Note: this article reflected my feelings on IA Summit at the time of attendance. As of 2018, I've learned of serious safety violations at the conference over many years. Please consider that when reading this, as my experience may not be typical. Until further notice, you should not attend the IA Conference (which is what IA Summit is now known as) or support the IA Foundation. – Ed.
I didn't expect it. How could anyone? A conference changed me in 2013. Yes, a conference. So while I've been an enormous booster of IA Summit, I wasn't expecting to have a similar experience in San Diego this year.
But I was wrong. IA Summit did change my life again. Truly.
Over the past day or so since my time at the conference ended, I've been reflecting on why this is. I've talked about it at length with my friends. And I think it boils down to this.
The talks are tremendous and diverse (the keynotes, in particular, are just stellar). The program is well-crafted and thoughtful. The venue and experience of the event is just about flawless. But in the end the people and the community are second to none.
I think about how attendees can go on stage at Five Minute Madness and feel comfortable and safe (!) enough to share their deepest feelings. I see how conversations run the gamut from taxonomy and emotion to design patterns and pie (yes, we talked pie). The energy of the entire conference is overwhelmingly positive, encouraging, and supportive. Flex track exists. Karaoke and game night exist. Yoga, 5K & 10Ks, and social events are plentiful. The keynote had yoga. THE KEYNOTE HAD YOGA.
Due in part to all of this, IA Summit offers that fertile ground. I can have life changing conversations with people. (LIFE CHANGING! FOR REAL!) I can approach parts of work in entirely new ways. I can get in front of a room full of strangers and sing "It's the End of the World As We Know It" without a lyric sheet. I can both see people for who they are and be seen for the person I am.
IA Summit gives people in this very special industry the chance to be themselves, fully. It is refreshing. It is true. I have not experienced this anywhere else. I do not expect to. Instead, I expect to attend this conference every year until I can no longer do so. It is my home, it is my tribe, it is my people.
I will miss all of you, stay in touch throughout the year, and see you again in Minneapolis... if not sooner.