Notes from Collaborate 13

Last week was a bit of a whirlwind.

I spent Sunday through Wednesday in Denver attending Collaborate 13 and then jetted to the Bay Area to speak at a new hire bootcamp on Thursday.

As always, Collaborate 13 was a great chance to catch up with people I only see a couple times a year, if not less often, as well as a chance to meet new people and people I know only from online personas.

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Aside from that, I got a chance to see the Applications User Experience team in action with customers, including the onsite usability lab and the eye-tracking demo, as well as the usual sessions.

I got a chance to test out the eye-tracker, made by Tobii, at the AUX demo booth. Thanks to John Rogers for walking me through the demo, which involved calibrating the IR sensors and then answering basic questions by looking at a demo page, e.g. who is a person’s manager based on a profile page.

After finishing the questions, I got to see the path my eyes took and the aggregated data of all the people who had participated. The aggregation of data points was incredibly interesting, as it begins to show patterns in your software, both good and bad.

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Here’s a quick video of John walking me through the results.

I love stuff like this and the usability labs because they produce hard numbers to compare to assertions.

The Tobii is a neat little gadget. The naked eye can’t see the IR sensors, but my phone’s camera picked them up, which nicely personifies the little guy into a friendly robot or something.

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After leaving Collaborate, I went to HQ to sit on a panel about “User Experience and Breaking the Status Quo.” Panel is a stretch, since this was more a conversation on stage with several of my colleagues, all of whom know way more about user experience than I do. The only reason I was invited was to stir the pot, which I did happily.

Funny aside, during a recap, I heard that Jeff Smith (@thatjeffsmith), yes *that* one, had presented earlier in the week, something I wish I could have seen. Jeff would have enjoyed the way I figured out people were talking about him. They didn’t initially mention his name, but I figured it out by attributes alone.

Anyway, if you’re attending an Oracle-themed conference later this year, I highly recommend checking out the Apps UX activities, the eye-tracker, the usability labs, the sessions, at your show of choice.

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