• Hi

    These is my log of professional, political and sometimes personal thoughts and observations. I am Bettina Walter, a Senior Information Architect (IA), Interaction Designer and Usability Professional.
    I am co-owner of PunkLogic.

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    Interaction Design

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Remote team working

Great sxsw presentation by W. Cruce Saunders and Linda Norman from Ariesnet on efficient remote working and virtual teaming.
Listen to the podcast here.
(via the IAInstitute mailing list)

This is particularly relevant for a location like Noosa offering a fantastic outdoor lifestyle and a good family friendly community – with great potential for establishing a knowledge-based and creative community working for big clients remotely.

Here are some notes from the podcast:

Strength of virtual teaming:

  • no commute = better life quality and reducing carbon footprint
  • brain power with low over heads and has flexibility in recruitment
  • most successful for knowledge workers and creatives with focus, discipline and high professionalism
  • high degree of efficiency and effectiveness.
  • access to talent – recruiting is easier without geographical limitations
  • much cheaper to run, lower overheads
  • higher productivity
  • happier team
  • no office politics
  • for stronger family life, flexibility for home life
  • result oriented


  • requires good management
  • you need to focus on management systems and tools
  • no adhoc communications around the water cooler
  • lost visual cues and body language
  • client perception: are you a real company – maintaining a professional virtual identity
  • isolation – geographic dispersion – cabin fever
  • focus and not ‘over working’

Tools and best practices:

  • 37 signal tools (basecamp, highrise, etc), various Google file sharing tools and collaboration tools, go-to meeting, webex, Camtasia, conceptshare, MindManager, recruiting/sales/accounting: quickbooks, blinksale
  • pace / regular beats and patterns: regular team and management meetings help to anchor the actions
  • hire office system: execs suites – rent for actual meetings – a homebase to meet – virtual home base
  • format for clean commitments and tasks – good solid project management
  • communication: synchronous and asynchronous
  • for professional phone call management: virtual pbx with ivr / call-butler, VERY important for client perception
  • google for ‘free conference call’

Tips for a strong team culture:

  • implement virtual hallways or ‘water coolers’ for company culture – informal chat opportunities
  • company culture is based based around results: as long as team members exceed client expectations on time you need to give the team freedom and flexibility
  • clear set of standards for new team members
  • communications is an important part of the work
  • don’t overwork
  • keep communication to the point and follow up with phone calls

Oh! Google to get involved in sustainable energy production!

Via ‘O’Reilly Radar’:

Google is going to invest tens of millions in renewable energy. The aim of yesterday’s announced RE<C is to produce a Gigawatt of renewable energy cheaper than coal.

All systems go!

A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).

Creative Class – Noosa

Mark Stockwell, Sarah, Bob Abott and Richard Florida

‘Knowledge and Creativity’ was held at the J., Noosa Junction, on 23/Nov/2007
I attended out of curiosity to check out what the ‘Noosa Creative Alliance’ is all about. After all:

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller
It was worth going – especially for the interesting people I met – thanks Vivianne, Colin, Frank, Leah, Alexander….

from the program – What’s on at the J.:
Richard Florida is the best selling author of the books ‘The Rise of the Creative Class’ and ‘The Flight of the Creative Class’ and is one of the worlds leading public intellectuals on economic competitiveness, demographic trends and cultural and technological innovation.
Florida’s ‘creative class’ is composed of such professionals as scientists, engineers, university professors, poets and architects. Florida theorises that the ‘creative class’ fosters an open, dynamic, personal and professional environment. He holds that attracting and retaining high-quality talent as opposed to a singular focus on infrastructure projects such as sports stadiums, iconic buildings, and shopping centers would be a better primary use of a city’s regeneration resources for long-term

My fairly random thoughts:

  • The whole approach seemed very American – business (building developer) ‘investing’ into a local community and thus trying to shape it’s future very visibly and unabashed.
  • Mark Stockwell was announced as Noosa’s Richard Branson. He is a former Olympic medalist swimmer for Australia and a buiding developer. His company is behind the Noosa Civic Shopping Mall which was mentioned as much as possible on the night – fair enough – Stockwell seem to put $1m up for it. (Can anybody confirm this?)
  • To have Richard Florida flown in to speak and to help creating the right framework for strengthening and expanding Noosa’s Creative Class must cost quite a bit and it might well be worth every penny.
    Will there be any transparency about how this is financed? Maybe there is already and I haven’t found it yet.
  • Richard Florida had very valid things to say – a lot of which make good common sense. For example: tolerance for gays and foreigners is good for a strong creative class in a community. Can you talk ‘tolerance’ up? How do you make it so?
    A luxurious Mardi Gras decompression event on main beach – an oasis with all the herbal and massage therapies to aid recovery from a demanding party comes to mind…
  • On sustainability:
    Richard spoke about how important sustainability and green spaces are for the happiness of a community – and how well Noosa has done in this department.
    My reaction to this is: ‘Low expectations’ gentlemen! Just because the rest of Australia is getting it largely even ‘wronger’ with regards to sustainability, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know better!
    Looking for example at the Noosa Civic:
    Noosa’s latests shopping mall and business center. With it’s huge foot print and roof space I can not understand why the air conditioning is not running on solar power or in fact the whole center’s electricity needs are fed off photo-voltaics. Is the civic rainwater harvesting? Why are there no wildlife corridors through the enormous asphalt dessert which is the car park out front?
  • On inclusiveness:
    White men are still appearing to run the show.
    Hardly any women were visible apart from a mentioning of ‘the beautiful women working for Mark Stockwell’ and Mark presenting Sarah to the audience, who was said to be behind Florida’s ‘Creative Classes’ success in Australia.
  • On motives:
    I would like to see this as a philanthropic gesture and a wise and proactive contribution to the community.
    Putting my more cynical hat on (which color would that be, Mr. de Bono?) I’d say it is a smoke screen for further destruction of natural habitat and a ploy to get life and business into the Civic. I’d be very pleased to be proved wrong.

The noosa creative alliance is all in all an interesting approach. For it to run with heart and integrity we will need a strong representation of the ‘Noosa Creative Class’.

On the night details where collected of people willing to be one of 30 ‘catalysts’ for the program – needless to say I’d like very much to be one.

The entry for the ‘Creative Class’ at the J. was $45 bucks (investment it was called on the program) – that should keep the riff-raff out 😉

Comments, corrections and other views most welcome.


IA Musings: When do you loose the breadcrumb trail?

The breadcrumb metaphor is misleading – I agree with Chris Fahey who calls it ‘crummy’ on a related SIGIA-L thread.

Breadcrumbs don’t follow a user’s movements. A breadcrumb navigation is really more like a GPS, indicating where you are in relation to the nearest info landmarks. On retail sites this would be most likely a department info sign – to stick with the offline model.

Example Freemans:

The breadcrumb navigation is kept very simple and aids jumping back into either top level category OR to search results depending on customer behavior:

  • searching for ‘Item 1’ – breadcrumb displays:
    home > Search for “item 1”

    select department (main category):

    home > main category > Search for “item 1”
  • navigating via global nav – breadcrumb displays:
    home > main category > sub category level 1 > sub category level 2

The breadcrumb generally leaves off at the 2nd level sub category. Facets then guide navigation.
Note the nifty ‘remove facet’ functionality (or dimension as it were – since this is driven by Endeca) – to widen search.
This is one of the most sophisticated faceted (guided) navigation examples for retail I know.

Freemans retail site is an Endeca implementation – which is pricey but very effective. Freemans is part of the Otto Group – a huge Retailer – mail order and online – ‘the world’s second largest’ according to Endeca.

To summarize:
The term ‘Breadcrumb navigation’ leads us up the garden path but has a rich information scent – like freshly baked bread … I get my coat!

WordPress & flickrSLiDR

Trying to figure out how to embed a flickr slideshow of some work samples into my wordpress pages. Does flickrSLiDR not work with wordpress hosted sites? And if not can I keep my template and changes if I host myself? So many questions – as usual.