Friday, 7 September 2007

dConstruct - Afternoon Session

More of the same in the afternoon sessions, with a very pleasant surprise at the end.

Cameron Moll (currently the Interaction Design Manager for the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, of all places!) had the graveyard shift, and he did his best to make his session as interesting as possible to keep everyone awake. One interesting comment was that, sometimes, design solutions can present themselves simply when the problem is described in the right way. Other than that, it was mostly a series of engaging anecdotes.

George Oates (Principle Designer at Flickr) & Denise Wilton (founder of b3ta, now working at moo) had a chat on the sofa about the growth of their web sites. The growth of b3ta was particularly interesting, given the techy audience; to get it started they experimented with what's now known as 'viral marketing'...back then it was called 'just mucking around'. This helped gather the momentum required to grow the community. Scruffy design made developers feel like they belonged.

Matt Webb (founding partner of Schulze and Webb) presented an A-Z about 'The Experience Stack'. Among other things, he touched on gameplay, where different games start in different ways (in at the deep end, tutorial, hand holding, etc.) each illiciting a different emotional response. The same lessons apply to web design. He also introduced us to the following wonderful quote:
"Design is the conscious and intuitive effort to impose meaningful order" - Victor Papanek
But the really nice surprise came at the end of the day. Tom Coates, who works in the Tech Development Group at Yahoo!, gave an informative and very entertaining talk on "Designing for a Web of Data". He urged us to think of our products not just as mere web sites. They can run everywhere the network reaches. Every service or piece of data we add to the environment has the potential to make everything else more powerful. 90% of activity on Twitter is from APIs. Take Flickr, the photos are on Moo cards, digital photo frames, desktop widgets, etc. Networked physical devices such as Nabaztag and the Ambient Orb also got a mention as did Wattson. All very thought provoking.

The biggest laugh, though, was for his description of Twitter: "Twitter is a way of accessing error messages on the web". This was the all-too-familiar screen shot...

And so that's the end of dConstruct for this year, a good time had by all. It was a pretty good event, although I think most of the important lessons can be learned by reading Alan Cooper's Inmates Are Running The Asylum.

We're now off to the pub. Barcamp tomorrow. Yay!

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