IA Summit 2006 – “Clues to the Future”

Evidently, my proposal to this year’s IA Summit has been accepted. Now comes the tough part of actually having a presentation.

I have plenty of stuff to present on … that’s just the problem. The challenge is getting it all winnowed down into something coherent and useful.

The conference organizers say I need to have my presentation materials to them by 2/1 so they can go onto the CD-ROM. But my PP decks usually have a lot of filler that only makes sense with the verbal narrative — so it may make more sense to provide an abstract, an outline, bibliography/links to research, and a link to a page here where people can download the latest-greatest if they so please.

Here’s the final version of the proposal/description (which I’m not sure if I got in on time, so this may not be identical to the actual conference info):

Clues to the Future: What the users of tomorrow are teaching us today.

What might Wikipedia have in common with World of Warcraft? And how might that affect design and business strategy today?

According recent academic and business research, there is an enormous wave of people on its way to adulthood that may very well take us by surprise. And while many designers may be aware of this, we still face the challenge of making it clear to our clients and stake-holders.

Beyond the hype and more obvious implications of the “net generation” are key questions that affect how business and design plan for the future. For example: the shift from hierarchical to nodal paradigms; the rise of new kinds of literacy (and authority); the blurring boundaries between ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ economies; the splintering of identity; and users who, frankly, expect your web environment to be as well designed as the best games on their X-Boxes.

It’s important not to focus on the surface gadgetry, but to understand what is different about how these users think, how they solve problems and manage resources, how they socialize and organize, and how vastly different it may be from the assumed conventions of most business and design decision-makers (i.e. people born before 1985).

This presentation will:

1. Survey some of the current research and insights on the issue;
2. Explore some of the more challenging theoretical questions raised;
3. Discuss the practical business and design implications of those questions; and
4. Suggest how those implications might help make stronger cases for innovative design.

Hopefully this won’t just be a retread of stuff people already know. The basic theme is that by studying how the net generation uses things like social networks and multiplayer game environments, we can see what their mental models are going to be like when they’re full-fledged adult users.

This theme may sound obvious to many… but I haven’t heard much of a call for looking to these sources for planning business and design strategy for the near term.

If it takes most coporations about five years to get any truly ambitious technology shift into a mature state (and that’s if they’re in the quick crowd), why not go ahead and think about what that mature state should be once seventeen-year-olds are starting their careers? There’s amazing research and theory-making going on about online games, especially. They seem to me to be perfect laboratories, e-petri dishes, for seeing how an electronically mediated community (and that specialized community — the market economy) functions.

Here’s a separate page where I’ll be keeping info about it, links to related articles and research, and the final version of the presentation (eventually).

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  • http://www.eddiejames.com Eddie James

    I noticed that you were speaking. Congrats! I’m very interested in your talk, so I’ll be there in the front row cheering you on. I just hope that my inkblurt tee shirt fits in my suitcase.

    It’s going to be a great time in Vancouver.


  • Pingback: Pew Internet: Teens, Video Games and Civics

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