Worlds Collide Panel

Was invited to speak with a panel selected for the next TIMA/Tag event yesterday evening. The concept, when worlds collide, was about taking members from the business, design, and developer worlds and putting them on a panel to ask questions to, and ask questions of. By keeping my mouth shut more than usual ( a feat, I know ) I learned some ways and attitudes that certain business leaders run their businesses with their different processes, their attitudes toward certain ideas and technologies, and how although dot com is so over-talked about, it’s still great to reflect upon to learn from.

The questions ranged from “How did you survive the post dot com, 9/11 economy”, “How do you see technology now used in your business vs. before”, and “how integral is your business process”. The inter-panel questoins were shortened because of time, but my favorite was, “why does the developer community like Flash? Why are they so excited?”. The audience, too, posed some great questions. We all got hung up on defining terms, which is a road block any mediator needs to move beyond tactfully. For example, 3 times we revisted what creativity means to us, and how it fits into our business. However, it wasn’t really needed in the overall discussion as design means on thing in the ad agency world, and another in the programming one. Still, good points from the audience asking about “diversity”, “creativity’s importance in your workplace”, “where is usability’s representation on the panel” which I responded that someone on the email list before hand had suggested we ad a content writer and usability people to the panel, and a few more about change in client demo-graphics, competitors now customers, and my favorite: big company vs. the contractor. I’m a contractor working for a big company; what does that say?

The one thing I wished I could of spoke more about was clarifying Flash before some of the more business looking members of the audience retired early, the correlation between a need for usability, and creation of jobs that fit those criteria and how that releates to the future of search engine placement. For the latter, content creation was usually done via developers/designers, or whoever was in charge of building the website/application. When journalists got involved, and other talented writers realized with a change in demographics, audience targeting, and modification of headline writing, they were a perfect fit for website and application copy creation. Thus, a new job position was borne. Same held true for the usability front. You now have people whose specific job is to create wireframes and/or do use/test cases on users (perceived or not). One woman had expressed concern about telling clients that come to her for search engine placement for their websites, and she has the dutiful task of telling them that their current site needs to be grossly modified to even have a chance of being listed with a decent rating on some keywords, even before you spend any money on Google keywords, or other search engine paid listing criteria. That last part I interjected. I responded that if history is any indication, as soon as people recognize the importance of those type of talent in up front planning, execution, and later re-factoring, job positions will open immediately. It’s like the usability stuff. First people recognized that a talented team flawlessely executing an application meant jack and lost money if the user couldn’t use it, thus they see the value of a usability person. Same will hold true of search engine placement as I can definately see it as a full time job. Hell, it’s a full time job just adding blog spam comments to MT-Blacklist.

Anyway, it’s neat to hear other people’s perceptions on the dot com thing, regardless of how many times its rehashed, how they’ve remained profitable, how their process and attitudes have changed, how they are mutually exclusive and not in relation to those changes, and my favorite, talking to other contractors about what they are working on.

BTW, working in Development at Bellsouth’s Internet Group, not R&D. This is where I specifically requested I wanted to work, so was mis-spoke to via the recruiter. It’s pretty phat so far. I’ve got my first wireframe here on my desk; I’ve never had a wireframe to develop a Flash app before; pretty neat! …specially ’cause I didn’t have to do it, hehe.