What should IxDA be when it grows up?

27 Dec 2010 - 10:35am
3 years ago
10 replies
1969 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

I posted the below on Quora (since many feel it is a better system; I suggest you take a look): http://qr.ae/GROK

Recently, there have been conversations about the state of IxDA (ixda.org). It's openness and approachability have been a hallmark for other organizations to look at, while its loose structure, lack of financial growth, and recent questionable technology decisions have caused many of its strongest founders and supports to question the very value of the community. 

It has been recently suggested that the main problem is due to membership "apathy" and that, until this is remedied, there is not room for some higher level thinker/leaders to contribute. In one tweet, 
Jared Spool said that IxDA needs to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up. So I'm taking that to heart and asking you all here (I'll also ask point a link to this on the IxDA list so people can see why many on IxDA laud Quora over IxDA's platform.) 

So? What do you think?

Comments

27 Dec 2010 - 11:39am
mtumi
2004

I'm hardly a regular poster to be very qualified to give my input, but I have been following from the outset so perhaps that counts for something

IMO the whole "platform" thing has become a big distraction for the organization. It's easy to see how we should expect ourselves as a group to be able to build a great online platform, but it's really no reflection on the skillset of the group members if we choose to take something out of the box that isnt all that groundbreaking. The ACM hardly has the most sophisticated online presence. Similarly collge alumni groups have a very large and broadly talented user base, and I would bet many of them rely on third parties for their community sites regardless

In general I think the membership just wants the basics like email to work well. Aren't there some third parties that run organizational sites (like alumni sites ) that we can just sign up for? I would think a very small membership fee could cover the cost of maintaining this.

from there the focus should be on tapping the community to build out resources that a diverse group of remotely located professionals can share. A pattern library might be something you could even charge for additional access to, like ACM does with their library of papers.

Michael

27 Dec 2010 - 6:05pm
Adrian Howard
2005

Since I still like the mailing list - have a reply here as well as on Quora :-)

Some random, not very well connected, thoughts:

Random thought the first: I think the IxDA would lose by moving to a non-open fee-based membership model like the UPA, ISDA, STC etc. For three reasons:

1) Many of the folk I know in those organisations seem to have similar issues. They often question whether they get value from the organisation. Several have have left - especially in these tougher economic times. I don't think the current problems, such as they are, would be solved by moving to a fee based membership model.

2) The fee structure will be a tricky balance if you want to keep the "I" of the IxDA. To pick the ISDA for the sake of an example - their USD$375 professional membership fee will be a very considerable amount in some of the countries where the IxDA has local chapters.

3) Finally the openness is - for me - the IxDA's USP. It's the only large group that's open to people at the edge of the UX field. I can point developers and graphic designers and business folk edging into UX work at the IxDA and say "go there - you'll learn stuff". Compared to organisations like the UPA that are essentially opaque to non-members I think that's a huge plus. I'd personally hate to lose that. I think it's a larger part of what makes the IxDA an interesting place than many folk think.

Random thought the second: If I look back to the events I've got the most value out of recently, both inside and outside the UX field, they're mostly smaller locally organised events. They've been ux book clubs, local meet-ups, barcamps, the uxcamps in London, hackathons, local workshops, etc. Not that larger conferences are bad. I learn lots at them, they're huge fun and fantastic for networking... but I'm getting a lot more bang for my buck at smaller events.

Random thought the third: Maybe we need to look outside of the UX/professional organisational field for examples and inspiration. For example look at what the community around the Perl programming language puts together. Over 150 conferences, workshops and hackathons organised all over the world since 1997 (http://www.yapceurope.org/events...). All without a professional body and paid memberships - but with an umbrella brand and some handy shared infrastructure.

Random thought the forth: The IxDA has always felt more of a community than an organisation to me... not quite sure what I mean now I've written that... but it resonates in some way. Maybe somebody less befuddled by Christmas booze can make some sense of it :-)

Random thought the fifth: Maybe I'm in a minority - but I like the mailing list. Maybe I'm an old fogy - but I quite like having all my e-mail in one place rather than having to visit N different web sites. I enjoy having somewhere that's a bit more conversational than Q&A. That said - I don't think that the IxDA is a mailing list. Or a web site.

Random thought the sixth: I'm not entirely sure that membership apathy is the problem. Maybe there need to be more examples of what enthusiastic members should do?. Maybe there needs to be more feedback to the membership on what is needed? If the IxDA is having problems finding folk to do stuff - where's the list of things that need doing?

Cheers,

Adrian

10 Jan 2011 - 9:10am
kojo
2008

Did the mailing list activities stop cuz of the IXDA future discussion or is there another reason for not getting anymore mails? regards, kojo

On Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 1:27 AM, Adrian Howard <adrianh@quietstars.com> wrote:

On 27 Dec 2010, at 18:06, Dave Malouf wrote:

> I posted the below on Quora (since many feel it is a better system; I suggest you take a look): http://qr.ae/GROK
>
>> Recently, there have been conversations about the state of IxDA (ixda.org [1]). It's openness and approachability have been a hallmark for other organizations to look at, while its loose structure, lack of financial growth, and recent questionable technology decisions have caused many of its strongest founders and supports to question the very value of the community.
>>
>> It has been recently suggested that the main problem is due to membership "apathy" and that, until this is remedied, there is not room for some higher level thinker/leaders to contribute. In one tweet, Jared Spool [2] said that IxDA needs to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up. So I'm taking that to heart and asking you all here (I'll also ask point a link to this on the IxDA list so people can see why many on IxDA laud Quora over IxDA's platform.)
>>
>> So? What do you think?
>

Since I still like the mailing list - have a reply here as well as on Quora :-)

Some random, not very well connected, thoughts:

Random thought the first: I think the IxDA would lose by moving to a non-open fee-based membership model like the UPA, ISDA, STC etc. For three reasons:

1) Many of the folk I know in those organisations seem to have similar issues. They often question whether they get value from the organisation. Several have have left - especially in these tougher economic times. I don't think the current problems, such as they are, would be solved by moving to a fee based membership model.

2) The fee structure will be a tricky balance if you want to keep the "I" of the IxDA. To pick the ISDA for the sake of an example - their USD$375 professional membership fee will be a /very/ considerable amount in some of the countries where the IxDA has local chapters.

3) Finally the openness is - for me - the IxDA's USP. It's the only large group that's open to people at the edge of the UX field. I can point developers and graphic designers and business folk edging into UX work at the IxDA and say "go there - you'll learn stuff". Compared to organisations like the UPA that are essentially opaque to non-members I think that's a huge plus. I'd personally hate to lose that. I think it's a larger part of what makes the IxDA an interesting place than many folk think.

Random thought the second: If I look back to the events I've got the most value out of recently, both inside and outside the UX field, they're mostly smaller locally organised events. They've been ux book clubs, local meet-ups, barcamps, the uxcamps in London, hackathons, local workshops, etc. Not that larger conferences are bad. I learn lots at them, they're huge fun and fantastic for networking... but I'm getting a lot more bang for my buck at smaller events.

Random thought the third: Maybe we need to look outside of the UX/professional organisational field for examples and inspiration. For example look at what the community around the Perl programming language puts together. Over 150 conferences, workshops and hackathons organised all over the world since 1997 (http://www.yapceurope.org/events...). All without a professional body and paid memberships - but with an umbrella brand and some handy shared infrastructure.

Random thought the forth: The IxDA has always felt more of a community than an organisation to me... not quite sure what I mean now I've written that... but it resonates in some way. Maybe somebody less befuddled by Christmas booze can make some sense of it :-)

Random thought the fifth: Maybe I'm in a minority - but I like the mailing list. Maybe I'm an old fogy - but I quite like having all my e-mail in one place rather than having to visit N different web sites. I enjoy having somewhere that's a bit more conversational than Q&A. That said - I don't think that the IxDA is a mailing list. Or a web site.

Random thought the sixth: I'm not entirely sure that membership apathy is the problem. Maybe there need to be more examples of what enthusiastic members should do?. Maybe there needs to be more feedback to the membership on what is needed? If the IxDA is having problems finding folk to do stuff - where's the list of things that need doing?

Cheers,

Adrian

>

12 Jan 2011 - 8:32am
Dave Malouf
2005

I don't get emails, but I get tweets & RSS and they are still coming through at the same pace as before I posted.

-- dave

28 Dec 2010 - 6:29pm
Greg Petroff
2004

Old founding member here. I am a fan of the un-org concept and was one of it's biggest proponents, but I am aware that it may need to change. 

When IxDA started it was intentionally called the Interaction Design Association and not the Interaction Designer's Association. It may seem like a nit but I believe this was part of its great growth. It was supposed to be inclusive, you did not need to call yourself an IXD to be a member. We purposely did not want to get into the title conversation or turf wars with IAI or other groups. And it was not about the conveyance of status. Later on we tried to communicate that the barrier to entry was a simple one..."I choose to share what I know". If you were willing to do that then you were a member of the community.

It was intended to be a place to promote the emerging discipline, share knowledge with peers, build community and then address practice related issues. Personally I think it has succeeded massively in doing this because the barrier for entry was so low. You want to start a local chapter..start one, you do not have to ask. But it also benefited from a place in time where many of us were working in social computing efforts, where twitter and facebook and quora were not mature or even there. We now have many other avenues to create community, ask questions and gain answers. Most of the early and more prolific folks are more commonly found on twitter then the mailing list or the new system for hosting forums etc.

From my perspective the org has to find new ways to add value.

It does add value now in 2 ways of the original 4 we thought were important. 

  • It does this successfully through the annual conferences, which are great and where the content is online after the conference for anyone to see. I still watch stuff from last year and 2 years ago with people in my team. (All the traffic about the exclusivity of the conference is nonsense).
  • It does this in local face to face meetings where people meet to support each other, develop friendships, learn new skills.

But it's value on the online side is diminishing and promoting the profession with business cases and tools to help people grow in all aspects of their careers remains unfinished business from the beginning of the org. 

The online community is broken, supplanted by other tools like twitter and quora. But that's ok and not entirely the org's fault. The online community needs to be re-imagined and understood that there will be other channels in the conversation and that ideally they could be aggregated somewhere. Lets grab the #ixda hashtags and link them. Places like Johnny Holland are capturing this value which we should partner with.

A bigger issue is finding a ways to engage people to volunteer their time and skills and deciding what's next?

There are many options out there. Here are a few that I can see...

  • Stay a loosely connected community of people who love interaction design and want to see it prosper. Support local groups meeting and the conferences, let the rest be managed by others..Stay loose...communicate this structure. If it's not your thing then opt out.
  • Become a clearing house for the business case for IxD? Leave the conference and community to others, focus on helping each other become more valuable to our clients, customers, companies...Good professional org's do this but you need a funding model to do this. The un-org model and volunteer-ism is not supporting this. At least right now
  • Realize that our moment came and went... join with other groups to support a broader design agenda.


One I do not like: Become a Professional Organization with certification and a work experience barrier to entry, becoming exclusive, bureaucratic etc.

With success comes new challenges. This is the right conversation. Relevance is always important. And the org. needs to find ways to test whether it is or is not.

best wishes in the new year - Greg

28 Dec 2010 - 10:10pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I really like Greg's thoughts, especially his ending. I'd like to add some of mine here. I did some expressing on Quora, but want to start synthesizing a little for the group here.

First some appreciations as we don't want to throw out the baby w/ the bath water:

Local Groups Rock: I have heard some murmuring issues about on-boarding new groups, but this requires tweaking to be handled and a bit more oversight. But all in all the # of groups and the amount of activity is tremendous, and worthy of a victory for the organization. 

Conference: I think the 3.5 yr journey of the international conference has exceeded everyone's expectations. There is more room here than just mere nit-picks to make which I'll discuss below, but overall this initiative has really put IxDA on the map and continues to do so w/ amazing curation of content and focused experience design. It also in 2008 was a huge catalyst for Local Groups being sprung up around the world.

Taking care of biznus: The board this past year was hit w/ big administrative issues (legal and financial) that HAD to take precedence over some of the other needs of the organization. This is the kind of stuff that no one wants to hear about, but has to be taken care of. I apologize for my role as a former VP of the organization in not following through the way an office of a corporation should and I want to thank the current board for just getting the job done.

Now to the note so appreciative:

The conversation: I have been a part of much of the web sie re-design. I've been advocate of the process early on and then slid away so that others can take ownership and leadership of it w/o some guy playing seagull all the time. That being said, I saw the strategy slip away into making the chosen technology work, instead of working the technology to the design. There were big realities the teams had to face, but there were moments when it was clear that we just should have pulled the plug on the idea. We were better off where we were. Then HOW the new system was launched was rife w/ Google Buzz-like flair (not a good thing). There were key changes in the behavioral models especially for RSS and Email users that didn't seem to make sense to anyone and no one seemed to recover. What's worse, the system was filled w/ bugs and while continued work on the system happens even early reported bugs like the log-in system, spam management, reply to out of office, and many others have not been dealt with. Blaming the lack of volunteers is not an answer. yes, it would be nice to have more volunteers, but the end-users just don't care about this.

The board's redundant assertion that money &/or volunteership is preventing it from dealing w/ the web presence is what is striking the major nerve among people. Not everyone, but the people who arguably add the biggest value to the community. So if money is the issue, then there is a fundamental problem with the foundation of the organization as an enabler instead of a service organization. It is hard to be a platform service when your platform is sub-standard. So the service needs to change in some way.

Job Board: I'm ambivalent about the switch to Coroflot. I'd love to hear a report about how it is going for IxDA. I don't look at the job board much but I just looked and here are close to 1000 postings since September and got excited, but just realzied that those are ALL Coroflot jobs and not just IxDA submitted ones. Most ads have nothing to do w/ ixD. out of the 174 "Interaction Jobs" I'm assuming only a small part are IxDA submitted, which means I'm predicting only $12,500 at most has been raised. Not bad for a quarter of the year. Would be nice to get a report on # of submissions on average b4 the change and since. There is an assumption that jobs submissions have gone down. The other criticism of the job board is that it creates a level of separation between industry and our constituency. I'm not buying it too much, so I think the main nit here is transparency. I'd also suggest that our job board default to "our submissions" instead of to all of coroflot. If people want to search all, they can reduce the filter later. Right now the noise level is too high.

The conference: I've alluded to the conference as a success, but it also has some issues. 

  • The lack of continuity of content creation means that people don't know what the conference stands for.
  • The choice of host schools for 11 & 12 don't seem to map against the vision behind the strategy of the strong design school host on several levels: Contribution of the host being 1 and then relevance to our constituents that speaks to the goals of the organization.
  • Let's look at this year a bit. The criticism is lodged in 2 areas. The lack of core members of the community participating has lots of people questioning this year's curation. Say what you want about new voices, but there doesn't seem to be enough of a balance here. "So what? it sold out anyway, right?" but what is the conference if the leaders of the community aren't participating attending? Who is it for?
  • The voice of the conference is unsympathetic and unaccommodating. At every turn through this conference "No" or "we can't" w/o apology or sympathy has come out of the conference voice. When we saw IxD10 selling out (even before we thought that was a possibility) we had an idea for accommodating a lot more people. Further there has been no official voice from the conference about the sell-out, nor figuring out how to get more people to experience the content, ie. live streaming it. 
  • A critique of all 3 previous conferences thus far has been the lack of clear connection to the web/software community when it comes to keynotes and primary curated content. It's a feel question. I don't have an answer to it, b/c I'm not a part of that community, but I listen and am sympathetic.
Silence is not an options: My biggest complaint is the lack of engagement by the board in the community directly. We hear from board members only w/ announcements. Where are you? I have had this complaint from the very first board. If you are going to lead in a contributor based community, people need to see you contributing in its most central and visible outlet.
So this begs the question, what now? So here are my thoughts:
  1. Erase the list and start over again. Yup! huge deal, but when ya fail you have to do something about it. A year is a long time to lie w/ failure for this fickle community w/ way too many options.
  2. Find a way to create membership. LinkedIn + List + Locals, etc. is just to hard to monetize among the world. Our #'s are fake and thus we have no idea what our real influence/impact really is. Is this a paid model? Is this as Dan Saffer proposed by having an IDSA like "approval system"/vetting? I agree w/ Dan that a smaller membership that is invested and is contributing is better than a larger one that is mostly lurking, consuming. 
  3. Create a TED-like licensing so that anyone can create a regional IxDA conference easily w/ a "Just do it!" policy provided that all content is given back to ixDA and added to the video archive ala TEDx.
  4. Need to create a better boarder communication model from the board to the constituents.
  5. Need to strategically monetize the organization so that resources can increase w/o volunteering. Again, this may require member fees.
  6. Define the Damn Thing more narrowly and not just the discipline, but the practice. Set the tone. Things have changed in 5 years since Tog and that thing is that IxD is it. Live it! be it! and own it! non-apologetically.
I'll stop there.
Happy New Year!
-- dave

30 Dec 2010 - 11:47am
Dave Malouf
2005

A new take on this that I posted to Quora

While I know these processes might be painful for some to go through, I think this has been really valuable and just beyond the catharsis of a good old "bitch session". Though that is helpful too. After reading everything here are my thoughts about what IxDA should be when it grows up.

 

 

If I have to look at the issues that bubbled up this whole conversation they would be:

 

  1. dissatisfaction w/ the conversation and the means to converse. I'm not 100% convinced the latter is really an issue b/c quite honestly while its buggy, I get by. Maybe I just have a high pain tolerance, but I don't really feel in pain. As to the former, yea, its starting to feel like SIGIA-L circa 2003 (right when IxDA was started). I have always thought that the content is what the content is. I believe in the power of the conversation for its own sake and I would still like to find a space for it.
  2. It seems like people are having different purposes for the conversation. We are being inundated w/ so many sources of information that we are being forced to pick and choose our channels carefully. This means that people who used to invest heavily into our channel have new ones. Be that Twitter, Quora, Blogs, JohnnyH, Local lists (no one brought up this phenomena yet), etc. I could see great value in manual and automated aggregation that allows for discussion. Almost like a Delicious cum Digg type amalgam. Where it is focused precisely on knowledge & information and less on conversation.
  3. Spam - no one likes it and tools like Gmail and Akismet have been pretty successful at protecting us from spam. So our pain tolerance for Spam is pretty darn low. People started panicking and unnecessary comments were made by many. One of these comments was about the state of volunteership in IxDA and chided the members as "apathetic". Also, part of this is the lack of financial resources in order to maintain our stuff.
  4. The conference sold out early. Earlier than it had in any of the previous 3 years. Yea! that's great! but its meant a lot of our community regulars, the people who have been our die-hard supporters will not be coming. Not just 1 or 2 people, but many! Including former board members, keynotes, and die-hard local workers. I'm particularly sensitive to this b/c in 2010 we sold out but we had added another 75 people to the mix through inventive means. Use a remote location w/ close circuit, live-stream it w/ a back-channel, etc. There has been only celebration, but no one has taken responsibility or shown sympathy at all. It just isn't in the spirit of the conference or the organization. There were just other niceties removed from this conference like group discounts and the management of the student volunteers just was off. It all feels rough and not like IxDA of past.

 

So that is how we got here. Does this all call for radical change? Public trial? Virtual Town Meeting? Maybe. But for the people who feel put out by all this, I'd say, its been a REALLY long time since there has been public conversation about what IxDA is, should be, for whom, and how and why. Actually not since the dissolving of the Working Group email list has there been in my memory a public conversation at this level. Sure some sniping here and there and maybe a little too much honesty, but just like family we all get by in the end. So what did I get out of all this?

 

1. People ARE engaged. That if we don't change a thing it will remain rough, but it will remain IxDA. People like Yohan Creemers to me are much more the soul of IxDA than myself or Dan Saffer or Jared Spool or Andrei Herasimchuk. Maybe there are new places to go for us, or maybe we can find other ways to participate. But looking at the local groups and regional activity as I've been forced to do through this conversation I see amazing energy and impact. I think there is room to help these folks more and for them to help the international org as well. I so miss being in a city with a local group. But there are people like me who live in places w/o critical mass of practioners. They need the international org. They just can't go to a Design by Fire Cafe, or an IxDA Boston Workshop. There are folks who need the International Org.

 

2. The board is invisible. I said this a couple of times through all this. They work hard, I know, but they are unknown heros. I don't think this speaks ill of them per se, but of the way we have set up governance at all. Since local groups and the conference are our real value props I suggest we set up a representational system where board members are selected from local regions instead of from ad hoc nominations. This will make the board more representational and more visible. People will have known the people they sent to the board. This became really clear to me during this last nomination period where no one knew who was running, how they faired, what they stood for, etc. This became really clear to me when I was down at Interaction South America. There are some 10 local groups for Brazil and they congress and communicate amongst each other. But they felt very separated from the international community.

 

3. I stated somewhere that our "contributor" ideal is failing at an infrastructural level. This can be looked at in a few ways:

a. There are no clear means to see where & how to contribute currently besides "complaints". Not the best way to motivate people to contribute.

b. We do not have partnerships (from what I can see) w/ contributor communities like we need if we are going to use platforms like Drupal.

Can these be implemented or improved, probably, but despite our ideal for open contribution as our culture, I do not think it maps against the reality of design culture. (1 of the reasons that design and open source struggle.) We have a prima dona edge (no judgements/guilty as charged) &/or we are incredibly busy with well, work. We don't "tinker" on our "off time" through contributing to other projects, we read, explore, experience because ours is a culture of insight hunting.

Lastly, I think we do not have a real model to reflect against that works for our context. I do not believe that the open source movement works for us. And I think that w/o a tangible model working towards an open system is too experimental for a group at the scale we are currently at. We have too many people depending on us.

 

4. Because of #3, I think we need to monetize. In my early research for the first board retreat it became clear that people were much more willing to pay for local groups than global groups, especially if paying for said local membership gave them global privileges. SIGCHI/ACM have this model + a means for people outside of strong local communities to pay directly to the global organization. The relationship between ACM and SIGCHI and Local chapters is a bit weird and I wouldn't want to copy it directly, but there is a model there to reflect upon. This would be how I would suggest we move forward. Local groups would charge for membership and a small percentage of that membership fee would go to the global organization. Being a member locally is being a member globally. I like some of the ideas that Dan Saffer suggested for offering value products to people. I understand Yohan's concern about barriers are at play here, but I think there are ways mentioned in this thread that people who want to dabble can still do so w/o being members. 

 

5. I don't think it is possible for IxDA to say what people do in practice, but they should state firmly what interaction design is, not just as a statement, but as a body of knowledge. Not a collection of Q&A, but a true compendium.http://interaction-design.org/ is putting together such an "encyclopedia", but I believe that it is way beyond "interaction design", and much more HCI (so far). I believe Dan's reference he recently created is on the right path. As noted above if we did something akin to Delicious + Digg + (conversation), we'd be close to what we need for the ad hoc part. But then we would need to create and curate a Cannon of IxD-the discipline.

 

6. There need to be more opportunities for people to meet regionally. Design by Fire and Interaction South America are models that we should expand upon. No one told these folks to do this, they just did it, so just do it. Get out there and create the effort. 

 

7. We need to reach out beyond IxD practitioners, beyond UX. We need to reach out to the dev and business communities. they are our partners in practice and they should be our partners in our communities. IxDA may want to create events and offer services that others can collaborate w/ and/or consume as a basis of building hese bridges. One avenue is to work with organizations that are market specific such as healthcare, education, consumer electronics, where our services are being used already, but not at a level of visibility or comfort they deserve

 

 

3 Jan 2011 - 11:49am
Andrew Otwell
2004

Dave, I just wanted to say thanks for your long and thoughtful comments on this thread. There are no easy answers but I appreciate the idea of drawing some sharp lines in the sand as a way to improve things. (And BTW,  I'm one of those regulars who didn't act quickly enough and now am going to miss my first IxDA conference.)

Pauric: "I'm wondering if it's possible to use the tools of our trade to scope what the solution should be, and who for?"  What if the answer is no, it's not possible? Thinking of other large groups, which ones have had success with centralized projects to build infrastructure that IxDA could look to as examples? Dave's example of the Perl community (or look at other programming language communities) is instructive; it's all over the place (at least three "organizations" represent it), but still manages to feel somewhat coherent. 

 

8 Jan 2011 - 10:07am
Matt Nish-Lapidus
2007

I've been following this thread, here and on Quora, but have been hesitant to respond. My hesitancy is partly because I'm on the board, and I don't want my response construed as the "official" view, and partly because there have been so many good ideas and good critiques that I've had trouble synthesizing it all in my head. However, I figure that if I don't respond soon the time will have passed.. so here are my personal, and slightly disorganized thoughts about the IxDA and all that has already been said.

I'd like to start with some initial thoughts:

  • Thank you Dave and Greg for your very well articulated, well thought out, and historically grounded views on the org. The ideas and perspectives of previous board members is an amazing resource, one that we don't take advantage of enough.
  • So far I mostly agree with what has been said. This has been a very hectic transitional year for the IxDA, and I don't see that changing any time soon. The new IxDA.org platform and all it's issues (and improvements, there have been some) came at a time when many other aspects of the organization are in flux... Our numbers grew substantially, and we didn't have the tools or strategies to handle it well in some ways.

 

There have been a number of people referring to the IxDA as failing, or to IxDA.org and the discussions failing. I don't think anything has failed... I think things are changing, and we need to be more agile and adaptive than we have been. The discussion topics have shifted a little from higher level design talk to more rudimentary topics, but if you remember the old mailman list there was always lots of beginner talk and a lot of repetition. This is not a new problem, but one we haven't solved yet and was exacerbated by the influx of new members when the new site launched. We on the board need to be better at leading the conversation in the coming years. We also need your help to do that, we all have to raise the level of discussion together.

Some comments about the website, and where I think we might head. (Input always welcome):

  • I think we lost sight of our main value proposition on the web, which was originally the discussions. IMO, discussions might not be the top value we can offer any more. As Dave and others have said, over the last couple years the number of places to discuss IxD has increased exponentially, and we don't want to compete with Twitter, Quora, or Facebook. We need to offer something different. That might come in the form of more focused conversations, resources, or other tools. I'm not sure yet... 
  • I've been thinking a lot about the role of email in the IxDA discussions, and starting to believe that we should do away with it, move to a more organized online forum model where topics and levels of discussion can be separated and easily filtered. 
  • In the end these are experiments.. as we grow and our needs change we will have to make choices and try new things to see what works and what doesn't. Given our completely open membership model we can't ask for large group consensus or voting on all decisions, so smaller groups make those choices. I would love to see more active engagement in those committees from people in the community, and one of our top priorities on the board this year is to make our governance and initiative management more structured and accessible.
  • Money is an issue when maintaining a site like this.. we have two options: find more money, or change the site so it needs less. The first option will let us build infrastructure that will (hopefully) offer more value and utility, the second might help us focus on the bear essentials.

 

On some other topics, the Local Groups and Interaction conferences have been a huge success. They still have their issues, but what doesn't... In any objective sense, these two things are going well and have the highest level of engagement and value right now. 

Adrian made a couple points that I think are worth agreeing wtih:

  • I agree that, to me, the IxDA always felt like a community, not an organization.. that is, until I become a board member :) Personally, I would like that feeling to continue, at least in the discussions and events. As an organization I don't know that we can offer a lot, as a community we can create a home for IxD.
  • Openness is a very important part of the IxDA. I would like to see us continue to be a free and open community about design. If we need to close/monetize aspects of it, those should not/hopefully not be our base membership.

 

I think that's it for now.. I also think it's important to have these discussions. IxDA belongs to all of us, it's our community.. it's not "run by the board" so to speak. The board exists to facilitate the community, in whatever way we need it most.

Matt

 

21 Feb 2011 - 2:42am
dom.latham
2010

I think this article on TechCrunch is pertinent to this discussion.

http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/20/quora-vs-stackexchange/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Techcrunch+(TechCrunch)

When I first joined IxDA it was in the hope it was going to be a StackOverflow for Interaction Design. Seems like if it was it could have a great future.

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