Refresh Detroit - Part 5

Recap of Information Architecture Summit: March 26, 2024

Couldn’t make it to the tenth Information Architecture Summit in Memphis this year? Join fellow metro Detroit area information architects and web professionals for a recap of the 10th Information Architecture(IA) Summit on Thursday, March 26, 2024 at Wayne State University.

Organized by Wayne State University’s ASIS&T chapter, the recap will highlight key take-aways from the conference and discuss what you need to know as an information architect in today’s rapidly changing world.

Panelists include:

  • Peter Morville, president of Semantic Studios who presented a pre-conference session on IA 3.0 at the Summit.
  • Keith Instone, IBM information architecture, who helped to organize the Content Strategy consortium at the Summit.
  • Chris Farnum, Enlighten Senior Information Architect, who presented on remote user research at the Summit.
  • Heidi Blanton, Wayne State University Information Science student and President of the ASIS&T student chapter who attended the summit as a student volunteer.

Where: Kresge Library Auditorium, Wayne State University
When: Thursday, March 26, 11:00AM
Parking: Available at several garages on the WSU campus. For visitors, parking is $3.50 at the gate, quarters or dollar bills only.
If you are interested in attending please RSVP.

Meet and greet after the panel on the 3rd Floor of the Kresge Library, with refreshments.

Can’t attend the recap? Catch the live recording on UStream.

Book Review: Beginning Spring 2

The title of this book Beginning Spring 2: From Novice to Professional may be a bit misleading. I think if you are new to Spring and especially if you are new to Java frameworks in general, you would have a hard time with this book. This is not a how do you build a Spring application type book as I was expecting. After reading several chapters I still didn’t really know how to get started, and I have years of experience with Java and the Struts framework. The author does a fair job of explaining the benefits of StrutsSpring in a theoretical way, but the concrete examples seem disconnected and difficult to apply. There is no “Hello World” type example that explains how to get a simple Spring application up an running.

The book does contain some good examples once you are familiar with Spring, so this book may be more beneficial for experienced Spring developers. If you are a true beginner, this may not be the book for you.

  • Title: Beginning Spring 2: From Novice to Professional
  • Author: Dave Minter
  • Publisher: Apress
  • ISBN: 1590596854
  • Date: 2007
  • Format: Softcover
  • Pages: 271
  • Cover Price: USD: $39.99

March Meeting: Noel Jackson - Transitioning from Print to Web Design

Join us on Wednesday, March 25, 2024 when Noel Jackson of Automattic, Inc. (known for their WordPress and Akismet projects) will discuss the differences between print and web design.

What separates print and web in the design community? What do designers need to know to bridge the gap between print and the web? What constraints do web designers need to understand?

We’re thrilled that Noel will be presenting our first “design-focused” topic at Refresh Detroit!

Noel will discuss:

  • The differences between print and web design.
  • What should you be concerned about, and what should the browser deal with?
  • Pixel perfection: Legend or fallacy?
  • Color profiles, your screen vs. theirs.
  • Variables introduced by machine and human that make web design a unique mix of science and art.

Noel Jackson is an ubergeek, designer, and developer. Pulled from the depths of freelance design, he now works for Automattic, Inc. He loves the internet and dreams in HTML quite frequently. A self-proclaimed polymath, Noel was once a secret agent, fashion photographer, and ran a successful post-production studio in NYC.

When not pushing pixels and babbling about regexes, he’s probably listening to music (300 LPs and 250 gigs in all), DJing, or creating something (generative art is a favorite as of late). He lives in Detroit with his beautiful wife Stephanie, a fish named Hiro, and a chinchilla named Elvis.

Where: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan. We will be meeting in Room 150 at the Morris Lawrence Building (map). Plenty of free parking is available adjacent to the building.

When: Wednesday, March 25, 2009, 6:30pm to 8:30pm

Cost: Free! Open to the public.


Our apologies. We hoped to have a live stream of the meeting, but the UStream connection kept dropping. The meeting is being recorded and we’ll post the recording of the meeting later.

Refresh Detroit Recognized as “One of the Best Tech Events”

It was an honor to see Refresh Detroit mentioned in a recent blog post by AdaptiveBlue as “One of the Best Tech Events in the US”. Two other events in the Detroit area were mentioned including the Detroit Startup Weekend and the Ann Arbor TECH cocktail. Of course we know there are many other great events in the Detroit area, if you have more to share please do so in the comments here.

Those of us who participate in meetups and groups such as Refresh Detroit do so for many different reasons. We enjoy networking, continuing education opportunities, or sharing our knowledge with like minded individuals. What other things draw you to groups such as this? We’d like to know not only how to stay current and relevant to you, but how to stay “one of the best” in this area!

If you’re interested in finding more great events in the Detroit area, here’s a short list of resources to start with:

We hope to see you at our next event!

February 17 Meeting: Freelance Legal Issues

Are you a web professional interested in learning more about the legal side of the freelance business? Join Refresh Detroit on February 17, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at Wayne State University, for an interactive discussion led by an attorney who has provided web professionals in Michigan with legal services ranging from drafting contracts to organizing their businesses.

We encourage all web developers and business owners to join in the discussion with fellow attendees, so bring any insights or questions you have on the freelance business that you would like to talk about.

  • Where: Wayne State University Law School, 471 W. Palmer Street, Detroit, MI 48202 (directions) Room 2103, The Distance Learning Room. (University map)
  • Date: Tuesday, February 17
  • Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm
  • Cost: Free. The event is free, but should you choose to park at Wayne State, the cost is $3.50 for guests.

Topics Include:

  • Incorporation vs. sole proprietorship - What are the liability and taxation issues? What cost is involved? What are articles of incorporation?
  • Proposals, contracts, statement of work (SOW) - What do they mean? Why should web professionals care?
  • Non-compete clauses - Should you sign one? What are your rights?
  • Breach of contract - How can you defend yourself, or collect on damages against you?
  • Whatever issues you would like to talk about. Participation is encouraged!

Our Speaker: Mary Novrocki

Mary Novrocki is the sole attorney and owner of the Law Office of Mary Novrocki, P.L.L.C, in Plymouth Michigan. As a general practitioner of law, Mary has provided web professionals in Michigan with legal services for organizing businesses, contracts, statements of work, and other business related legal issues.

Please comment if you plan to attend. Thank you!

Introduction to Usability: An Interactive Discussion, February 10, 2024

On Tuesday, February 10, 2009, from 6:00pm to 8:30pm, the Michigan Usability Professionals’ Association will host Introduction to Usability: An Interactive Discussion at Quicken Loans in Livonia, Michigan.

Interested in learning the basics and benefits of user-centered design and how to introduce it into your organization? This is the event you want to attend!

Mike Beasley, the president of the Michigan UPA, and Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus, owner and principal of UsableWorld, will lead the discussion. Learn about:

  • What is usability? Can you touch it? Can you measure it?
  • How can you incorporate it into your organization?
  • “Usability,” “User Experience,” “Human Factors,” “Information Architecture?” What do these words and phrases mean?
  • What can my website analytics tell me about the usability of my site?
  • How can you use user tasks and goals to organize your website?

Food and networking begins at 6:00pm, program at 7:00pm.

The introduction to the basics of usability will be followed by a Q&A session. Audience members will set the agenda for this discussion through the questions you bring, so come prepared!

Location: Quicken Loans, 20255 Victor Parkway, Livonia, MI 48152 (map)

Directions: Exit 7 Mile East from I-275. North on Victors Parkway from 7 Mile. At the Quicken Loans building, enter main door, go to 3rd floor, meeting will be in the “Puerto Rico Room”

Cost: $10 for MIUPA members, $5 for full-time non-working students, $15 for all others

RSVP via email

Internet User Experience 2009 - March 30 - April 3, 2024

Interested in attending a web-focused conference in southeastern Michigan with top industry speakers, practitioners, and authors? Looking for a complete package of Internet user experience design training, case studies, and real-world examples?

Join us at the fifth annual Internet User Experience 2009 at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan the week of March 30, 2024 to April 3, 2009.

Organized by the Michigan Usabiity Professionals Association , the conference promises a week of keynote presentations, panels, training sessions, and tutorials on developing effective, compelling and profitable websites for businesses.

I’ve attended the event three of the five years, and really enjoyed meeting fellow web professionals from Michigan and outside of our state.

The conference is invaluable for

  • company website managers and stakeholders
  • product managers
  • marketing professionals
  • advertising professionals
  • web developers
  • web designers
  • user experience professionals
  • information architects
  • professional communicators
  • students in any program

Experts in user experience design, online branding, mobile design, field research, effective web writing, and social media will lead sessions at the conference.

Tutorials are also available to attendees with 1/2 day and full-day workshops before and after the main conference days.

Discounts are available for Usability Professionals Association members and several other organizations, as well as full-time non-working students.

The event will be held at the Morris Lawrence Auditorium at Washtenaw Community Colllege (map).

Registration is open at Internet User Experience conference website. Register before March 10 and receive a free copy of Susan Weinschenk’s new book, “Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?”

Social Media Panel Discussion - Great Success!

Four local experts, a roomful of web workers, business professionals, and nonprofit leaders with great questions, and a super moderator resulted in an exciting, fast-paced discussion on social media on Wednesday, January 21, 2024 at Washtenaw Community College.

Thanks to Nick DeNardis, Shauna Nicholson, Kevin Krason, and Ken Burbary for accepting our invitation to talk, debate, and share their personal stories about social media. We’re grateful to Chad Wiebesick for moderating our panel. We hope you all consider coming back to speak again!

Social Media Discussion panel

Thanks to Adrian Pittman for the discussion panel photos.

There were lots of resources mentioned by the panelists during the discussion, we’ve listed some below. Feel free to add to the list!

Thanks to Vince Chmielewski for recording the discussion; look for the podcast to be posted soon!


Social media sites
Ning - create and share a social network
Sermo - online forums for physicians

Social media news
Chris Brogan

Tools to track what people are saying about you/your organization
Google alerts
Google blog search
Radian6 Monitoring
Techrigy Social Media Monitoring
Twitter search
Yahoo Social Media Firehose

URL shortening tools
Cligs - URL shortening with analytics
BudURL - URL shortening with analytics

More social media links
Common Craft great free video tutorial on social media (as well as many other free videos)
Get Satisfaction - real online conversations with customer service
Google Insights Search - analyzes Google web searches for the terms entered
Intense Debate - distributed commenting across multiple conversations
Zappos - good example of company using social media

Social Media Panel Discussion: January 21, 2024

Join Refresh Detroit on Wednesday, January 21, 2024 for an interactive panel discussion featuring local experts in the forefront of social media and marketing. Learn about the opportunities social media brings for individuals, companies, and social causes. Find out how to use social media to

  • engage your customers
  • grow your career or business
  • drive social change
  • and more

The panel will be moderated by Chad Wiebesick, Interactive Strategy Director at Perich Advertising + Design. Chad leads the agency’s interactive media assignments. He is a published writer and frequently blogs about interactive marketing topics. In August 2008 his article about digital marketing was published in Website Magazine.


  • Kevin Krason, President, Biznet Internet Solutions
    Founder of Biznet in 1994, Kevin’s strong leadership and business savvy have led Biznet to become one of the most successful web development companies in Michigan. Kevin’s skill at getting everyone on the same page has been instrumental for Biznet in establishing long term client partnerships.
  • Shauna Nicholson, Marketing Manager, Biznet Internet Solutions
    Working exclusively in online marketing strategy, Shauna is known for her insight on social media marketing, Shauna is a resource for metro-Detroit businesses who want to leverage the most powerful online tools available. By transcending the social media hype and pairing reality-based business and marketing strategy to the tools, she positions clients to effectively secure measurable ROI.
  • Ken Burbary, VP Digital at BIG Communications
    Ken has been involved in web development and interactive media his entire professional career. Constantly learning, he soaks up as many new pieces of information as possible. He’s equally passionate about both business and technology innovations driving his industry.
  • Nick DeNardis, Associate Director of Web Communications at Wayne State University
    Nick oversees a staff of eight dedicated to web communications at Wayne State. He has initiated and maintains all of the university’s current social media initiatives. He hosts the video blog EDU Checkup where he reviews a higher education web sites live. Nick is also a .eduGuru writer and an active member of the higher education web community.

Where: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan. We will be meeting in Room 121 at the Morris Lawrence Building (map). Plenty of free parking is available adjacent to the building.

When: Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 6:30pm to 8:30pm

Cost: Free! Open to the public.

Please comment below if you plan to attend. Thanks!

Tagging: People Powered Metadata for the Social Web

Author, Gene Smith begins this book with a quote by Jon Udell, “When the novelty wears off, I think that tagging will have altered the information landscape in a fundamental way.” The original quote was first published in an InfoWorld article, titled Tag Mania Sweeps the Web, in 2005. I believe there is a lot of truth to the original quote, now in 2009, tagging is common in sites like Flickr or Delicious, and it seems nearly every new web application has some form of social tagging included. For students of Library and Information Science (like myself) this is indeed an important topic because it surely has “altered the information landscape - but thankfully this debate, which is better left in the LIS classroom, is not in Gene Smith’s book and instead he gives the reader a clear overview and practical guide of what tagging is and examples of how it is used in the context of web development.

Gene Smith is a principal at the company nForm, a user experience consulting firm in Edmonton, Canada. According to Smith’s personal website, Atomiq, the company is devoted to making their clients’ websites and interactive software better for the end users by doing customer research, information architecture, and creating effective prototypes. Smith’s interest in tagging (and the discussion that lead to the semantics) began in 2004 when he asked a simple question to the Information Architecture Institute mailing list inquiring whether there was a name for this type of user classification. He explains in the introduction that this book is a guide to the what and how (and sometimes why) of tagging, using real-world examples based on his research.

Smith explains that this is not a philosophical discussion of why people tag but more of a practical guide to what it is and how information architects, developers, and designers can implement tagging into their own websites. It is a comprehensive overview starting with the definition and value of tagging. The technical aspects of this book include a chapter on the architecture and technical design, but Smith did not overlook what tagging is at its core - that is, metadata which is also used as navigational elements in websites. The information architecture aspect of tagging is presented in a chapter devoted to interface design.

The book is structured very concisely with a simple and clear writing style. The chapters are arranged by topic and with many examples of screenshots, tables, and some sample code. Information is easy to find and practical. I believe the simple outline style of the book is a benefit, as with many subjects devoted to technology, the topic will likely evolve and change, while many of the websites will be redesigned in time so the screenshots will help the reader become oriented with the topics more easily.

At the moment, Smith’s book is the only definitive and clear guide to tagging available. Many recent publications discuss tagging in the context of Web 2.0 (for example, Joshua Porter’s, Designing for the Social Web, or Clay Shirky’s book, Here Comes Everybody: the Power of Organizing without Organizations) but they are not devoted entirely to tagging. There have been a few studies devoted to the practice of tagging, but Smith did not set out to write a book about user motivations for tagging, so his overview stands alone when compared to other literature on this topic. One criticism of the book though is that it does not have a convenient set of resources or links available for reference or further reading. Web links are included, but within the text, which makes it difficult to find a website easily if a reader wanted to refer to it again later.

Information architects are interested in how information is structured on a website, and as Smith puts it, are often tasked with developing organization schemes that work for a diverse population of users (p. 13). This underlines the importance of an understanding in tagging systems to information architects as they need to be aware of how users of a website are to find information while they are there. While tagging is not the only method IAs have for employing a classification or navigation system to a website, if the opportunity warrants itself for use in a such a system, it should be of interest for them understand how tagging can be used and engaged.

Smith’s book is recommended for information architects, web designers, and librarians who are interested in putting tagging into practice on their websites. The visualizations and concise outline make this book easy to read and refer to again. It is a practical guide for anybody who is unfamiliar with how tagging works and would like to know more.

  • Title: Tagging: People Powered Metadata for the Social Web
  • Author: Gene Smith
  • Publisher: New Riders
  • ISBN: 9780321529176
  • Date: 2008
  • Format: Softcover
  • Pages: 208
  • Cover Price: USD: $39.99

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