As the tools for creating digital user experiences mature, interface designers are increasingly able to enhance their existing palette of skills (information architecture, interaction design, visual design, usability engineering, etc.) by looking outside their domain expertise for validation, inspiration, and improvement.
In response, many user experience and design focused conferences, seminars, and lectures have recognized the value inherent in cross-disciplinary perspectives that provide attendees with relevant “horizontal” knowledge.
The 2003 Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) conference theme was Ubiquitous Usability. Cross-disciplinary speakers included:
- Dave Regel, whose construction company specializes in solutions for disabled homeowners, on "Building homes for accessibility"
- Andrew Massey, a professional conductor for 25 years, discussed "Music and the arts: usability in fact and as metaphor"
- Todd Mundt, host of an NPR daily interview program, on "Interviewing techniques design"
Mark Hurst’s Good Experience Live “brings together eclectic speakers who are experts in a number of fields to create a day focused on experience in all its forms.” 2004 speakers included organizational psychologist Phil Mirvis, Onion staff writer Maria Schneider, orator of Dr. Martin Luther King's speeches Eloma Barnes, artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and more between user experience reps from Yahoo, eBay, and Steelcase. 2003 speakers featured senior minister Stephen Bauman, three-piece musical group Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, interactive artist and humorist Ze Frank, and more among user experience reps from Amazon, Google, AOL, and Travelocity.
Doors of Perception “brings together innovators, entrepreneurs, educators, and designers who want to imagine alternative futures and take design steps to realize them.” Speakers at Doors of Perception 8 in New Delhi, India include Industrial Ecologist Ezio Manzini, Howard Rheingold of Smart Mobs, creator of Wikipedia Esme Vos, and more.
Pop! Tech is “an intellectual and creative conference that explores the social impact of technology and the shape of things to come.” The 2004 program, which winds down this weekend, focused on the challenges and opportunities for a New Renaissance in human science, art, industry and understanding. Speakers included Paleoclimatologist Richard Alley, Sustainability visionary Janine Benyus, Chief Demographer for the United Nations Joseph Chamie, Visionary designer Bruce Mau, and more.