Dead polar bears (was: UX Challenge organizers must be insane)
11 Feb 2009 - 10:52am
5 years ago
A few years ago, at a lunch table at the 2006 IA Summit, a few of us hatched
the idea of the Arctic Challenge. While it seems decadent in today's market,
allow me to share some of the philosophical undercurrents.
1. If you meet the polar bear, kill the polar bear...
The seminal work for many IAs is the polar bear book. Around the table that
day, we talked about leaving behind the old, and charging forcefully into
the battle to bring in the new, the next. What is IA beyond the polar bear?
Borrowing from the Zen koan "if you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha", we
thought it was time to crash through. Going to the Arctic is a way to
immerse ourselves in a polar bear-laden environment. Perhaps, some wandering
IA/IxD would, in a fit of hallucination and frostbite, would indeed slay a
polar bear during an outdoor event. (And, since we're on the IxDA list now,
imagine the bragging rights if someone who self-identifies as an IxD and
_not_ an IA were to slay the first polar bear.)
Some of us, might take this on as a jaunt through the wilderness, where the
Challenge is completely out-of-doors and the need to kill our professional
Buddha will find its destiny in Svalbard.
2. Conferences are nice, but it's time for a challenge. The Challenge.
We were all having fun at the IA Summit, as many of you likely have had fun
at Interaction|09. We new that ahead was the return to the professional
world where things are not fun, but constantly and sometimes uncomfortably
challenging. So, why go into a softer environment to develop our skills?
We figured it's time to have a place to go that is more challenging than
work. A place where you go and are so challenged in the company of your
peers that returning to work to deal with non-UX folks would be easy.
I, for instance, knew that I would return to bureaucracy and politics that
presented vigilant opponents to advancing User Experience practice. I, then
and now, want a place where I am challenged by my peers and those who are
peerless to gain so much confidence and experience that taking on those VPs
of Resistance to Change would be a minor challenge.
We figured other people would be ready for a challenge too.
Perhaps the 'save the world and make a difference' is a new flavor the
Scandinavian planners have added. I can tell you, I don't remember it in the
first conversations. But, if you need to make the business case, shine the
veneer of your proposal with that.
See you there,
Jay A. Morgan
Director, UX at Gage in Minneapolis
google talk: jayamorgan