I'm resurrecting this blog so I can use it to store my thoughts on the 2015 edUi Conference, which I am attending in Charlottesville, Virginia this week.

The keynote by "Creativity Evangelist" Denise Jacobs was a nice bit of inspiration that I needed to hear. In her talk, the topic of which was "Banish your inner critic," she proceeded to describe my current struggles with self image by describing her own. It helps to know that I'm not the only one who feels inadequate in my skills and qualifications on a daily basis. I'd heard of "imposter syndrome" before; it's what happens when a person is convinced that they do not deserve the position of respect they have earned. It will take more than one inspirational speech to break me of that, I'm afraid, but she got as close as anyone ever has.

My first talk of the day was called "Raising Your Puppy and Domesticating Your Website." It kicked off by comparing a new website to a pet puppy, in that both bring a lot of excitement and attention when they are new but soon require discipline to care for them and keep them from becoming "feral." The speakers were from UNC Chapel Hill's libraries, and they described their process for maintaining their huge library website. The key that I will be proposing when I get back to Blacksburg is a detailed table of every page on the site with a full-time faculty or staff member assigned ownership over every one of them. Every page is reviewed at least annually, or ideally each semester, by its owner (or their delegate).

The second talk was "Solving the Planning Puzzle," presented by members of ICF Interactive. It was a walkthrough of project planning methods, centered around an "octagon of requirements" (more on that perhaps in a future post). One of the more memorable things I got out of their talk was their real-world examples of Axure UX software in use.

The first mini-workshop of the afternoon was "Take a Sketchnote, it will last longer." The speaker introduced us to the concept of "sketchnotes," a more visual approach to note-taking that incorporates glyphs, doodles, and differentiated text styles to create a single page representing the highlights of a talk or lecture. It was a fun idea, but I don't know if I really needed a full 1.5 hours to get the point. It would have worked just as well for me to show some examples, give some tips, and then say "practice, practice, practice!" In other words, an online article would have sufficed. No knock on the speaker, though. He filled the time really well, but he could have gotten the essentials in less time.

The final session of my day was "Lacking Tracking? Stop Slacking!, an introduction to Google Tag Manager. There's not much to say about this session other than that it was packed with really useful information. I intend to propose a lot of new tag-based tracking on the VA-MD website when I get back!

The evening wrapped up with a reception in the Live Arts theater. There was good (and free!) food and a couple of mini events that I didn't attend, but the highlight was the "Teacup Cabaret." It was an hour or so of entertainment featuring comedy, music, juggling, and two outstanding aerialists. The aerialists performed on strips of cloth hanging from the stage rigging, climbing up them and suspending themselves in a variety of creative and physically impressive ways. If you've ever seen Cirque de Soleil, you probably saw this kind of acrobatics. Amazing!

I was excited to learn so much about design and development that is directly actionable in my day-to-day work. I look forward to much more of the same on Day 2!