Explain IA: Win 1K

Explain IA is a contest created by the Information Architecture Institute to find the explanation of information architecture. Will be interesting to see what people come up with. I’d especially like to see the explanation that explains IA in layman’s terms in a way that my non-techie mother could understand.

What is it? Why is it important? What does it mean to you? Some folks may offer a definition in 140 characters or less, while others will use this opportunity to tell a story (using text, pictures, audio, and/or video) about their relationship to IA. Anyone can enter, but only IA Institute members can vote for the winners.

To enter, simply join this group, upload your entry to your Flickr account, add the "explainia" tag, and then select "send to group" from the menu options above your entry. Entries must be received by February 11, 2010. Please see below for more details and to learn about our generous sponsors and wonderful prizes.

Grand Prize
The grand prize of $1,000 is co-sponsored by the IA Institute and Endeca.

To enter, post to the Explain IA group.


Playful Design Book Site

Rosenfeld Media have a book site and Ning community up for John Ferrara’s forthcoming book, Playful Design: Creating Game Expderiences in Everyday Interfaces.

Game design is a sibling discipline to software and Web design, but they're siblings that grew up in different houses. They have much more in common than their perceived distinction typically suggests, and user experience practitioners can realize enormous benefit by exploiting the solutions that games have found to the real problems of design. This book will show you how.

This is a book I can't wait to read. It's to be published in 2011, but as with all Rosenfeld books, we get the benefit of reading about the author's research in-progress beforehand.



UXFind is a mashup that uses Google Custom Search Engine and Google App Engine. It provides a search engine tailored for User Experience pros. It indexes over 200 of user experience web sites and blogs. Oddly, they index my old blog iaslash, but not Konigi, so I guess the sources might not be so fresh. It’s a great idea, and I’ve tried to do this in the past too, to just limit to sources I trust. To be honest, I always end up casting a larger net, however.


Drawter: DrawAble Markup Language

Drawter has been sitting in my tabs for a few days now, and I keep coming back to play with it. It wasn’t until I watched the screencast, however, that I really got to see how beautifully it generates markup and css.

Drawter is a web-based xhtml/css layout tool written in JavaScript using the jQuery library. It allows you to literally draw your website's code by dragging boxes within the onscreen canvas to create divs using the dimensions of your rectangles, and then to edit each div's style properties within floating inspectors. When precisely positioned, divs will be nested within containers, and nested divs can be floated within them.

Where this tool really impressed me was with the output of code. Upon generating the code for the layout, a clean stylesheet was produced that used floated divs for positioning, unlike most attempts I've seen to generate code from layouts using absolute positioning. In this way, this tool is not a toy, but creates usable code. The markup and css are also formatted nicely. Watch the screencast to see what I mean.

Drawter is available in a Pro version, which means that it is intended for webmasters use only - knowledge of HTML and CSS is required. It also requires at least 256MB RAM and 800Mhz CPU. It would be interesting to know how they'd react to getting money to integrate it into existing CMSes. They are also working on a simpler version that requires less knowledge of html/css, so this will be one to watch for sure.


BiDi Screen

BiDi Screen was demonstrated at SIGGRAPH Asia this year. It is a thin, depth-sensing LCD for 3D interaction using light fields.

The BiDi Screen is an example of a new type of I/O device that possesses the ability to both capture images and display them. This thin, bidirectional screen extends the latest trend in LCD devices, which has seen the incorporation of photo-diodes into every display pixel. Using a novel optical masking technique developed at the Media Lab, the BiDi Screen can capture lightfield-like quantities, unlocking a wide array of applications from 3-D gesture interaction with CE devices, to seamless video communication.

More demonstrations and paper at Matthew Hirsch’s BiDi Screen page.