Interview with Peter Morville at IA Summit 09

Recently, I traveled to Memphis for IA Summit 09 and met with some wonderful people. I had many stimulating conversations - some of which were recorded. Here is a transcript of one of those conversations. This one is with Peter Morville.

Sam: Thanks Peter for spending a couple of minutes with me – tell me a little bit about what you are up to nowdays. Of course we all know you from books like Ambient Findability and the polar bear book but what are you up to now?

Peter: I have been enjoying a real wide range of consulting in the past year, working with Fortune 500 on an intranet project, working with a European mobile network firm on the future of mobile search, and most recently I have been working with the Library of Congress and looking at how they can structure and organise their website but also their relationships with sites like flickr, You Tube and iTunes and how they can kind of extend the access of their content through these different channels. So a lot of different kinds of consulting and continuing to show up at conferences and working on a new book.

Sam: Wonderful, well we’d love to host you anytime you’d like to come. Thanks a lot for your time Peter.

Sam: That sounds interesting. We’ll get back to talk about this new book. Meanwhile - we’re at IA Summit 2009 – what’s your main takeaway from this conference?

Peter: I think that the really nice thing about this years' conference is there is a sense of maturity and orientation towards integration. So, rather than seeing web 2.0 as something that is happening out there - there is a lot of really excellent sessions focused on how do we integrate principles of social software and social psychology into the work that we’re doing. So I see this as a year of not so much as totally new stuff, but more focussed on how do we integrate some of the things that have been new over the past few years into our practice.

Sam: So much more pragmatic and practical with the sessions?

Peter: Yeah, we have some really good sessions on how do we do our work better and at the same time sessions looking at the future of the practice and sort of the usual agony over how we define ourselves and its all part of the fun.

Sam: Back to the book - anything you can say about it?

Peter: Well the book is going to be called Search Patterns, and I am working with O’Reilly again, and I have a collaborator, Jeff Callender who is a great graphic designer so we are looking at ways to really show visually how we can do a better job with designing search and looking at both from a practical perspective how do we design search better today but also looking to the future and how do we innovate and think outside the box.

Sam: Excellent! In our company we have been talking about this very topic. UX work in search feels underdeveloped. Looking forward to it. Now, what are your favourite design methods or tools in UX?

Peter: Certainly from a user research prospective I haven’t found any substitute for sitting down one on one with users and doing some interviews and some usability testing. So I continue to really push for that when I work for clients. But I’ve also been looking at opportunities to show in a more visual way and a more conceptual way both the current way and the future way. I’ve been doing a lot of work with concept models and trying to kind of really help executives really see what it is they are dealing with and then start to look for solutions.

Sam: What about trends in our field – any future predictions at all?

Peter: I think we are at another of these interesting moments, where as I mentioned before, we are integrating with the last wave. We are still waiting to see what is going to come next. My prediction is that as we start to dig out of this recession or depression what have you, we will have a new wave of innovation with some really exciting things so perhaps IA Summit will have a whole new set of threats and opportunities to grapple with, but I don’t know what those are just yet.

Sam: Fantastic. Okay, so when are you coming to New Zealand?

Peter: I would love to come back to New Zealand sometime when I can spend more time, really of all the countries that I have travelled to, NZ is the place that I would love to come for 3 months, 6 months and just travel around the country. Its just beautiful and such a relaxed place to be so.

Published on Apr 01, 2009
  • Sam Ng
  • Sam Ng is one of Optimal Workshop's founders.

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