Back from New York City, now off again on the Halloween red-eye flight to Toronto for DesignThinkers 2006 and drinks with the UXIrregulars on the evening of November 1. At the conference, I’ll be giving a talk on Smart Applications and Clever Devices, as well as signing some books and doing an onstage conversation with Adam Greenfield on “Where Design is Going.” Hopefully not on the rug.

Side Project: No Ideas But In Things

Anyone who follows my Flickr stream has lately probably wondered WTF is going on. All of a sudden, instead of cute pictures of my daughter, there’s all these seemingly-random shots of stuff. Well, they aren’t random, they are for my new side project No Ideas But in Things.

I was inspired first by Bill DeRouchey’s History of the Button talk at Web Visions, then by Andy Clarke’s Creating Inspired Design talk at Web Directions South a few weeks ago. In Andy’s talk, he urged designers to look to the outside world for inspiration instead of just looking at other digital things. This seemed reasonable and fruitful, so that’s what NIBIT is: a collection of physical things for my inspiration. And, if you are an interaction or product designer, hopefully yours as well. I’m compiling a (hopefully large) set of different physical objects and parts of objects, from handles to dials to control panels to different animations.

One reason I’m doing this is that, after Andy’s talk, I realized that although I use my creativity almost every day, I don’t do very much to nurture, nourish or expand it, to deliberately broaden my palette. I hope NIBIT (along with my blog education experiment) does this for me.

Me in NYC

In two weeks, on October 25th, I’ll be giving my Designing for Interaction workshop in New York City. It’ll be at the swank Maritime Hotel in the North Cabana (mojitos anyone?). As always, use my code FODS when you register and get 15% off. (Adaptive Path workshop alumni can get their discount as well using the AP alumni code.)

On the night before the workshop, Tuesday the 24th, join the NYC IxDA and me for a taste of the workshop as I talk about documenting applications! And afterwards: drinks sponsored by Adaptive Path. If you are interested in Tuesday night, RSVP to nyc-rsvp [at] ixda [dot] org.

New Yorkers, you’re always complaining about there not being any interaction design stuff in town, so here’s your chance!

Blogs as Education

In a sense all blogs–like newspapers, magazines, and non-fiction books–are learning tools. But, like most people I would guess, I usually follow the blogs that talk mostly about topics I know quite a bit about. It usually doesn’t take much for me to grasp what is being discussed on most of the blogs I follow.

Well, I decided yesterday, partially inspired by Adam Greenfield’s IA or Not IA post about the conservatism of our industry, to shake things up and get rid of the RSS feeds of blogs who only said things I already mostly knew. (This was about 30 feeds!) Then I went and found blogs that were saying interesting things about subjects about which I only knew a little bit, but wanted to know a lot more: mobile and devices. I found a handful of blogs that are outside my comfort zone, speaking different terminology and, well, thinking differently. I’m going to use these blogs (and any others you might suggest about devices and mobile, to educate myself about new subject areas.

This might be old hat for many of you, but it’s new to me. My 130 or so blog feeds are mostly friends and acquaintances, many of whom do the same things I do. I want to stay current with that, of course, but I also want to learn more about other interesting stuff out there. So this is, like most things, an experiment.

In case you’re curious, the new blogs I subscribed to are Little Springs Design, Small Surfaces, MEX, Wireless Wonders, Crunchgear, Pocketfactory, and Touch.

Good Day

Any day a product of mine launches is usually a good day. And today, something I’m pretty proud of went live: the Soundflavor DJ (no, I’m not responsible for the name). It’s a desktop application that’s a sophisticated playlist maker and works with iTunes and an accompanying website for sharing those playlists (launching in a few months). It’s unfortunately PC-only for now, but a Mac version is in the works. A case study of how we built it is up on the Adaptive Path site. It’s really enjoyable to play with and for people with large music libraries, a real boon to “discovering the music you already own.”