This Year’s Keynote Speakers

Dan Roam
Keynote Speaker

Dan Roam

Dan Roam is the founder of Digital Roam Inc., a management consulting company that helps business executives solve complex problems through visual thinking. His business book, The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, has become an international bestseller.

Through consulting projects and lectures, Dan has used his unique visual thinking approach to resolve challenges at Microsoft, Wal-Mart, eBay, Wells Fargo, Infosys Consulting, The Thomson Corporation, Peet's Coffee & Tea, the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the US Navy, among many others.

Dan discovered the power of pictures as a business problem-solving tool in the late 1980's when he founded the first marketing communications company in the (then) Soviet Union. With no Russian language skills, Dan quickly realized that his business pictures transcended the language barrier. Ever since that eye-opening experience, Dan has been fine-tuning the visual thinking tools he introduces in The Back of the Napkin.

Dan received two degrees at the University of California, Santa Cruz: one in fine art and the second in biology. This combination of art and science began Dan's cross-disciplinary approach to problem solving that is the backbone of his work and lectures. Dan is also a licensed pilot, a skill that demands constant practice in understanding visual information displays. Dan has applied his business-oriented visual thinking skills while living and working in Switzerland, Russia, Thailand, France, Holland, and the US. He lives in San Francisco.

Richard Saul Wurman
Keynote Speaker

Richard Saul Wurman

Spurred by the dance between his curiosity and ignorance, Richard Saul Wurman has sought ways to make the complex clear. He has now written, designed and published 82 books on topics ranging from football to health care to city guides, but he likes to say that they all spring from the same place – his ignorance.

Described by Fortune magazine as an “intellectual hedonist with a “hummingbird mind,” Wurman has been shaped by an epiphany had as a young man: ignorance and embracing the understanding of what it is like to not understand.

Wurman’s first book, published when he was 26, featured models of 50 world cities on a uniform scale. Wurman’s latest book is called 33: Understanding Change & the Change in Understanding. It chronicles the adventures and musings of an eccentric (yet oddly familiar) character: the Commissioner of Curiosity and Imagination. The bemused, amused, and roundish imp waddles through the city of What-If in the land of Could-Be, trying to make sense of the myriad changes that have transpired in the past 33 years.

Wurman created the ACCESS city guides, using graphics and logical editorial organization to make places such as New York, Tokyo and Rome understandable to visitors. Other volumes he created focus on topics such as baseball, football and the 1984 Olympics. His road atlases employed similar techniques to elucidate U.S. geography and transportation networks.

Wurman created the TED conference in 1984, bringing together many of America’s clearest thinkers in the fields of technology, entertainment and design. He also created the eg Conference and continues to co-chair the annual TEDMED meetings. He chaired the IDCA Conference in 1972, the First Federal Design assembly in 1973 and the annual AIA Conference in 1976.

He has been awarded several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Graham Fellowships and two Chandler Fellowships. He was awarded IA Fellow in 1976, and ADC Hall of Fame in 2003, the AIGA Gold Medal in 2004 and the Chrysler Design Award in 1996. In 1991, Richard Saul Wurman received the Kevin Lynch Award from MIT for his creation of the ACCESS travel guides and was honored by a retrospective exhibition of his work at the AXIS Design Gallery in Tokyo. He was awarded a Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Boston. In 1958 he was a member of the initial year of exploration and mapping of Tikal, Guatemala. Several of his books are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

With the majority of the earth’s population now living in cities, Wurman realized there was a yawning information gap about the urban super centers that increasingly are driving modern culture. It was a familiar equation: Information gap + restless intellect = Wurman project. 19.20.21. is an attempt to standardize a methodology to understand comparative data on 19 cities that will have 20 million or more inhabitants in the 21st century.

Wurman lives in Newport, RI with his wife, novelist Gloria Nagy, and their three biblical yellow labs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Whitney Hess
Plenary Speaker

Whitney Hess

Whitney Hess is a user experience design consultant based in New York City. She helps make stuff easy and pleasurable to use.

Prior to going independent, Whitney was on the design team at Liquidnet, an international financial software company that runs the leading electronic marketplace for wholesale stock-trading. Previously, she was an interaction designer at two marketing agencies, Digitas and Tribal DDB, where her clients included American Express, The New York Times, Allstate, Claritin, Tropicana, and EarthLink. Most notably, she helped to conceive, design, and test an innovative card search tool for American Express, and is named as a co-inventor on its U.S. patent.

Though she began her higher education in computer science, Whitney received a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and a Master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University. For the Master’s capstone project, she was one of five HCI students to develop Roadcasting, a system that allows drivers to create and share their music playlists with other cars on the road. The project has received press from Wired, MIT Tech Review, Slashdot, BoingBoing, and more.

Whitney is a strategic partner with Happy Cog and user experience consultant for boxee, among other startups and major corporations. She writes about improving the human experience on her blog, Pleasure and Pain, and can pretty much always be reached on Twitter @whitneyhess.

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