Usability and UX – are you a practitioner? How to hone my instincts?

My career has been veering for a couple of years now towards the squishy-but-satisfying creative arenas of Usability & UX (User Experience), and I’d like to make this an explicit career direction. That means (a) meeting other folks already practicing these disciplines, (b) learning how to behave more like them, and (c) sharing my experiences with any who are looking to learn from newer practitioners. I expect the full transition to take a number of years, but where I have creative freedom in my job to flex in these directions I’ll be taking advantage of every chance I get.
As for immediate changes:

  • I’m joining some local user groups here in Portland (PDX UX already, Chifoo and IxDA next)
  • I’ve been re-reading “Don’t Make Me Think” from my iPhone while commuting
  • I’ve bookmarked this discussion on Slashdot (! yes, ironic to find Linux geeks who can spell UX)

What’s next? Who should I be talking to? Where should I seek out like-minded folks? What should I be reading/doing/learning next?

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