Here are 3 lightning talks about innovation, emerging tech, and voice design from NICAR 2018 (with slides)

Last week I spoke on a panel titled “How emerging technologies can aid your storytelling,” alongside Padraic Cassidy, Simon Rogers, and Emily Withrow, and moderated by Marc Lavallee. We each gave lightning talk-style presentations around three major themes: which emerging tools we’re using and excited about, why it’s worth making the case for experimentation, and how to incorporate experimentation into your workflow and user experience. 

My lightning talks are shared below. Enjoy!

Innovating on a Legacy Platform

Innovation tends to evoke new products, interactions, or interfaces. What usually does not come to mind are monolithic, existing infrastructures that are already in use. At Vox Media, that existing infrastructure, some of our oldest technology, is our content management system, called Chorus.

Chorus is an incredible tool, but it’s also a heavy, workhorse CMS where innovation is difficult. This talk walks through how our teams still found opportunities to experiment and make bets while working within the confines of our legacy CMS.


Designing for a New Interface

While on Vox Media’s innovation team, I designed a voice bot without having worked with voice before. This talk shares the three things I took away from that experience that will help you the next time you’re faced with designing—or conceiving or developing—a new interface.


Lessons from Alpha (our short-lived-but-quite-informative innovation team)

A few years ago, I led design on Vox Media’s first-ever innovation team called Alpha. Alpha was short-lived and eventually sunsetted, but it made an impression that long outlasted its actual run time at the company. Even now, we still talk about Alpha on the product team—in fairness, we mostly talk about what we’d do differently, but we also recognize Alpha’s strengths and what we can take away and apply to our product teams moving forward.

This final talk details my takeaways from my time on Alpha. I hope these tips will help you if you are considering pursuing more experimental projects or even spinning up an innovation team.