I am so very excited to be telling you all that I’m going to the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Annual Convention on Wednesday! This will be my last convention as a University of Pittsburgh representative and graduate student. What better way to end my time than to go to Anaheim, CA! As I did last year, I will be covering the event each day with blogs/vlogs. Can’t wait!
Sunday was the first day of iFest at the iSchool and we had our TEC Conference. Before I go on… if you weren’t there, you missed out, buddy.
TEC stands for technology, entrepreneurship and creativity. This conference combined these ideas and created a space for LIS and IS students to think in innovative ways. Pretty much……..it was freakin’ awesome. I hate talks…and lectures…and seminars. But this was eye-opening and fun and sooooooo great. Let’s go through my day.
First, I hung out with my closest iSchool friends until 3AM, talking about life, so it started out like this:
……..exactly like this. But, I rolled out of bed at 8:45 and slowly got ready in the 30 minutes I gave myself (Sleep > Food+Beauty), met with Angela, and drove to the iSchool.
The event kicked off with Dean Larsen giving us the introduction to the iSchool. I always enjoy hearing the story, particularly because it mentions ideas coming together in a bar. Not to mention, Dean Larsen is an awesome speaker who can talk about anything impromptu and get back to his prearranged speech with such ease.
After the dean welcomed us, he gave the mic to our keynote speaker, Josh Sager. Josh is my inspiration for all of the gifs and visuals in this blog entry because that’s exactly how his talk went. He was so funny, entertaining, and had a great message about creative tinkering. I don’t want to write TOO much, so I’ll just hit you with the lessons learned: Don’t be afraid to work on ideas. Practice, do side projects that interest you, and learn from others. Doing these things will expand your knowledge, fill the gap between your skills and your personal expected quality of work, and open new worlds and opportunities you never dreamed of having. Your dream job doesn’t exist? Create it.
John Mahood, ImageBox
John was a pretty nice guy and wanted to make this talk more interactive, so he spoke to us about what we were all working on. I wish I wasn’t so shy because I was DYIIIIIIIINNNNG to talk to him. I wanted to tell him that I’ve been into visual and performing arts for YEARS and I couldn’t focus on one skill to be the starting point of my future entrepreneurship. When he talked about his life and how he came about creating ImageBox, the only thing I could think was, “OMG I WANNA DO THAT!!” John was interested in a lot of visual art, took as many computer and art classes he could, and began designing logos or whatever anyone needed. After years, ImageBox became a reality and his company grew to the awesome business it is now! My favorite part of the talk was when he said he wanted to impact the businesses that he served. So, a lot of his work is with small businesses who need a designer to enhance and assist in their success. I’ve always wanted to start a productions business and use my skills to help others realize their dreams, so I was so excited to hear John express the way in which he used his talents to change lives.
6 P’s (in the design business – what you need, what you provide the client):
1) Problem 2) Product/Service/Solution/Features/Benefits 3) Proof: Portfolio, Case Studies, Testimonials 4) Price/Fit 5) Process 6) Personality
Build a portfolio. Start a blog. Set an hourly rate for yourself (how much do you think you deserve for your skills?).
John hosts monthly design meet-ups in Pittsburgh. 2nd Tuesdays at 7pm, I believe?
Lunch with Les Gies, TechShop
Angela and I were being semi-antisocial…mainly my fault…because I still looked like this:
You like that cat meme? That was for my LIS friends 🙂 Anyway! Because I was still cranky, we sat at a table by ourselves. After awhile, Les Gies chose to sit at our table. I made the right decision to finally be social and ask how his presentation went. I wanted to see him talk about TechShop, but it was during John’s session. Basically, there is a shop in Pittsburgh (and other locations around the country) where you can use machinery, like 3D printing…and other stuff (my brain stopped at 3D printing because I was soooo amazed after a Vice documentary I saw about it). It’s ran like a gym. You pay membership, you use equipment. They also offer classes on how to use the equipment. I loved this for 3 reasons: 1) This idea was built in CA out of a need to easily access tools and wanting to share this opportunity with the public. 2) I’ve been soooo wanting to do woodshop projects again, but I haven’t seen equipment since my HS engineering class in 2005 and I didn’t know where I’d find it again. BUT NOW I KNOW. 3) I can go and ask for a tour of TechShop whenever I want! Bonus) It closes at midnight EVERYDAY. Last minute project? Challenge Accepted.
In summary, this is awesome and I’ll be doing a tour…and possibly learning how to do 3D printing.
Traci Thomas and Becca Serr, MAYA Design
These two amazing ladies told me what it was like to work in human-centered design. I can end it right there by saying: I. Drooled. Traci and Becca work in the human sciences team, so they’re more so focused on going out and researching the user for their design. I’m a people person and I have a psychology degree, so this was right up my alley. But what made it even better was that they have visual design and engineering teams as well. This gives them the opportunity to work and see different viewpoints of a design and watch it come to life. I had NO idea that they even helped design my.pitt.edu! They showed us the suggested design and it was so interesting to see the similarities on the Pitt intranet compared to their presentation. A part of their session was a design activity using a creative matrix. We had to come up with ways to make Pittsburgh a better city. Becca and Traci asked us to individually write ideas on a sticky note and place them in a section (drawings HIGHLY suggested). The sections were categorized by certain aspects of improving the city and by how we could enhance those aspects (see below for a picture of the matrix). The activity was great because I got to experience a way that MAYA employees design. It also opened my eyes to how much of a necessity design is to the quality of everyday life. For example, they are working on a project dealing with food deserts in the city and how to alleviate the issue. Community enhancing? Changing lives? YES.
Lessons Learned: 1) I need to find a MAYA equivalent in Washington, D.C. 2) I immediately looked for internships and there’s one in Visual Design and another in Human Sciences. 3) I feel like I need a better explanation of their food desert project. It’s called Food Oasis. Check it out.
Josh Sager, Smith Brothers
My day ended how it began, with awesome Josh. Only this time, I was in an HTML 5 and CSS3 workshop. I DESPERATELY needed this because my knowledge is super minimal. All I can really say is that he gave us so many cool resources for editing and learning HTML/CSS from the basics, to cross-browser issues, to animation.
I was SO unknowledgeable about these things. The pic to the bottom left is totally how I felt by this point. The Pinocchio Paradox is just a bonus. I randomly came across that while I was looking for a “mind blown” gif. And my mind is now blown, again. Talk about ruining my childhood. ANYWAY!
My takeaway/list of resources: SASS, Can I Use, Google Canary, Modernizr, Polyfill, HTML5 Boilerplate, Code School, Code Academy (I knew that one!), Sublime Text, Refresh Pittsburgh, CodePen, and A Book Apart.
Lesson learned: I need to read more books and code more for fun. Creative tinkering wins again!
At 4:30pm, I felt motivated and rejuvenated. I think THIS is what I’ve been waiting for. I knew I was in the right field, but I didn’t feel excited about it. I went to classes, learned what I needed to learn, felt a little accomplishment. I felt like something was missing. But, by then end of the TEC Conference, and Angela can attest to this, I looked like this:
I finally affirmed what I want to do with my MSIS degree. I finally knew why I am taking class and why I’m doing what I’m doing. I want to be creative; I want to design ways to impact lives for the better.
It feels so good to know! It feels even better to see that there’s successful people out there, happily living the dream that I have for myself! Ahhhhh such an awesome day!
My next moves: Building my personal website and portfolio. Start learning more web development/design languages and techniques. Go to tech meet-ups. Buy more books.
Relating it back to my observations of the iSchool:
Shout out to Angela for finding a relation to her track (Archives) in everything that she learned. While it seemed more of an IS day to me, she asked questions to each of the presenters that broadened my opinion of how LIS plays into design and technical work. I think that goes back to Josh Sager talking about creating your own place if there isn’t one (or if it’s not simple to find). I saw a lot of IS students and I think this conference would’ve influenced and benefited the LIS students as well. Sometimes, you just might find a gem where you least expect it. Here’s a random Brainy Quote about gems that I think relates:
There are little gems all around us that can hold glimmers of inspiration. – Richelle Mead
Take advantage of everything the iSchool has to offer. Even I’m thinking about using the elective I have next year to take an LIS course! Don’t be afraid to go out and experience things that seem like they aren’t geared toward you. Who knows what glimmers of inspiration that could catch your eye!
Other awesome workshops/sessions I didn’t get to attend:
- Terry Clark, Terry Clark Photography: Creativity and Small Business
- James McGee, MD & William McIvor, MD: Technology-enabled Learning – Simulations in Medical Education
- Dmitriy Babichenko, University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences: Working with Arduino
If I get more info about these sessions, I’ll be glad to share!
The few pics I got from the day:
What was the one experience that completely changed your life? What happened? How did it change your life?
I was a little unsure about what I wanted to write about today, so I chose to let WordPress guide me. I pressed the “Inspire Me” link and it posed the question above. Though I would normally press the back button and try again, for whatever reason, I am going to indulge in this cliche, cheezy topic of that one experience that has completely changed my life.
That experience was quitting my job to spend the summer before beginning my MLIS at Pitt, taking care of my grandmother. I could write this in a sentimental, touching way, but I am going to stick with the practical. I had been admitted to Pitt’s MLIS program, and could quit my job whenever I pleased; anytime from April to August. Of course there were financial pros and cons, but more importantly, there were personal well being pros and cons. I decided to compromise, spend a two months more at my job, and the rest of that time with my grandmother. I hadn’t seen her in years, and it was a great time. I think back on my time living with her, in a rural area, in a much calmer environment, and it brings everything back into perspective.
I come to these thoughts when I get too tied up in all of the issues of archives, libraries, information, etc. When I need a breather from the stresses of graduate studies, work, and internships, I think back to what it means to work with other interested people in archives, libraries, and companies. I come back to the thought that the person or persons behind that intriguing journal article that I’m reading for class is also working with these theories and methodologies, and just trying to improve our field. That inspirational moment for me was revisiting the practical, by getting back to the basics with my grandmother.