That's a wrap
The Adaptive Path seminar presented some very interesting ideas on User Experience that both JLog and I hope to incorporate at ESPN.
The most immediately applicable thing I learned was how to establish how a user thinks about obtaining information or performing a task (a "mental model"), and then determining how the program functionality or information that currently exists (the "content model) meshes with the mental model. This is a subset of the discipline of Information Architecture, which is (a simplified definition here) the practice of determining how to optimally organize and present information so as to be contextually relevant.
Presenters Jeffrey Veen and Janice Fraser used the example of things someone would do when thinking about remodelling a kitchen: research products, design a floor plan, solicit bids, research contractors, ask friends for product and contractor referrals, etc. This information is gleaned from interviewing users and is used to look for pattens across the interviews to establish an average user's mental model of the information and tasks necessary to, say, remodel a kitchen.
The seminar easily held my interest, which is a testament to both the charisma and low-BS presentation styles of Fraser and Veen, as well as the overlap that Information Architecture has with my Psych and Comp. Sci. background.