In this podcast, Jeff Parks talks with Jessica DuVerneay, the Global Director for the first annual World Information Architecture Day, held in February 2012. Jessica shares her experience of organizing a global event to celebrate and share the IA discipline.
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00:00:54Today Show at the pleasure of talking with the first Global director for World information architecture day Jessica duvernet Jessica talks about her time helping to organize the first annual world I a day including how the event came to life the phenomenal support and experiences at all events the world over as well as her roles and responsibilities as Global director in February 2013 and we look forward to hearing from those interested in taking on this phone to your position I hope everyone enjoys the podcast information architect and business development manager for the understanding group in Los Angeles Jessica likes to help people and organizations financers the questions will fostering a sense of understanding an apartment during a request for information is a Masters of Science in information at the University of Michigan where she was honored to receive the peer elected Edmund lau lau she's me leadership award in addition to our work is not a Jessica is it that a teacher Artist Library manager and a small
00:01:54this allows her to connect with people and VY top-notch solutions for clients and users with a variety of backgrounds and Jessica thank you so much for taking time to join me today on the boxes Now podcast. Thanks for hosting we also had the pleasure of having you as the director for the first annual World information architecture day and we'll get to that first maybe you could share a little bit nervous about how did World a day come to be okay yeah I actually had very little to do with the Inception of the side yeah I'm a be covert which I'm assuming a lot of boxes and arrows listeners will be familiar with she's an amazing information architect of the things she's been stepping up in the leadership positions for lots of conference is over the past couple years most specifically she ran the most successful idea conference that has ever hosted in 2010 and after coming out of that experience she's been running
00:02:54the summit this this year's was amazing if any of you were able to attend it and essentially Abby and Dan Klein the current Secretary at the co-workers working together and thought leaders and just kind of I think socializing kind of random conversation and and they came up with an idea together in the big problem that they were talking about here is that so many of the conference this is because I have become blank ux2 and conferences and they were thinking you know as passionate about leaders and information architecture how can we redirect the conversation back to kind of more of an eye a Centric discussion and as they're talking they have that kind of other big problem with the conferences is that they seem to be coming becoming North American and European Centric how can we make this conversation open up and become more Global just like our fields are becoming more we are not becoming have been for a long time so they haven't said yet it's kind of just the high-level sketch
00:03:55Ann and dance Denver my mentor and information architecture in life probably for about the past 7 years I want to say he knows I'm crazy and head up there I think we have Jack and she has to go get you some and he knows I have some conference experience when I was in grad school and kind of on a dare he said to me you know hey how do you feel about sharing a conference that hasn't really been out yet and I said okay sounds good so you can walk me through their high-level ideas and I start talking with the board and the idea for World II day starts to become really clear the big picture here the tagline that are are wonderful designer bread Simpson came up with his local connections Global impact again all focusing around information architecture so what we did is we came up with some kind of high-level ideas of the big one
00:04:55being having a theme and 14 topics that though the global discussions can to be framed about designing structures for understanding is the theme that the fanatic chair Jorge Arantes do in Panama City Panama came up with and I'll talk a little bit more about Jorge and in the in a little bit here but essentially what world is a day and being was specifically small events run locally by the discretion of the location coordinators there was mini conference is happening all over the world on the same day February 11th 2012 in every event was different and every event was Jermaine to the needs of that local community so the conference is happened in the languages that were the most relevant local communities and the way the events are set up where structured around with Community could provide for the community needed at the time so we had we had everything run the gamut from
00:05:55South Africa I Jason Hobbs put together a stunning full day event with multiple tracks great local sponsorship and some of the other events were smaller things were some please as basic as a couple of speakers came and talked for a couple hours or just having like a fishbowl type conversation the other thing that tied the events together we're Global keynote from Peter Marvel Lou Rosenfeld and Jorge of the somatic chair those were shown at each event and then the kind of combination of that is I guess he's wonderful little pockets happened in the local communities across the globe at the same on the same day but then to the end of open up the conversation videos recorded from each location and put online
00:06:43it would save us absolutely amazing experience it again just to just sitting back and watching it all the different experiences and ideas role in one has Japan as a sunset on Japan quite literally you know other event started at around the world and it was it was phenomenal to watch and like you said it the one thing that I really enjoyed about it it wasn't just a North American or european Century event they had they had two cities around the world participating in an in particular a lot of people ask me after the event they were asked you know a couple of things that's how specific cities were chosen for their first event and why 1414 sort of confused people like I don't understand so maybe we can talk a little bit about how the cities were chosen and and why was 14 the number absolutely so a lot of what I just said to you I feel like sometimes when I explain the conference people kind of look at me like okay what did you just say I kind of go off in a monologue cuz there's so many different pieces so I
00:07:43do you want to encourage people to check out World. Org to kind of see that information that I just kind of spewed out again written but the big reason that we had 14 cities because it was the 14th anniversary of the polar bear book polar bear book information architecture for the World Wide Web is its formal title that you search online that's kind of the Seminole tax status information architect so we say oh yeah that was my that's my first I a book and Peta Marvel new Rosenfeld broke that 14 years ago this year so we decided that was how we were going to frame this discussion I'm kind of a you know random cute easy way to do it but it did make sense so in terms of how the 14 cities got selected I'd say that this year particular if it was less of a specific taken more of just the board members of the III leveraging the existing connections and saying you don't hear some people that we know that have been somewhat active in the community but they're not necessarily people that are always having the spotlight
00:08:43the whole idea here is like let's get some people that are great leaders in in the in their local communities kind of more active and involved in unless of let's always go to the same people that are always volunteering because those people are the people that are are kind of prevalent in the community are wonderful and and and very important we still need to kind of again open up the discussion to include as many voices in many thoughts as possible so big thing that we were talking about when we were looking at the distribution of the cities is nowhere hasn't there been an event or major US kind of any sort of presents in the past couple of years how can we open this up to as many cities as possible so I know for example I was talking with the folks at Rancho Kio. Sushi in and the people that helped him and it said you know this is the first time that we've ever had and I specific event here in this is been really exciting we've been waiting for this to happen and we're really happy that this has been able to have it because I have a very robust
00:09:43Unity any ideas like let's let's get everybody involved any other thing too and I think that maybe didn't didn't get communicated very well as that just because the 14 where the official locations it doesn't mean that anybody else was excluded we did put out information about how to host an independent event and I do believe a couple of those happened that we don't have a lot of good information on under the independent events and I think that'll kind of be something that's encourage going forward because the eye is putting on an event doesn't mean that that excludes anybody else from doing their own thing and it's the fullest quotes for people who don't know I am actually on the board of directors and was during during the first world a day of it and I met with the board that last week and we we had a lot of conversations were making some changes to the II that I think we're going to have a huge and very positive impact on the community moving forward and one of the things we talked about with the world a day just so people know the next one that's coming up is that we unanimously agreed that we want to keep this up
00:10:43free event and so that's what we're going to be working very hard to do is to make sure that we can make changes to the III that allow all participants who are chosen an official then you to make the event free in addition the 14 events people asked us or we can add one more at a time we're going to set up a process whereby we're going to call over to people who would like to host an official event for this year for the next one we should actually a 2013 so I should clarify this year next year and we are going to be looking for the Saturday the 12th excuse make to be looking at anyone that wants to register to get in contact with us and we'll be putting together sort of an outline of the of the areas of the things that we need you to provide us different cities provide us with so we know that you have the capacity inability to run the event to have the venues that are there and also for us to understand okay well what kind of support do we need to provide each City because as you pointed out yet
00:11:43so you know this year we looked at last year she's me we looked at venues that traditionally didn't have these type of events being run and so we want to do the same thing again with the cities that we select for 2013 moving forward but the exact number is going to be dependent on the number of people that send us information about what goes on in terms of what they're able to provide excuse me and and and we will get those things rolling in the next couple of weeks but one of the first things that we need more than anything right now is a new director because Jessica is stepping down as the director for World a day and maybe you could talk to her listeners a little bit about you know your role is director in your responsibility so that people that might be thinking about taking on this role they get an understanding of what's involved before they before they submit their name
00:12:29absolutely you know this was an amazing opportunity for me and you know I said Dan kind of asked me to do it on a day air but it ended up being one of the best things I did last year and towards the beginning of this year was things I want to start off with a saying is I'm not a rockstar I probably most of you never ever heard my name before you might Google my name after the lesson by not a whole lot of information I'm just a mid-level IAA with you know how to work under my belt but what does conference help me do is help me build my my professional concert confidence and then also more importantly help me build my Global awareness of our field and it really gave me some insights and Pockets about the I practice that I don't think I would necessarily be exposed to just kind of going through and working my my day-to-day job that I had at the time you know the other cool thing about this for me just a personal benefit was that it's humbling inspiring to be working with these great minds across the globe
00:13:29and kind of having a sense of Pride that I'm I'm helping something become a reality so you know it's yes it's an absolute ton of work I'm not going to use that doctor at all but I mean I guess I guess the last thing that I want to I want to talk about before I actually get into what I had to do was just the fact that I work with some just phenomenal phenomenal people I'm so I need to I need to do my roll call and thanks here so first of all obviously Jorge around Joe the Thematic chair he was a past II president just so absolutely wonderful inspiring person to be working with I don't know if I would have had the ability to have direct contact with him if I didn't have this opportunity a good friend of mine Joe Elmendorf with the technical director that was a person that was in charge of getting the website setup maintaining it troubleshooting any sort of video capture issues posting and and transcribing the videos in the English Joe did a ton of work and it was great for me to be able to work with one of my close friends
00:14:29Jeff I have to obviously say this you were my social media director you protected me from the twitters so personal goals this year is actually to start using Twitter not quite there yet to get to work with you she was absolutely amazing she provided a lot of administrative support and all the sponsorship for the conference and seeing her kind of at work was was great and then Brad my red Simpson my graphic designer he put together a great brand and I also have to give a special thanks to Dan Klein and Andre arrest me neither well the whole II board did help out with us it was great to have them specifically really in my corner helping me problem solve a lot of these things into see their their thought leadership in the way they handled some interesting interpersonal situations was inspiring and great so
00:15:29okay I'm done I'm done with my my little glowing Praise of this you know they tell you to do the praise sandwich to watch I think we need to put more people in the spotlight more often when these sorts of vents go on because you know I have attended a lot of conference is over the last few years and had the absolute pleasure of doing sewing and I've also had the pleasure of meeting people that actually do all the work and setting it up and run the event during the event and problem-solving what not and and really in my mind those are the people that those are the people that are behind the scenes that really should get a lot more accolades than they do and so you're very kind of your comments but but I agree with you full heartedly these things take a lot of work and again just to reinforce the position that you're leaving and that we're looking to fill isn't paid in volunteer write my so and everyone you just mention nobody got a dime for this this is all volunteer efforts to try to run this event so it takes a lot of effort and
00:16:29it takes a lot of passion you have to really love what you're doing and you have to have a genuine desire to do it and do it effectively so that being said what are some what were some of your not you actually answer your question it just it just a little bit of framework around it I started in August and we had until February so this is the 6-month schedule it took me anywhere from 2 to 15 hours a week to do this probably airing towards closer to 10 so my responsibilities in the sentence for self and assigned so nobody told me you have to do this they just you know the board came to me and said do you want to do this and I said yes so a lot of this was kind of responsibilities I gave myself so a quick list first of all create and maintain a project schedule that's a lot of baked Camp Google Calendars spreadsheets shared document
00:17:29I'm making sure everything is on time making sure everything is kind of work backwards from February 11th so the day actually happens second part of a big responsibility is facilitating the global communication with the 14 location so after the locations were established really making sure that everybody was on the same page everybody understood the project schedule a big part of that was my third responsibility which is kind of coming up with an aggregate unified forms papers process for my internal team you know there's no system that I was in a no Legacy system is working with in terms of data capture or internal communication so coming up with how I was going to set those internal flows was important and I have to say I'm pretty happy I am and I a k and some of those things like looking at my user flows and I'm going to save the bad I ate jokes for later but it was really really useful that I did have a background in IA
00:18:29I had the fourth part of this too was to communicate with the II board around decisions you know I did feel like the board gave me an absolute ton of agency to kind of just a run with it and be confident in saying this is the way it's going to be they stay supportive and backing up for understands I made but some things I needed to go to them for guidance in terms of like the Matic approach financial information some sort of like massive logistical things in terms of leveraging their networks and things like that the fifth thing I did was delegate responsibilities to others I'm specifically that team that I mentioned before Jorge JoJo rain Brandon saying to them hey guys this is what I need from you can you help me with this in terms of specifically branding and web design web creation and maintenance social media management budgeting sponsorship again all volunteers and stuff to me to kind of stay like you need to do this please do it by the state and then following up with people to make sure it happened create
00:19:29and Publishing content from the world a day wipe website with something I worked on so I have some assistance from a part-time copywriter Salinger but she took Mormon editorial kind of role after I would create the content she would check over it for me I also had some PR responsibilities and terms of making sure people understood that this event was actually happening on a global level and then assisting the 14 specific locations with their PR kind of approaches and then the last thing that I did was cordinate order and ship the global Swag like the lanyards and kind of some accouterment that had to do with with the day itself t-shirts buttons notebooks things like that so you know and I'm sure there's things I'm missing right
00:20:29there is always there is a plethora of things that just that just overwhelm you and and all these different ideas come around and and and I think that's one of the things when you're when you're running a lot of success but there are also some some failures and his mistakes that were made along the way so you know this is how you know we learn by making mistakes we learn by failing at and we do better the next time so you know there's some success it I know you sure that if you had to do again as the Director you might do differently for example absolutely I just want to share the journey is that 1600 people were involved in this day directly and that doesn't even include the people that watch the videos online or we're following on Twitter or just heard about it this year and are excited to participate next year me I already have people emailing me saying when's next
00:21:29happening and I'm like well we're talking about that shortly 10 but yet for 1,600 people to do something at the same time and learn about in and grow the field of I am I think that's awesome in terms of successes and failures like definitely the first thing for me is getting started early like I said we didn't really even jump into this until August which only gave me 6 months then I think that was probably the first thing that kind of set the ball to be a little little stressful
00:22:05and in the future I would definitely get started like this month now the other thing I think I am obsessed with time scheduling and calendars and I get very rigid in the way that I schedule things in anybody that knows me is laughing right now if they're listening to this is saying yes she's obsessed with Google Calendar so the things I would do that actually ended up doing in this process was patting the event time frames and saying like if it's due on Tuesday I'm actually going to tell people to do the Tuesday before and then push it back another big thing I think that we could have been proved on was the idea of planning the sponsorship earlier I want to first start by giving a big shout-out to Adobe O'Reilly media enmu expenses where are three polar bear level sponsors that really made the the event wonderful and to Noreen nareen said from
00:23:05day one hey guys what are we doing for sponsorship and I I kind of air errantly said oh and not really worried about it well I needed to be work
00:23:16most definitely so hats off to Noreen for knowing what was going on but we ended up doing a great job with the limited time we had but I think Noreen had maybe two months to figure out sponsorship so so doing that that was that was really great you know another thing is is and I think this is less of like a something that's that's more related to World a day and it's less related to worldwide and more related just two giant projects in general I'm planning a flake Factor
00:23:48of the 14 original City that we talked to two of them kind of just fell off the face of the Earth and certain things aren't going to go the way that you initially it sooner going to happen if people are going to have to back out are things for whatever reason the converse out of that which I think is a great success story is don't plan on this but really appreciate a Hero factor because there are people that when things go wrong or just going to step in quietly and handle the situation in a way that you never even understood could be handled and I want to give to Giant thanks to Hector Rodriguez and Bogota Colombia and roast meat hour and Ghent Belgium these two locations actually we're organizing independent non-official event and stepped in I want to say three weeks before the event and became official then switch gave him a lot of extra work but they they really kind of save the day and that way and I think they pulled off amazing events given the small time frame that they had and that they put it
00:24:48yeah they're really without my support so that's pretty amazing another big lesson that I I really would like to pass on to anybody who's thinking about being the couple director this year were the demands on the technical director Joe Elmendorf where Ludacris I did a lot of work and I want to say Joe did as much if not more than I did so a big lesson for me is have somebody in that position that your friend that you can call it 2 in the morning and say I have this ridiculous thing I need you to do right now and they will hate you so if there's any way that the director and technical director can be already have an established good working relationship and if you try I would say that would be a great strengths that was a great success this year another another thing that I think went really well this year is that it was free there was there was a couple of events that had to charge given the nature of
00:25:47robustness of their event is what kind of exceptions to the rule but in general I'd say having the events Be Free as a good thing because it really encourages participation from people that maybe are on the fence about you know I am I in IA what is IA I'm in the more we can kind of open up the discussion and include those people's thoughts and ideas into into the conferences in the discussion that were having a think it's better for everybody involved and I'm really happy to hear that the board is planning on doing this going forward
00:26:19yeah a couple I've got a long laundry list I don't want to go on monologue cuz I mean I think that's that's an area where a lot of people cannot come pick up on as well specially Future Leaders for they can go okay I'll learn from that movie for absolutely you know that I wasn't expecting is 1414 locations may have 14 different languages in some of my communication I feel like a specially at first I was using idioms or not being cleared my language in the end that didn't necessarily help it in terms of internal communication where I'd have to send the same email like 3 times to somebody so that Google translate could get it to the point where is making sense if there's any people out there that are multilingual I'd say that being an immense acid as long as a global director don't not a requirement you know along the idea of lying
00:27:19which two as we're making these Keno videos and getting the videos in from the 14th specific event the transcription of the videos with something that was pretty rough for us you know having these videos subtitled in English and then put on YouTube allow them to be translated into tons of different languages now given the Google translate beta on YouTube I don't know if you guys have seen that functionality but it's it's pretty great we didn't allocate enough time or budget to having the videos be professionally transcribing making them more accessible to everybody across the globe I had a major failure in terms of the way that I handled PR I did not get the word out enough globally on that I don't feel like I was there supporting the local communities better so my suggestion the future would be maybe there needs to be a PR marketing coordinator where I could you know the director
00:28:19delegate some of those things out to another person to handle kind of a minor thing that ended up being a nightmare at the end is I don't think we had our brain around what it meant to ship things internationally with with Customs we we ended up with some just Giant snafus in terms of sending out these great boxes of prizes and products and then you know the vendor that we shipped with last last week contacted me and said so we just received a box of lanyards from Brazil that never got delivered and I was like oh good so that needs to be handled earlier and more proficiently
00:29:01you don't and I would just say yeah overall that there's there's a bunch of other like small things that that you needed to be improved you know I'm sure the board has some ideas on how they're going to guide going going for in the future that will correct some of those from from a strategic overall perspective but you know it was good whoever ends up coming on to do this next year we will have some more kind of information internally that I'd be happy to share with them these are you know when you talk about things these are the great thing about events when they run very well and it again for the first time running a global event like this the feedback that that people that people provided was was phenomenal the experiences that people hide around the world what were great and a lot of it had to do with the fact that it was organized but it wasn't controlled you know we have basically we gave him the idea of the themes and then
00:30:01the eye and and yourself included everyone involved really step back and just let the day go and I think that's that was what was great because we didn't assume to understand that the needs within different cultures the challenges of local and international business is might have compared to different countries and cities the world over and it really allowed people just sit back and enjoy a day ideas about the discipline of information architecture into that and one of the things that I joining joining the board of nearly two years ago now one of the things that I experienced was a few days with a passport or they were handing off things and and passport numbers are always available to talk and help out moving forward but one of the things that I experience I think those we need a longer transition when we do the handoff to other board members when when certain board members come and go and to that extent to I just wanted to make it clear Jessica you'll be a when we decide on a new Global director or get someone in place you'll be available to them
00:31:01true to answer questions and maybe if maybe just clarifies any any documents and everything will be passing on for a little while yeah absolutely one of my one of my strengths I think in this position as my background and now librarianship so I'm always thinking about like institutional memory and transitions of documents from from one stake holder to another so I tried to document as much of my process timelines internal deliverables and keep that are organized in a base camp and then Google Documents account and I'm absolutely thrilled to walk the person who assumes the role in the future through all the documentation that I have the kind of as an onboarding process but then also I'm more than happy to be on board as it as an advisor or I'm kind of like a mini Mentor for anybody who wants to know the way I did it again like you said I really like what you just said Jeff about like this was organized but not controlled I have absolutely no desire
00:32:01where to tell somebody how to do their job or just be there as a resource if if they think that I could help them in any way you know that you're not alone you have me the board members were incredibly helpful like I mentioned and then also a lot of support from the local coordinators they're not get the people that step forward to her and she sings their Community are not going to sit there and be quiet about you know if I see something you're not going right Lynn polish check-in in Vancouver and keep and stone in Ann Arbor particularly we're incredibly vocal leaders and their communities in Sidney Ohio to be helpful if I had this how come I don't have this because I haven't made any accident think about it but thank you for letting me know I'm making it right now so it's it's it's about the discipline of IA it's not really about the II quite frankly because the eye is about the discipline as well and in the only time the directors as far as I'm
00:33:01as a director and speaking for myself in and hopefully for the rest of the team as well what time we should step up is when we failed to deliver something there's a problem with the rest of the time the focus should be on the discipline and the members of the community and and those that are just interested in the discipline of affirmation architecture and in our world really should be about providing Insight sand and ideas that can inspire people to learn more about the discipline and how to evolve it overtime and an end of my professional opinion I think all the efforts by everyone on world I ate a the first one was a was a brilliant step in that direction and I think 2013 is will learn from the mistakes and we'll take the Great's the majority of the amazing things that were done by you and others the world over and we'll build on that and hopefully but I think the first step excuse me it is to find a new Global tractor and with your inside share today Jessica based on your experiences you very much appreciated and I have no doubt we'll find someone to take the reins and end and to build upon the great experiences people have the world over for 2013 so I'll be half of everyone within the eye
00:34:01Unity I want to thank you so much for your time today all of the work that you did last year and I look forward to continue to follow your wisdom in helping us build an even greater event in 2013 you so much for your time today Jeff and before we kind of close out here I just want to ask who should people contact what's the what's the email address for people if they are interest how could they reach out and say oh oh I have more questions or yes consider me how does that how does it happen the main one for now so anyone that's interested in this can contact can contact that are they can also contact Marine weisel at operations at Eye Institute. Org I think those are the two best email address to reach people and I'll put those in the show notes along with any other contact information that people might need to I'll get in touch with us to inquire about the director position or anything else about world a day
00:34:59thank you for tuning in to the Box Narrows podcast we hope you enjoyed this conversation many thanks to our sponsors vitamin talent and Morgan Kaufmann for their generous support and without him we could not bring you these shows to hear every more for the best design for a round-the-world visit Fox's Narrows. Calm and join the conversation

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