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2014 Year in Review: Dennis

(One of my) Favourite book(s) of 2014: Intertwingled, by Peter Morville Part philosophy, part cultural study, part exploration of the future of Information Architecture, this is one strange book. In it, Morville examines the nature of information and the deeply interconnected spaces in which it resides. Along the way he shows how culture, though seldom discussed, affects everything we do. He looks at the limits of what we’re able to understand, notes the rarely exposed assumptions that underpin our ideas, and reminds us that certainty is the enemy of creativity. This is a book filled with wisdom not only for IA practice, but for life. It’s short, but I could it read many times before absorbing its lessons.   Personal highlight of 2014:  In October I was lucky enough to spend six solo days in New York City, one of my favourite places to visit. Before travelling I decided that I would not spend my entire time rushing madly about trying to do all the things. Instead, I promised myself I would spend part of every day just sitting and looking and sketching what I saw. No screen between me and the world. Just paper and pen and eyes. On a rainy Saturday… Read More

Most interesting project: Working with BC Justice, learning about criminal procedures from arrest to bail to arraignment to trial by shadowing crown prosecutors and their staff. By the end we had learned so much that we needed a wall-sized journey map to showcase it all. Favourite work-related blog in 2014: FiveThirtyEight has some neat data analysis approaches. I especially like the Dear Mona column because she always clearly outlines her process for finding the answer, including discussion on the possible shortcomings of the data available. Favourite nForm moment: Everybody is always such a good sport whenever I have unusual ideas to try out. We spent a month practising our squatting every afternoon! We play improv warm-up games at our retreats! They played this very weird Christmas song game, happily! My favourite day in this past year, though, was our annual trivia competition in the spring. It takes a lot of time to put the event together but everybody gets really into it with just the right level of competitiveness. Favourite book you read in 2014: The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. The whole thing is great, but the first and last essays of the book are some of 2014’s finest… Read More

Proudest project moment: Hosting our first ever Better Intranets was extremely rewarding. The whole team pulled together to contribute to all aspects of the event, and it was satisfying to see our clients and other Intranet enthusiasts have an opportunity to get together to talk about their Intranets in a casual environment. Favourite album that came out in 2014: Full of Cheer (A Christmas Album by Home Free) Something you tried for the first time in 2014: Bouldering. My nForm colleagues introduced me to it on our annual retreat in Banff. Favourite Edmonton event: Candy Cane Lane – We’ve made it a tradition to take our kids every year. They love the lights and the atmosphere. It’s fun for the whole family! Favourite Edmonton hotspot: Rostizado – located in the Mercer building just down the street from nForm offices; the food is extremely yummy! Read More

My favourite project moment: I demonstrated my new prototype at a workshop for Alberta Land Titles. The participants were excited with what they saw and provided clear, specific feedback of how it could be improved. It is enjoyable to see how collaboration can create much richer ideas than any individual could. My new favourite tool: Harp, a static website generator created by Brock Whitten in Vancouver. Harp gives me access to fancy development tools that streamline my interactive prototyping process. And because the resulting websites are standard HTML and CSS, they can be easily shared and hosted on any basic web server. My favourite blog post: “Design Fictional Interactions” by Joshua Tanenbaum. I found it helpful to remember that “situating a new technology within a narrative forces us to grapple with questions of ethics, values, social perspectives, causality, politics, psychology, and emotions.” The article encouraged me to keep working on improving my storytelling skills. My top album of 2014: Our Love by Caribou. The confident, danceable electronic tracks have just the right amount of quirky charm. I’ve had the record on repeat since its release in October. The best book I read in 2014: Middlemarch. I was fascinated by Dorothea’s struggle to find meaning… Read More

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