Interacting with InterSections 07

Nico mailed me about what sounds like an excellent gathering in October: Intersections 07

“The conference chair is Jeremy Myerson, and sessions that have caught my attention include:

— ‘The challenges of design thinking’ with Tim Brown
— ‘Mission creep – The limits of design’ with James Woudhuysen
— ‘What is the new know-how in service design?’
— ‘From job to jobs: the rise of the polymath’ with Richard Seymour
— ‘The design toolbox for life experiences’ with Clive Grinyer
— ‘The social anthropology of design’ chaired by Deyan Sudjic with Richard Seymour, Peter Saville and John Thackara”

Nico himself is chairing a thread which sounds up-the-collective-streets of a lot of people I know:

The seminar sessions in my thread are ‘Designing interactions, media or experiences?’ with Daljit Singh of Digit London, Durrell Bishop of Lucky Bite, and Andy Altmann of Why Not Associates, and we will be asking ‘What do designers from different backgrounds and who are designing interactions to different ends, consider to be their core skills?’; and ‘Can good design be ‘co-created’?’ with Future Cities Project director Austin Williams and Joe Heapy of Engine, and we will be asking ‘What has design got to learn from the open-source software movement and ‘wiki-nomics’? and ‘While everyone is a designer, isn’t it the job of professional designers to champion good design?’.

I mailed Nico back (somewhat hastily) about the event, saying that it that occured to me is that it’s quite an “old school” event in some ways, compared to the emerging ‘unconference’ status quo in the tech world – i.e. It’s going to be established, well-known, vocal clever people on stage talking to (probably, mostly less-established) clever
people in the audience.

I wondered whether there might be opportunity for a fringe of ‘pecha-kucha’/’ignite‘-style open mic stuff?

Or some space and time for people to get together and make stuff, a little like the Hardcore-Hardware-Hacking weekend recently, or the interactionaries that have happened at various CHI events, or the design games that Jess McMullin writes about here.

I wonder if it might be possible to find a friendly bar in Newcastle/Gateshead to do a design barcamp? Perhaps along the lines of the “This Happened” night that was in London a little while ago?

Although – creating a Foo/BarCamp for designers might be a thankless task!

Mike Migurski has written a thoughful piece on just this quandry.

On second thoughts perhaps it would be nice to just sit, laptops shut, minds-open and listen to clever people in the nice surroundings of the Baltic Mills.

The “early-bird” rate is ending on the 31st July, so better make it snappy…

P.S.: entry for the event is here


Very strange dream last night.

A brick in the basement of the house I was living in was locked, relative to The Multiverse.

The brick had existed in all possible worlds, in the same relative position, all the time since it had been placed there.

Like a stone in a fast moving stream, its immovable object created eddies in the irresistible flow of space-time. Nothing that dramatic it seemed, just echoes of past and future conversations.

Also notably, a lot of kipple – things from the future that had become obsolete and consigned to the basement.

I'd had a lot of grilled cheese last night before bed.

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Continuous-Partial-Apology, originally uploaded by blackbeltjones.

I switched off everyone outside London at the beginning of the month, in what I now know to be the mistaken belief that the value I was deriving from Twitter was geographically-bounded.

I thought what was near me was signal, as often you could act on it. Y’know: “I’m in town and wondering if anyone wants coffee”

It turns out that nearly no-one I know is in town or wants coffee. It turns out – as so often through the twelve or so years of having a digitally-mediated social life – the noise is the signal.

In fact, the cross-time-zone river of mundanity is much missed in the new gig, where it feels a little wierd to be surrounded by mainly brits after such a long time in a multinational group of designers.

As much as I was convinced otherwise – and against previous experience of lists, forums and other digital communities – it’s as much the psychographic as the geographic, for me at least, with Twitter.

I guess the difference of these presence networks is that they can have the geographic so powerfully nestled at their core. It’s both/and not either/or.

So, I will go grovelling back to those I so swiftly removed a month ago and see if they will take me back…

Here begins the continuous partial apology…

Design is seedy

From the Seedcamp about pages:

“There will be a diverse mentor network of serial entrepreneurs, corporates, venture capitalists, recruiters, marketing specialists, lawyers and accountants that will help the selected teams put together the foundations of a viable business.”

How about designers?

Technology plays alone are starting to lose their distinctiveness in many of the more-crowded areas of the marketplace.

Great service and interaction design are on the rise as strategic differentiators for products as diverse as the iPhone and Facebook.

Bruce Nussbaum in BusinessWeek:

“Innovation is no longer just about new technology per se. It is about new models of organization. Design is no longer just about form anymore but is a method of thinking that can let you to see around corners. And the high tech breakthroughs that do count today are not about speed and performance but about collaboration, conversation and co-creation. That’s what Web 2.0 is all about.”

The article that’s taken from is entitled: “CEOs Must Be Designers, Not Just Hire Them”.

Not sure I agree about CEOs breaking out OmniGraffle, but what about entrepreneurs?

I wonder how many Seedcamp teams will have a interaction designer on board, as part of the core – or even a designer as the lead entrepreneur?

Are they going to bake great design in from the get-go, or put lipstick on their baby gorillas?

I think it will be the former.

If there’s one Brit caricature of the entrepreneur, it’s the inventor – the engineer/designer/impressario: Baylis, Dyson, Roope!

Nussbaum’s article, in bulk is a speech he gave at the RCA, which traditionally has grown quite a few of those designer/engineer/inventor/entrepreneurs in the world of atoms.

Prof Tom Barker‘s crew springs to mind, as do some of the graduates of the Design Interactions course.

The line between hackers and interaction designers is blurring as they start small businesses that are starting to make waves in the big business press.

As I mentioned, my experience of HackDay Europe was that

“It really does seem that the hacker crowd in London/Europe at least is crossing over more and more with the interaction design crowd, and a new school of developers is coming through who are starting to become excellent interaction designers – who really know their medium and have empathy with users.”

So I have high-hopes.

I’m also glad to say that the Seedcamp team are going to have user-researchers, usability experts and interaction designers in their mentor network, including me for some reason…

Looking forward to it.

Interesting reads

Russell busted me for not posting the books I promised many from the talk I gave at the Interesting2007 ‘happening’ he organised.

Jack, the lazy pulsar, even beat me to it.

I had in fact written it down, but only mailed it to Rebecca/Beeker, so here it is:

I probably didn’t mention all of them explicitly in the talk, but they’re definitely all forming the conceptual henge around it…

“We are boring”

Says John Riccitiello, the new CEO of Electronics Arts

“We’re boring people to death and making games that are harder and harder to play,”

The report by Om Malik goes onto say:

“EA and the video game industry at large has a massive problem: one that of attention. Video games are no longer the only game in town when it comes to digital entertainment. Riccitiello himself says the games are “at risk of being a little less interesting than Facebook and iPods and the next cool cellphone.”

I guess EA need to stop stripmining just one of the rhetorics (play as power), before the others are colonised…

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“Toys with system for the creators of tomorrow’s world”

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Vero Construc, originally uploaded by toxi.

Toxi found a manual for an East German construction toy:

‘This particular module contained a punch card/stripe reader to control lights and motors. A little nail to program it was supplied too.

The back cover is saying: “Toys with system for the creators of tomorrow’s world”‘