While hunting for artwork to decorate my new office, I came across the “Drive-thru Gallery” by Thomas Barbéy (see Figure 1). I was immediately drawn to it. Several of Barbéy’s photomontages (created without any editing software!) now adorn the walls of the office reception area and manage to surprise me every time I walk by. These surreal images, together with their clever titles, inspire me to use my knowledge in new ways and apply it to new domains. My most recent obsession: the world of Big Data and the opportunities that it presents to UX and vice versa. (If The Human Face of Big Data by Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt is not on your coffee table yet, you should order it now.)
I’m not the only one in search of inspiration—that was quite apparent to me during UXPA’s annual conference in July (see Figure 2). The most raved about presentations didn’t discuss new tools or methods, nor did they reveal any breakthrough research findings. Rather, those speakers talked about things we already know, but in a way that revealed possibilities and made us pause and think differently about what we do. Katherine Campbell’s session titled “Afternoon at the Museum” was one of those talks that transported us somewhere else (to the Smithsonian Institute) to uncover an exciting area in need of our skills.