–Engage

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Why you should give? A vision for a community of practice

I have for the last 2 days subscribers of the various outlets of the IxDA global community have responded to the current fundraiser. It’s been spectacular to see that we have already reached close 25% of our goal. There have been donations from $2 to $300 (that’s 1 expensive cup of coffee).

I’m not sure it is clear what IxDA is asking for and what all this really means. I bet everyone understands that we’ll have a better discussion system (email, web, RSS) that is more scalable and has better usability than the current system which has been completely MacGyvered by Jeff Howard (a miracle worker).

I believe in stories as a powerful form of communication and so I’d like to share a story that I believe will help people understand what IxDA hopes to build.

A persona

Well before we can tell any story, we need a protagonist. In this case the protagonist is your average UX practitioner at an agency in Chicago. We’ll call her Rachel. Rachel has been practicing about 4 yrs in an interactive agency. She goes to local IxDA events from time to time, but also goes to UPA events as well. She went to Interaction 08 | Savannah but couldn’t make it to Interaction 09 | Vancouver because her agency cut its education budget and she has deep concerns about Interaction 10 | Savannah. When she goes t local events, she is most interested in educational events, but definitely likes having her toe in the network pool just in case things go awry at her agency.

Issue with life w/o a new IxDA

Rachel is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn but mostly uses the IxDA email list using Gmail threading and filters. In her current use of the email list, she struggles to keep up with the noise. She isn’t an RSS feed reader, so using that system, or directly with the web site using tags have helped her. She often misses the “important” announcements about chicago related events on the global list as they are buried in the noise of the ongoing hot discussions from time to time. While her local group does have its own web site and communication system, it is not something she engages in as it is yet another destination and noise creator in her relationship to IxDA.

A new vision for Rachel

Rachel gets to her job in the morning. In her mailbox is her daily newsletter summarizing activity that she’s subscribed to using the new IxDA membership control panel. She set up her control panel to not only focus on specific “tagged” content giving it greater weight in her daily summary, but also to highlight specific “Chicago” related material in its own sidebar. In it she specifically asked for event announcements and for job announcements, but she has declined to participate in local-only discussions for the Chicago community.  The tagged content that interests her are about storytelling, social, and mobile. For each tag she’s also set it up so that she can choose which items will be emailed to her and which items only show up in her daily newsletter. The newsletter has other customizations around national/global job announcements, corporate sponsor announcements, and includes a “hot topics” section so that she doesn’t miss items that are not in her tag list but may be interesting to her. Lastly, her newsletter watches her network of “experts” that she “follows” and regardless of topic adds these threads to her newsletter, and for some she even gets their comments directly as email.

As Rachel goes throughout her day, she receives the email in Gmail threads (or Outlook, or Mac Mail). Most items she lurks on, but some she wants to declare favorites. But for her favorite is not just something to be saved, but is something to announce to her community. So from within the email itself here is a “mark as favorite” link. Clicking it brings her to a web page where not only does she see the message in a web browser, but also a list of people who also responded, tagged, or favorited. One person she sees is an expert that she decides she wants to follow more directly. She subscribes to that “expert” & then views a list of her posts and also her favorites.

After going back to her newsletter, she sees that there is an upcoming special event in Chicago–a workshop by a visiting luminary. From the newsletter she clicks on the link for the event and directly in the chicago.ixda.org web site she sees who else is attending and decides to register. The system recognizes that her corporation is a global and local sponsor and offers her the appropriate discount. She registers for the event knowing that she’ll receive an alert accordingly. As noted, Rachel is a twitter user so she tweets the event out to her network directly from the chicago.ixda.org page.

Later in the day Rachel’s boss tells her to put out a job announcement. Rachel rushes to ixda.org and finds the Post a job link. The link takes her to a structured form that allows her to enter the corporation name, title of the position, select from primary skillsets, and put in a general description. After posting the job she is given a bunch of options: post to facebook, connect via LinkedIn and to match her job post as a search query against portfolios of IxDA members who have checked that they are interested in hearing about new positions.

I can go, on and on, so I hope you are getting a picture. Now the caveat I’ll put on this is that this is not all available in 1.0 (or would this be 4.0 or whatever). But the vision is a temporary destination for us to build towards.

Here’s the dealio. This can’t be done for free. It is too complex to be done by volunteers in a timely manner and requires depth of design and programming which we need to pay for to get done right.

So as you see on the tote board, we have a big goal for support, your support. So please give what you can!

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