As the year draws to a close, looking back on 2008 I'm really thankful for the following things:
Unlike last year (when I snapped my right achilles tendon playing soccer), or 2005 (left Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction), or 2002 (cholesteatoma & radical mastoidectomy - left ear), this year has been one of steadily improving health and fitness. I've been going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week; walking more; sleeping more (generally 8 hours a night!); and eating much, much better. My weight is the same, but it seems that there's more in the right places, and less in the wrong.
My company - Meld Consulting - started up just over a year ago. Our first projects kicked off in January with some UX work carried over from my time at Red Square. I did some work on projects for oneworld Alliance (oneworld.com) and YHA Australia (yha.com.au), which I'd started in 2007. I was fortunate to do some UX/IA work for Andrew Morse at Digital Tsunami (multinail.com.au); and then did some usability/UX consulting work for Maersk Line (maerskline.com).
As the year progressed, things picked up: some work with Lisa Herrod at Scenario Seven; and then UX consulting work for the NSW Department of Education & Training. That work came in three parts: UX strategy & architecture for the Click technology guide for parents (http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/news/technology/index.php); then some UX & IA work for the DET Procurement unit; and then the major piece of work for the year - the UX strategy, stakeholder research, and UX design for the redesign of the DET Staff Intranet.
Most importantly, though, I've been busy. The work has been coming in steadily, with the occasional peak; and without any real troughs.
Writing & Talking
One of the things I really hoped to do this year was to write more. Last year I had a few articles published in UXMatters, which was great, but this blog was sorely neglected (only 16 posts, and none that were really memorable). I wanted this year to be different - for articles (of some substance) to appear both on UXMatters - which I did, four of them - and here, 32! some of which weren't totally trivial.
I also wanted to make a concerted effort to contribute to other people's writing, by posting comments to their articles and helping to further the discussion around their work. I haven't really been keeping track, but I know I've posted more comments this year than I have in the past.
I've also been privileged to be invited to present at two conferences during 2008: Web Directions UX '08 held in Melbourne in June; and Oz-IA 2008 held in Sydney in September. Two very different, but equally excellent conferences. I'm hoping I get a chance to speak at both again in 2009, but we'll have to wait and see.
I'm really thankful for what Twitter has contributed to my life this past year. And by 'Twitter' I mean the 350 people or so who communicate with me on a daily basis, and who have enriched my personal and professional life to such a large extent during the year. It really isn't possible to articulate what a difference this has made for me during the year - the innumerable conversations, comments, links, ideas, dialogue (in the Greek sense) that have helped me gain a much greater appreciation for this thing we do called User Experience.
I've also been most fortunate to get to know people around the world just a little bit better. To share, in some small part - and to be able to share - the more mundane, but much more important things that enrich our personal lives. I don't want to single people out, because that's not really the point.
Giving something back
2008 has been a very good year for me - both personally & professionally - and I've been lucky to have a few opportunities to give something back to the community and industry as a whole. Earlier in the year Meld was one of the sponsors of WebJam (webjam.com.au) and just recently one of three sponsors of Sydney's WebBlast end-of-year party (webblast.org).
I've been honoured and somewhat humbled (I'll be honest and say that humility in my case is a really relative concept) by being asked to provide feedback and input into other people's work. I can't express just what it means to be asked by a peer to assist them with their own projects; I just hope my small contribution repaid their faith in me.
Towards the end of November I posted a message to the IA Institute members list about an idea I'd had for a local group - a book club focused on User Experience books. The idea elicited quite a bit of interest and as we approach the year's end 31 local UX Book Clubs have been formed around the world, with some 450+ people signed up to attend. The Silicon Valley UX Book Club was the first to hold a meeting - on Dec 16 in Mountain View, California. I'm hoping we see a lot more of these in 2009.
None of that would have happened without the support and active contributions from a whole group of people - including the 30 people who volunteered to coordinate a book club in their city - but especially Russ Unger, Andrew Boyd, Will Evans and Livia Labate. These are amazing people, and not because they helped with the book club :)
And of course...
I wouldn't have been in anything like such a good position if it wasn't for the strong, steadfast, and unwavering love and support of my wife, Danielle. She is simply wonderful; I did well to marry her.
I hope 2008 has been a good year for you. More importantly, and regardless of what this year has been like, I hope 2009 is better. As this year draws to a close I'm already looking forward to what 2009 has to offer. I hope you are too.