Ranch Stories

Speaker: Alan Cooper

What I’ve learned about UX Design from buying a farm.

Five years ago I sold my house in Silicon Valley and moved to an old farm deep in agricultural country. As a city boy, it was all new to me, but I was most surprised to discover how much the new lessons of farming paralleled the important lessons of interaction design. This talk will give you some useful insight into your job by presenting some remarkable insight into the farmer’s job.

Alan Cooper co-founded Cooper in 1992. He is widely known for his role in humanizing technology through his groundbreaking work in software design. He is also the author of the books About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design (editions 1-4) and The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity. Widely recognized as the “Father of Visual Basic,” Alan also created the goal-directed design methodology and invented personas as practical interaction design tools to create high-tech products that delight users’ sensibilities.

From Personal to Person-able

Speaker: Susan Kare

“Since computers are so smart, wouldn’t it make more sense to teach computers about people, instead of teaching people about computers?” – Apple Macintosh advertising c.1984

Join Susan Kare, artist and designer, as she discusses the processes and people, past and present, that have influenced and inspired her work in keeping humans at the center of design.  

Susan Kare is an artist and graphic designer who is best known for creating many of the interface elements for the Apple Macintosh in the 1980’s.

After graduating from New York University in 1978 with a Ph.D. in fine arts, she took a curatorial job at an art museum and quickly realized she was on the wrong side of the creative equation.

In 1982, she began work at Apple Computer designing fonts, icons and graphic elements for the nascent Macintosh operating system and applications. In 1986 she followed Steve Jobs to NeXT as its tenth employee and Creative Director.

She is the founding partner of Susan Kare Design, a graphic design practice in San Francisco in 1989. Since then she has designed thousands of icons, corporate identities and other design projects for hundreds of clients, including Microsoft’s Solitaire cards and Facebook’s virtual gifts. Since 2011 she has been creating limited edition fine art icon prints at

Currently she is a Lead Product Designer at Pinterest.

People in an AI Mindset

Speaker: Elizabeth Churchill

Human beings have long dreamt of mechanical beings with reflective consciousness. Dreams moved closer to reality moved after World War II, with significant advances in computing power and the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), defined by pioneer John McCarthy as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines”.

In this talk, following the theme of the summit–Designing for Humans–I will focus on the nature of “human” and “humanity”, and consider the different conceptions of those terms in the evolving agenda of contemporary AI by reference to two sister areas of investigation: augmented intelligence” (also called “intelligence amplification”), and “ambient intelligence”. I will reflect on examples from my own work, and consider the potential impact on information architecture as a discipline and field of expertise.

Dr. Elizabeth Churchill is a Director of User Experience at Google. Elizabeth’s field of study is Human Computer Interaction, and her current focus is on the design and development of connected devices and of developer tools for device ecosystems. 
Elizabeth has built research groups and led research in a number of well known companies, including eBay Research Labs, Yahoo!, and PARC.
Elizabeth is the current secretary/treasurer of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). She served as on the Executive Committee of the ACM’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI), for 8 years, 6 years of those as Executive Vice President. 
A Distinguished Scientist and Distinguished Speaker of the ACM and a member of the SIGCHI Academy, Elizabeth has worked in a number of research areas and has been successful at publishing, prototyping and patenting. She has more than 50 patents granted or pending, and over 100 publications in theoretical and applied psychology, cognitive science, human-computer interaction, mobile and ubiquitous computing, computer mediated communication and social media, and has co-authored or co-edited 6 books. Her most recent book, Designing with Data Improving the User Experience with A/B Testing, co-authored with Rochelle King and Caitlin Tan, will be published by O’Reilly in early 2017. 

Designing Calm Technology

Speaker: Amber Case

Our world is made of information that competes for our attention. What is needed? What is not? We cannot interact with our everyday life in the same way we interact with a desktop computer. The terms Calm Computing and Calm Technology were coined in 1995 by PARC Researchers Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown in reaction to the increasing complexities that information technologies were creating. Calm technology describes a state of technological maturity where a user’s primary task is not computing, but being human. The idea behind Calm Technology is to have smarter people, not things. Technology shouldn’t require all of our attention, just some of it, and only when necessary.

How can our devices take advantage of location, proximity and haptics to help improve our lives instead of get in the way? How can designers can make apps “ambient” while respecting privacy and security? This talk will cover how to use principles of Calm Technology to design the next generation of connected devices. We’ll look at notification styles, compressing information into other senses, and designing for the least amount of cognitive overhead.

Amber Case is a Research Fellow, MIT Media Lab/Center for Future Civic Media. She studies the interaction between humans and computers and how our relationship with information is changing the way cultures think, act, and understand their worlds. Case is currently a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and a research fellow at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media.

Case is the author of Calm Technology, Design for the Next Generation of Devices. She spoke about the future of the interface for SXSW 2012’s keynote address, and her TED talk, “We are all cyborgs now,” has been viewed over a million times. Named one of National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers, she’s been listed among Inc. Magazine’s 30 under 30 and featured among Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Technology. In 2008, Case founded CyborgCamp, an unconference on the future of humans and computers.

Case lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. She previously spent 11 years in Portland, Oregon where she was the co-founder and former CEO of Geoloqi, a location-based software company acquired by Esri in 2012. You can follow her on Twitter @caseorganic and learn more at

Closing Plenary

Speaker: Dan Klyn