My upcoming World Usability Day talk

Next Thursday is World Usability Day, a distributed event that will happen in lots of places. One of them is Putney, Vermont, not far from my home, where I’ll be speaking at the New England venue, Landmark College.

The program says:

A description of Jon’s talk is forthcoming, but we’ve asked him to help the audience further their thinking about the potential of video on the web in support of teaching and learning, as well as the the importance of the structure behind the information with which we all work, exemplified by his work on compiling disparate web resources, as in his work on Keene-related events culled from the internet and viewable at

Great suggestions! Video and structured data are very different domains. That creates a nice opportunity to talk about key underlying principles, and relate them to the practices of teaching and learning. So, here’s the blurb.

Title: Teaching users to be more usable teachers

Technologists and designers, including those who self-identify as usability professionals, think of themselves as creators of products and services for “the user” or “the consumer”. But as Eric von Hippel argues in Democratizing Innovation, producers and consumers are not, and never have been, distinct groups. At various times and in various contexts, we are all producers and consumers, teachers and learners, co-creators of products, services, experience, and knowledge.

We learn by imitating how good teachers think and act. Conversely, good teachers think and act in ways that inspire and reward imitation. In the era of peer production on peer networks, we can all be better teachers — more usable teachers — by thinking and behaving in ways that others can imitate easily and effectively. From this perspective, online video and structured data aren’t just new ways to distribute entertainment and information. They’re new environments for teaching and learning. Engineers and designers aren’t solely responsible for make these environments usable. We, the inhabitants, must make ourselves usable too.

This is going to be fun!

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