
>> generation of designers, be they IxD, IA or UX.
>
> Gotta say, I'm siding with Andrei on this one.
>
> I've found no evidence to suggest that someone talented couldn't be
> great at both, if they put the effort into it.
[snip]

I'll third that opinion.

Nobody can be an expert at everything. That includes being an expert
at all of "development" or all of "interaction design" too. Their both
broad fields that cover a lot of ground.

You can certainly be really good a enough of a subset of both to be
very, very useful. I'm seeing more folk who are good at both appearing
all of the time - coming from both sides of what people still seem to
think is a divide.

(There's also a lot more overlap between good developers and good
designers than many designers/developers think. I wish somebody would
do a mashup of Indi Young's Mental Models and Eric Evan's Domain
Driven Design for example :)

As for useful places for Joshua to look - one place might be agile
teams. Many are crying out for good UX folk who are willing to talk
development (or vice versa).

Like David said. Don't focus on the job title. There isn't one. Focus
on the role and the skill set - and what you can bring to it.

Look for T-shape people positions with "fat" bottoms to those T's.
Then be prepared to push.

Cheers,

Adrian
--
delicious.com/adrianh - twitter.com/adrianh - adrianh at quietstars.com

19 May 2009 - 3:26am
Craig Melbourne
2009

"So, I'd say, don't look for a position as a dual designer/coder.
Look for a position as a designer or as a programer but just *BE* the
designer/programmer that you are! "

As someone in similar shoes to yourself I completely agree with Dave
here. Although advertised positions requiring both are rare that's
not always the case once you're inside. I often go into contracts as
either a IX/UX designer OR a UI developer and, because of my
background, find myself getting involved in the other. I usually take
these roles because I see an opportunity to get involved in both when
doing a bit of background research on the company. These days I tend
to sell myself as a IX/UX designer (major) with a solid UI dev
(minor) skill set as thats how I want the balance to be.

And yes, it is possible to be great at both.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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19 May 2009 - 4:50am
Lennon Louis S. Seno
2009

I agree that anyone can be great at two or more things. That is why there are great leaders because they see the bigger picture by not being ignorant in many things.

19 May 2009 - 5:05am
milan
2005

Being a UX Designer with frontend dev skills is indeed very useful for
certain aspects of design work:

* you can try out things in your target frontend technology (check out
feasibility and possibilities, play with it, stretch it to its limits),
and if you have the appropriate authority you can choose the best one for
what you are trying to achieve.
* you can build prototypes that really have high fidelity because they are
done in the same environment like the final product will be.
* you are able to keep control of your design even during implementation
or agile-iterative building phases, because you not only understand what
the devs are doing, but you are able to contribute the essential parts
yourself (like templates). There are less communication issues.

Just as graphic designers who know how to code can do amazing things with
code (keyword generative design), UX Designers who are very much closer to
the technical side of things should imho strive to at least be able to do
rudimentary things.

In small teams, the overall frontend guy who does everything related to UX
is not so uncommon, and this is not going to change. The same is true for
developers - you do not always have specialists for frontend, backend,
database, security etc.

milan

--
||| | | |||| || |||||||| | || | ||
milan guenther * interaction design
p +49 173 2856689 * www.guenther.cx

19 May 2009 - 5:52am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 19 May 2009, at 01:26, Craig Melbourne wrote:
[snip]
> As someone in similar shoes to yourself I completely agree with Dave
> here. Although advertised positions requiring both are rare that's
> not always the case once you're inside. I often go into contracts as
> either a IX/UX designer OR a UI developer and, because of my
> background, find myself getting involved in the other. I usually take
> these roles because I see an opportunity to get involved in both when
> doing a bit of background research on the company. These days I tend
> to sell myself as a IX/UX designer (major) with a solid UI dev
> (minor) skill set as thats how I want the balance to be.
[snip]

That's been my experience too (although I tend to sell my developer
skills first myself).

Adrian

--
delicious.com/adrianh - twitter.com/adrianh - adrianh at quietstars.com

19 May 2009 - 7:40am
djlittle
2009

I'm finding this discussion very interesting as a developer looking to
move more in a UI design direction.

I posted to IxDA a month or two ago asking how easy people thought it
was to transition between roles. Many (tho' not all) of the answers
were positive, and mentioned as others have here, that smaller, agile
teams / start-ups were probably the best environment to do a range of
things. Of course, it doesn't make finding those kind of jobs any
easier :). I've been quite lucky in that I've started taking on more
usability / UI design work in my current job which my boss has
supported.

PS, I summarised the findings from that IxDA discussion and some other
sources here if anyone's interested: http://tr.im/lKZa.

Cheers,
David

2009/5/19 Adrian Howard <adrianh at quietstars.com>:
>
> On 19 May 2009, at 01:26, Craig Melbourne wrote:
> [snip]
>>
>> As someone in similar shoes to yourself I completely agree with Dave
>> here. Although advertised positions requiring both are rare that's
>> not always the case once you're inside. I often go into contracts as
>> either a IX/UX designer OR a UI developer and, because of my
>> background, find myself getting involved in the other. I usually take
>> these roles because I see an opportunity to get involved in both when
>> doing a bit of background research on the company. These days I tend
>> to sell myself as a IX/UX designer (major) with a solid UI dev
>> (minor) skill set as thats how I want the balance to be.
>
> [snip]
>
> That's been my experience too (although I tend to sell my developer skills
> first myself).
>
> Adrian
>
> --
> delicious.com/adrianh - twitter.com/adrianh - adrianh at quietstars.com
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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David Little
w: www.littled.net
t: twitter.com/djlittle

20 May 2009 - 5:58am
Anonymous

A few words about my experience of being a UX designer and a front
end developer ( I did it recently in a startup for several years)

I understand Robert's answer as it is difficult to *excel* because you don't
have time to. You do both jobs but you don't have double time to do it... It
is my personal experience. It is very time consuming to do your job very
well, keep up with the state of art when you work in two different fields.

On many projects, in real life, there is often not a lot of budget and
people cannot afford excellence...So you do your two jobs as best as you
can, and from my experience people are eventually very happy (because the
user experience has been designed...)

Currently, I'm working on a project where I'm not doing the coding, I'm
focusing only on UX, and my design are better only because I have time to
do more research, iterations, testing...

Pierre

PS: as previously said, it is very very useful to have both skills (for
communications with developer, understanding constraints, building
prototypes,...)

21 May 2009 - 12:52am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On May 17, 2009, at 10:05 PM, Joshua Muskovitz wrote:

> So who am I? And how do I find opportunities which actually make
> sense?

Let me give you a serious answer (versus the snarky one from a few
days ago).

Let's assume you are as good as you say you are in both IxD and
implementation. That's a killer combination.

Any manager who hires you gets two major skills for the price of one.
And, if you are hired primarily to fill a design hole, your skills in
talking to the other developers will be invaluable. And, if they want
you to focus on implementation, your skills to appreciate and
understand design are going to pay off big.

I think this is really the way of the future. The best teams are not
focusing so much on roles as they are on skills. The more skills
available across the team the better.

A team made up of an army of designer slash implementors would knock
of more projects faster, getting higher quality results into production.

My recommendation: Don't worry too much on what you call yourself.
Seek out projects that intrigue you. Find managers who can appreciate
broad skills and aren't fixated on roles. And find a team where you
can learn while your working.

(Ok, one snarky answer: http://www.designerslashmodel.com/ )

Hope that helps,

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: @jmspool
UIE Roadshow: Seattle, Denver, DC in June: http://is.gd/gxwe

21 May 2009 - 11:31am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> I've found no evidence to suggest that someone talented couldn't be great
> at both, if they put the effort into it.
>

With many other combinations, I'd say sure, it's possible. If it was UX and
something other than programming, I'd say, sure, it's possible. Programming,
however — and you need some programming chops to be of any great worth even
as a front-end implementer (unless you're purely talking CSS/XHTML) — is
something you have to do constantly to stay up on and to stay good at.

The second you start dividing your time, your coding skills suffer. Stop
programming for a few weeks and you get rusty fast. Stop for a few months,
and you might as well be learning a language from scratch. Every developer
I've personally talked to about this has agreed. You may always be able to
think programmatically, but actually writing the code, let alone doing it
well? It's like a second language you never really master and can forget on
a dime.

-r-

21 May 2009 - 11:49am
jet
2008

dave malouf wrote:

> So, I'd say, don't look for a position as a dual designer/coder.
> Look for a position as a designer or as a programer but just BE the
> designer/programmer that you are!

As a writer/coder, I completely agree. My first degree is in Journalism
and Computer Science, and I've had no problem getting jobs that use both
sets of skills. I usually describe myself as "an engineer that can
write and design documents" or "a writer who can develop software and
hardware", depending on the job I'm applying for.

This is also how I'm formulating my post-graduation job search. Instead
of looking for jobs that match my wacky set of skills, I'm looking for
things that are interesting to me. I took a leave of absence to get my
MS in Design, and if my employer doesn't have things for me to do with
my new-and-improved skill set I'll start hitting the pavement.

--
J. Eric "jet" Townsend -- designer, fabricator, hacker

design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

21 May 2009 - 12:08pm
ambroselittle
2008

On Thu, May 21, 2009 at 12:31 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:

> >
> > I've found no evidence to suggest that someone talented couldn't be great
> > at both, if they put the effort into it.
> >
>
> The second you start dividing your time, your coding skills suffer.

As someone with such a background, I can say this is true.

> Stop programming for a few weeks and you get rusty fast.

This might be a tad extreme..

> Stop for a few months, and you might as well be learning a language from
> scratch. Every developer I've personally talked to about this has agreed.

Sorry, this ain't so. Now you have an (ex-)developer telling you something
different. The language is relatively static and hard to forget. The real
trouble is in new frameworks--keeping up with those is the hassle, but even
so, I can jump right back into the frameworks I've used a lot no problem.

> You may always be able to
> think programmatically, but actually writing the code, let alone doing it
> well? It's like a second language you never really master and can forget on
> a dime.
>

This is crazy talk. I wager it'd take me many years to really get so rusty
I couldn't be productive in a short amount of time, with either a
framework/language I was good at or even a new one, really. Devs have to
learn new languages/frameworks all the time. It's part of the job
description. And you can't just go about forgetting them willy nilly.

-ambrose

21 May 2009 - 3:16pm
Yolanda
2009

My team would like to invest in a "screen reader" to do some
accessibility testing. Does anyone have recommendations? Any comments
on JAWS?

Any information would be helpful.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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22 May 2009 - 6:57am
Michael Kay
2009

I've been straddling a few of those fences for quite a while, and
still not sure what my title should be. Plus my roll shifts from
project to project, and client to client. Back in the 90's when I
worked at Hotwired everyone invented their own titles because we knew
they were trivial compared the the work that we were doing. Actual
roles within an organization are defined more clearly by how you
integrate with your colleagues. For me the title is not paramount, but
only a convenience at the point of hiring.

For me, the complete point of Interaction Design, User Experience,
Information Architecture, etc, is to be multi-disciplinary. And in the
web industry you will survive a lot longer if you don't over-
specialize. Critical thinking, problem solving skills, and
collaborating well with others to me are the most important skills
that endure. The medium is still evolving rapidly, and today's hot
specialist today can easily be tomorrow's unemployment recipient.

In my experience if you are looking for a role that crosses
disciplines, generally you will have better luck in smaller
organizations (or newer entrepreneurial ones) which are less
bureaucratic, and by nature can't afford to put everyone into pigeon-
hole.

. . . michael kay
. . . buenos aires / http://www.peep.org

On 19/05/2009, at 01:26, Craig Melbourne wrote:

> "So, I'd say, don't look for a position as a dual designer/coder.
> Look for a position as a designer or as a programer but just *BE* the
> designer/programmer that you are! "
>
> As someone in similar shoes to yourself I completely agree with Dave
> here. Although advertised positions requiring both are rare that's
> not always the case once you're inside. I often go into contracts as
> either a IX/UX designer OR a UI developer and, because of my
> background, find myself getting involved in the other. I usually take
> these roles because I see an opportunity to get involved in both when
> doing a bit of background research on the company. These days I tend
> to sell myself as a IX/UX designer (major) with a solid UI dev
> (minor) skill set as thats how I want the balance to be.
>
> And yes, it is possible to be great at both.
>

22 May 2009 - 10:24am
jet
2008

Robert Hoekman Jr wrote:
> The second you start dividing your time, your coding skills suffer. Stop
> programming for a few weeks and you get rusty fast. Stop for a few months,
> and you might as well be learning a language from scratch.

That hasn't been my experience in two decades of writing code. I went
~18mo touching a keyboard for only an hour a day and didn't lose any
of my chops. (I wasn't able to keep up with changes to APIs, but I
caught up pretty quickly.) I've also worked with people who have
restarted languages they "put down" months or years earlier and they
didn't seem to have much of a problem.

Once you've learned to think computationally/programatically, it's hard
to unlearn. It's like saying if you stop designing you forget how to
be a designer.

--
J. Eric "jet" Townsend -- designer, fabricator, hacker

design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

22 May 2009 - 10:29am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On May 22, 2009, at 8:24 AM, j. eric townsend wrote:

> Once you've learned to think computationally/programatically, it's
> hard to unlearn.

Nobody forgets how to fall off a bicycle.

:)

Jared

22 May 2009 - 11:00am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Once you've learned to think computationally/programatically, it's hard to
> unlearn. It's like saying if you stop designing you forget how to be a
> designer.
>

That's just what I said. You don't forget how to think programmatically. But
many people do forget the exact syntax, the exact method calls, etc, of the
programming languages they used to have mastered.

Look, I didn't make this up. I experienced it myself, and have talked about
it with many other people — they've all agreed. If this wasn't the case for
you folks that are objecting, well, then great — lucky you. But that doesn't
mean you represent a trend. Fact is, most developers aren't great
developers. Most designers aren't great designers. It's extremely rare to
find someone who is indeed great at both.

-r-

22 May 2009 - 11:15am
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

> Fact is, most developers aren't great developers. Most designers
aren't great designers.

While I actually agree with this sentiment, it makes it somewhat
difficult to respond to. I am a great developer and if not a great
designer, well then I'm probably just one step down from that. But
it's really freakin' hard to say that without sounding like a jerk.
It has taken twenty years of people whose opinion *I* respect telling
me so for me to believe it.

Here's the paradox. When the bulk of the universe has a knee jerk
response of "you couldn't possibly be really good at what you do,
since the vast majority of people suck at it", how is it even
possible to find those rare opportunities where it actually matters?
It is too depressing to contemplate the notion that it is all blind
luck and quantum mechanics.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42068

22 May 2009 - 12:18pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On May 22, 2009, at 9:15 AM, Joshua Muskovitz wrote:

>> Fact is, most developers aren't great developers. Most designers
> aren't great designers.
>
> While I actually agree with this sentiment, it makes it somewhat
> difficult to respond to. I am a great developer and if not a great
> designer, well then I'm probably just one step down from that. But
> it's really freakin' hard to say that without sounding like a jerk.
> It has taken twenty years of people whose opinion *I* respect telling
> me so for me to believe it.
>
> Here's the paradox. When the bulk of the universe has a knee jerk
> response of "you couldn't possibly be really good at what you do,
> since the vast majority of people suck at it", how is it even
> possible to find those rare opportunities where it actually matters?
> It is too depressing to contemplate the notion that it is all blind
> luck and quantum mechanics.

Joshua,

Don't mind Robert. He just loves to crush the soul of people who are
likely to be more talented than him. :)

(Luv U Robert! You know that, right?)

Jared

22 May 2009 - 12:42pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On May 22, 2009, at 1:18 PM, Jared Spool wrote:
> Don't mind Robert. He just loves to crush the soul of people who are
> likely to be more talented than him. :)
>
> (Luv U Robert! You know that, right?)

Sound's like Joshua's question could be the topic of your next
podcast. Hmmm?

Best,
Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Senior Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

If I'd have asked my customers what they wanted,
they would have told me "A faster horse."
- Henry Ford

22 May 2009 - 1:01pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Don't mind Robert. He just loves to crush the soul of people who are likely
> to be more talented than him. :)
>

Ha! Wow—I actually laughed out loud at that one.

-r-

22 May 2009 - 1:02pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Sound's like Joshua's question could be the topic of your next podcast.
> Hmmm?
>

I'm game if Jared and Joshua are. The only difficulty may be keeping the
podcast under 7 hours. :)

-r-

22 May 2009 - 1:29pm
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

I'm game. :-)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42068

22 May 2009 - 3:27pm
Eugene Kim
2005

Hey, just wanted to put in my 2 cents...

A person who can straddle the fence equally is the exception. We're
talking about expert knowledge in both, right? To expect this as the
norm seems unreasonable.

Personally, I think I've done a pretty good job at keeping up with
my front-end coding and visual design skills to stay serviceable, but
to expect that products can be built around my code? No way. And to
think my design will be highly compelling to draw users in? I dream,
but I know my limitations. My company doesn't depend on me for those
things.

Right now I'm great at thinking about the interactions and creating
the flows, wires, and specs to support them. That doesn't mean I
can't do the others, just that this is my primary role and skill.

In the end, something will suffer and that's not just limited to
your professional skills. Everything requires time and there's only
so much of it. Seems pretty obvious to me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42068

22 May 2009 - 3:44pm
Angel Marquez
2008

I s*ck at everything; but, I like to enjoy myself as much as possible.
The differentiating factor is the difference between earned power and
granted. I would never deem myself great at anything; but, in hindsight I
blow doors off of the majority of people that I've had the pleasure of
working with that claim "greatness" in one field. This observation
guarantees ME that the metrics are out of balance, like a mismanaged check
book. I have noticed in my field research the ones that think they are just
so, so are usually the most talented and need to be protected because they
are an endangered species.

I get it, I got it, I gave it, and I'm still giving it...

On Fri, May 22, 2009 at 6:27 AM, Eugene Kim <v6 at mindspring.com> wrote:

> Hey, just wanted to put in my 2 cents...
>
> A person who can straddle the fence equally is the exception. We're
> talking about expert knowledge in both, right? To expect this as the
> norm seems unreasonable.
>
> Personally, I think I've done a pretty good job at keeping up with
> my front-end coding and visual design skills to stay serviceable, but
> to expect that products can be built around my code? No way. And to
> think my design will be highly compelling to draw users in? I dream,
> but I know my limitations. My company doesn't depend on me for those
> things.
>
> Right now I'm great at thinking about the interactions and creating
> the flows, wires, and specs to support them. That doesn't mean I
> can't do the others, just that this is my primary role and skill.
>
> In the end, something will suffer and that's not just limited to
> your professional skills. Everything requires time and there's only
> so much of it. Seems pretty obvious to me.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42068
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

22 May 2009 - 4:04pm
Angel Marquez
2008

12.3. The different kinds of power

There are two models of power that I'll use in this book. The advanced form
will come later, in Chapter
16<http://my.safaribooksonline.com/0596007868/artprojectmgmt-CHP-16#artprojectmgmt-CHP-16>.
For now, I'll stick to the simple, but potent, form of functional power.

Functional power comes in two flavors: granted and earned. Granted power
comes through hierarchy or job titles (sometimes called ex officio or "of
office" power). For example, the coach of a basketball team has the power to
decide which players will be in the game and which ones stay on the bench.
Or the boss of a small sales office might have the power to hire and fire
anyone he chooses. But this power doesn't have anything to do with how much
respect people have for the person wielding it, or even how much skill and
knowledge people feel the manager has. In contrast, earned power is
something that has to be cultivated through performance and action. Earned
power, or earned authority, is when people choose to listen, not because of
someone's granted authority, but because they think he is smart or helpful.
12.3.1. Do not rely on granted power

"I distrust all systemizers and avoid them: the will to a system is a lack
of integrity."

Nietzsche

The use of granted power as a primary force in leadership limits
relationships. It excludes the possibility of exchanging ideas, and it
places the focus on the use of force, rather than smarts. While there are
situations when use of autocratic power is required, good leaders keep that
sword in its scabbard as much as possible. As soon as you draw it, no one is
listening to you anymore—they're listening to the sword. Worse, everyone
around you will draw their own swords to respond to yours. Instead of
explaining to you why you are wrong, they will use their own granted power
to challenge your power. This results in a competition of forces that has
nothing to do with intelligence or a search for the best solution. Granted
power (like the "dark side of the force") is temping because it's easier:
you don't have to work as hard to get what you want.

I once faced a situation that put me at the crossroads of granted and earned
power. It was during Internet Explorer 2.0, when I had my first major
program management assignment. The first day I was introduced to the two
programmers who I'd be working with, Bill and Jay. Jay was friendly, but
Bill was quiet and intimidating. He was also very senior in the organization
(a level 13 in the Microsoft jargon of the time, which meant he was about as
senior as a programmer could be). I remember sitting in his office, looking
at him across his desk. I'd been talking for 10 minutes and he'd said next
to nothing. He just leaned back in his chair and stared at me.

22 May 2009 - 4:41pm
Eugene Kim
2005

Just wanted to clarify that when I say "great", I'm not trying to
use it as a term of superiority here. I'm saying it's something I
excel in, like, "Hey, I'm great at that!" :)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42068

22 May 2009 - 5:36pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On May 18, 2009, at 5:50 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr wrote:

> Someone who is unlikely to be great at either, even if he was
> previously
> great at one or the other.
>
> I mean no offense by that — there's just far too much to know in
> either
> niche to divide your time and still excel. It's hard enough doing
> *one* of
> those things well. Sure, there are people who can do both, but
> they're rare,
> and you there's not really any way to prove to yourself that you're
> one of
> them without a bunch of other people telling you that you are.

On May 22, 2009, at 9:00 AM, Robert Hoekman Jr wrote:

> Look, I didn't make this up. I experienced it myself, and have
> talked about
> it with many other people — they've all agreed. If this wasn't the
> case for
> you folks that are objecting, well, then great — lucky you. But that
> doesn't
> mean you represent a trend. Fact is, most developers aren't great
> developers. Most designers aren't great designers. It's extremely
> rare to
> find someone who is indeed great at both.

The main problem with these comments is that if you want to believe
it, then by all means, go ahead and do so. But when you state it in
the manner you did on the list, it shuts down possibilities for making
progress in the field. Worse, when you state it as you did on a list
that aims to help professionals with a new emerging career, I find it
irresponsible because the future is going to see a lot of progress
where people will have to start preparing for right now.

Whether someone becomes good or great at being a designer in the high-
tech field while also having advanced coding and development skills is
not the point. Whether it is hard to do is also not the point.

The point is: they have to try. If they are told they don't need them
or its not possible, then they won't try. If they don't try, they
won't grow.

And in this field, given the rapid rate of change, and now the rapid
rate of technology flattening to make interface development for
software, mobile and RIAs far more accessible for anyone with decent
scripting skills, let along coding skills, not trying is a career
death sentence as all the young designers coming out of school are
going to eat your lunch in the foreseeable future since many of them
have the desire, the drive and the energy to learn all this new cool
front-end coding stuff while still being designers who know a thing or
two about form, function, aesthetic, type, color, layout, take your
pick.

Folks on this list need to stop reacting poorly to things like
interaction designers need to know to draw or need to learn how to
code. All you'll wind up doing is giving someone else the opening they
need to put you out of a job.

For those of you that already know to write clean, standards compliant
markup, dive into jQuery (http://jquery.com/), learn a little JSON (http://www.json.org/
) and go download Titanium from Appcelerator (http://
appcelerator.org/). Seriously, the amount you can now create with HTML
+CSS+JS+Titanium (or MXML+FlashCSS+AS+Air if you must) for front-end
coding and prototyping is awesome.

It actually makes the job a thousand times more fun and rewarding if
you really must know.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

22 May 2009 - 9:57pm
ambroselittle
2008

On Fri, May 22, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:

> Look, I didn't make this up. I experienced it myself, and have talked about
> it with many other people — they've all agreed. If this wasn't the case for
> you folks that are objecting, well, then great — lucky you. But that
> doesn't
> mean you represent a trend.

Evening, Robert.

Okay, I realize this contention is tangential to the main point here, but
you made some pretty strong statements that I think misrepresent the nature
of coding and developers. You say that I am "lucky" and that I'm not
representing a trend; I'll have to beg to differ. In this respect I'm not
lucky nor exceptional but pretty par for the course. To illustrate, I threw
together a quick poll and circulated it to my dev connections.

Here's what the results look like:

1. How much do you agree with the following? answered question*69*
skipped question*0*
Yeah, Totally!SortaNot ReallyNo Way!Rating
AverageResponse
CountThe second you start dividing your time [between coding and something
else], your coding skills suffer.26.1% (18)29.0% (20)26.1% (18)18.8% (13)
2.3869If I stop coding for a few months, I might as well be learning a new
language from scratch.4.3% (3)21.7% (15)36.2% (25)37.7% (26)3.0769Coding is
like a second language you never really master and can forget on a dime.2.9%
(2)23.2% (16)27.5% (19)46.4% (32)3.1769
You'll note I pretty much asked verbatim from what you said. I answered
this poll, and interestingly, my answers are also the top answers of the
other 68 folks. Right at 3/4 disagree with both the latter statements.
Frankly, I was surprised it wasn't higher, but hey, some folks did agree.
I guess they're out there. :) BTW, I watched today as the # of responses
increased, and the percentages stayed more or less the same.

So you see, I'm not starting a trend or anything; I am (was) just a normal
dev in this respect.

Now, to the main point, I think you can acquire the skills to be both a
great dev and a great designer; however, I agree that you can also become
rusty in either through disuse. But that doesn't make you not great
(certainly doesn't mean you start from scratch)--you'll just need to freshen
up a bit.

Are most people dynamic duos? I guess not, but as Andrei says, that
shouldn't keep folks from trying.

-ambrose

P.S. Here are the comments (I just had an open box for any further
thoughts/clarifications); you may find them interesting:

1. Coding is like any other learned skill, it can be rough when you take a
break and get back to it. But you quickly remember things and fall back into
the groove. Taking a break from coding is a good thing, it helps you get
perspetive. Fri, 5/22/09 9:40 PM

2. Coding like a natural language is a skill. If one is not doing it, the
level communication drops. Just like natural languages, distractions, low
blood sugar, or less than ideal physical focus can impact our mode and
communication skills. :) Fri, 5/22/09 8:05 PM

3. It all depends on your skill level. Fri, 5/22/09 5:32 PM

4. The qualifier for these responses is the experience level of the person
before. For someone with less experience, their ability to retain the skill
would be more difficult. For someone who codes day-in-day-out for years and
years, that will stick with them more easily. Fri, 5/22/09 5:08 PM

5. I do forget sooner now that I am getting older. Fri, 5/22/09 5:07 PM

6. riding a bike... Fri, 5/22/09 4:09 PM

7. Focusing on multiple things takes mind share and time from the other
things, but 'the second you start' isn't true at all. In fact, the broader
your knowledge, the stronger you become, as long as you're giving the proper
priority to coding. Fri, 5/22/09 4:02 PM

8. the ability to organize your approach, and the knowledge of the
library/framework you're using are both harder to learn and harder to
forget. picky syntax may elude you when you get back to it, but the compiler
will find those for you and you'll be right back to it in no time. Fri,
5/22/09 3:52 PM

9. Are you a non .NET programmer? The .Net world, in existend for a decade,
has evolved to minimize this familiarization loss you mention when learning
new technologies BY a couple of ways. 1. living Community that can help fast
track your knowledge in areas that you were once familiar in. 2. Great
support network for questions you have. 3. Built in learning and support
tools into the tooling of itself. 4. Great frameworks to help you build out
code in a repeatable and memorable way. 5. All tools were designed with ease
of use in mind (and evolve also in that way). If you are a .NET
developer/designer and you don't agree with this statement then you probably
need to invest more time into learning the ecosystem more and familarizing
yourself with all the social aspects of it because once you "GET" all the
several points mentioned above, then you'll have no problem "forgetting to
code!" Fri, 5/22/09 3:46 PM

10. This relaly depends on the technolgy. For Example it usually takes me
about 1 week to get comfortable again with doring SQL if l I have not used
for more than 6 months. Fri, 5/22/09 3:43 PM

11. My coding time has been greatly reduced since entering into a
management position. All though I don't think I am as sharp as when I coded
every day, I do jump back into it whenever I need to. It is similar to the
bike riding skill. You learn it and somehow, you can jump back on and it all
comes back to you. Fri, 5/22/09 3:29 PM

12. 1. I am not sure your raw ability to solve problems via code suffers,
but certainly your ability to keep pace with the tools that are available
for solving problems suffers. 2&3. Months might be too short of a period of
time and on a dime probably not accurate, but I do think that if you stop
coding for a long period of time, you may need a language refresher, just as
you would if you stopped speaking a learned language for an extensive period
of time. Computer languages *are* much like spoken/written languages. In
fact linguistics can play a significant role in the development of a
computer language, and I have found that those who are naturally adept at
learning new spoken languages, often are adept at learning new computer
languages. Its like riding a bike, you might be a bit wobbly at first, but
your ability to ride still exists and the time to become fully competent
again is *much* less than leaning it the first time. Fri, 5/22/09 2:58 PM

13. more like 4 questions. For number 1-... well, there really is no way to
identify which question I want to clarify, so it's the one that starts with
'The second'. If you mean dividing my time as in 'stopping coding to take
this survey', then my answer is reflective of my opinion. :-) Fri, 5/22/09
2:58 PM

14. For skilled programmers, coding is a second nature. You don't forget
how to code. Fri, 5/22/09 2:40 PM

15. I think the first question is somewhat loaded. If you're dividing your
time between any two activities, you'll never be as good as if you devoted
all your time to one or the other. Fri, 5/22/09 2:40 PM

16. I used to program in VB. Then didn't do it for literally years. Picked
it right back up with minimal effort. I divide my time between coding,
design, management, authoring, speaking, raising a family, etc. The only
thing suffering is my sleep schedule ;) Fri, 5/22/09 2:38 PM

17. These questions seem to be missing some context, so I had trouble with
the answers. Fri, 5/22/09 2:36 PM

18. coding changes at a very fast pace. Keeping up with the
additions/changes is a part time job *IF* you are coding full-time. It is a
full time job if you are coding part time. Fri, 5/22/09 2:30 PM

19. Regarding the third question: Coding is like a second language that is
continuously growing and changing. You can master it at a single point in
time but you need to keep up with it regularly otherwise you will quickly
fall out of practice. Fri, 5/22/09 2:28 PM

20. To me coding is like riding a bike! Fri, 5/22/09 2:26 PM

21. You don't forget a language after a few months if you stop coding...but
you may get left behind if you don't stay current! Fri, 5/22/09 2:22 PM

22 May 2009 - 10:22pm
ambroselittle
2008

On Mon, May 18, 2009 at 1:05 AM, Joshua Muskovitz <joshm at taconic.net> wrote:

> What do you call someone who sits squarely on the fence between interaction
> design and implementation?
>

By the way, Microsoft suggests (
http://windowsclient.net/wpf/white-papers/thenewiteration.aspx) that this
kind of role is called "Integrator." I've also seen the terms "devigner"
and "dezeloper" thrown around, but they're pretty corny sounding, IMO.

I think the "integrator" role is actually pretty specific to XAML-based
projects (as they frame it), so it's not quite accurate for someone who
can/wants to work as a dynamic duo on other kinds of projects, and it also
appears to be more technical "with design sensibility" rather than a full on
skillset in both interaction design and development.

In any case, I think the suggestion (by Mr. Spool, I think--hope I'm not
putting words in his mouth!) to look at the required/desired skills rather
than titles so much. Also, I think you may have to pick one or the other
that appeals to you more (if that's the case) or that you have more visible
experience in and take that on as a primary role while leveraging your
skills in a secondary until they get to know you, at which point, if it is a
good org you want to stay with, you may be able to fluidly move around as
needed.

HTH.

-a

23 May 2009 - 1:26am
jasonrobb
2009

Hey Joshua,

Call yourself a UX designer and implementer. That sounds about right
to me. It's a bit long maybe, but I've never heard it called that
before. I could actually get used to it. I'm an Experience Designer
and Implementer. Yeah, I can swing that. I'll let you know how it
goes.

Thanks,

Jason Robb
http://twitter.com/jasonrobb
http://uxboston.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42068

23 May 2009 - 9:40am
Christian Crumlish
2006

On Fri, May 22, 2009 at 8:22 PM, J. Ambrose Little
<ambrose at aspalliance.com>wrote:

> On Mon, May 18, 2009 at 1:05 AM, Joshua Muskovitz <joshm at taconic.net>
> wrote:
>
> > What do you call someone who sits squarely on the fence between
> interaction
> > design and implementation?
> >
>

sounds a bit like the prototyper role at Yahoo! (skillset similar to that of
a front-end "production" engineer but embedded in the design team and
participating in user experience design teamwork.

-x-

23 May 2009 - 11:52am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Okay, I realize this contention is tangential to the main point here, but
> you made some pretty strong statements that I think misrepresent the nature
> of coding and developers. You say that I am "lucky" and that I'm not
> representing a trend; I'll have to beg to differ. In this respect I'm not
> lucky nor exceptional but pretty par for the course. To illustrate, I threw
> together a quick poll and circulated it to my dev connections.
>

Fascinating stuff. Still, I've had 20 or 30 conversations in my personal
life that unanimously went the other way, with practically every last person
wholeheartedly agreeing that coding is a tough skill to keep up on, not
practicing it for a while (even a short while) can be seriously detrimental,
and that it's remarkably rare for someone to be great (key word: great) at
both design and development — so rare, in fact, that when someone actually
knows a person like that, they excitedly refer to that person as "amazing"
and feel significantly humbled by contrast.

Must just be a coincidence.

-r-

23 May 2009 - 11:59am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On May 23, 2009, at 9:52 AM, Robert Hoekman Jr wrote:

> Fascinating stuff. Still, I've had 20 or 30 conversations in my
> personal
> life that unanimously went the other way, with practically every
> last person
> wholeheartedly agreeing that coding is a tough skill to keep up on,
> not
> practicing it for a while (even a short while) can be seriously
> detrimental,
> and that it's remarkably rare for someone to be great (key word:
> great) at
> both design and development — so rare, in fact, that when someone
> actually
> knows a person like that, they excitedly refer to that person as
> "amazing"
> and feel significantly humbled by contrast.

I'm still thinking you're not hanging around with the right coders.

I've had opportunities in my life to work with some amazing folks --
people who could regularly do what others strongly believed to be
downright impossible.

In a few cases, they found the work too intense, so the took a multi-
year sabbatical away from technology (starting a farm, sailing around
the world, starting a pizza place). Some of them returned to tech
after being away for 5+ years. After a little hiatus, they were back
to their amazing stuff, with all new technology.

Most of programming isn't the APIs or syntax. It's the skill of seeing
a problem and knowing how to massage the machine into doing your
bidding. Frankly, it's not that far from design.

So, I think you can go away from something and come back to it just as
strong, if you have the skills and talent to do so.

But that's not what Joshua was suggesting. He was suggesting that he
could design and implement simultaneously, which I also believe is
possible. Taking a design from concept through code is a great set of
skills that I'm betting many a manager would pay handsomely for right
now. You get increased skills without increased headcount -- a great
value.

Jared

23 May 2009 - 12:54pm
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

> Taking a design from concept through code is a great set of skills
that I'm betting many a manager would pay handsomely for right now.
You get increased skills without increased headcount %u2014 a great
value.

And yet I remain unable to find these managers! Where are they?!?!?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42068

24 May 2009 - 1:53pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On May 23, 2009, at 10:54 AM, Joshua Muskovitz wrote:

>> Taking a design from concept through code is a great set of skills
> that I'm betting many a manager would pay handsomely for right now.
> You get increased skills without increased headcount %u2014 a great
> value.
>
> And yet I remain unable to find these managers! Where are they?!?!?

I think that you'll be best off looking for a manager seeking a top-
notch designer or a manager seeking a top-notch implementor. It's
unlikely they'll be seeking both, since they probably are of the
school that it would be unlikely to find someone who has talents in
both.

Then, once you've found the position in either area, I think you need
to do 2 things:

1) Make sure you prove that you're an excellent designer/implementor
-- whichever they are seeking. That's what they'll be looking for, so
to get their attention, your resume, cover letter, and portfolio
better talk to that directly. This implies have a separate resume and
portfolio, depending on the position you're going after.

2) Once you've shown them your expertise and gotten their attention on
their immediate needs, then you can open them up to the idea that you
can do more than what they are seeking. Not every manager will go for
it, but smart ones will. So, you need a way to open up your experience
to them in stages.

Hope that helps,

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: @jmspool
UIE Roadshow: Seattle, Denver, DC in June: http://is.gd/gxwe

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