Behind the scenes at TED2010. February 9-13, 2010, Long Beach, CA. Credit: TED / James Duncan Davidson
This week, we’re attending the TED2010 conference in Long Beach, the main event of the TED community. Under the theme “What the World Needs Now” the conference will gather 1,000 attendees and an impressive line-up of speakers, including David Byrne, Bill Gates, Sarah Silverman, and David Rockwell, among many others. Check back here for our thoughts and observations as the week unfolds.
While reflecting on the IxDA 2010 conference, I’m trying on various lenses of evaluation, and coming to a conclusion that the profession of Interaction Design is reaching an interesting and critical divide. The divide seems to break down around two forces of gravity, loosely identified as:
A. Design, as a discipline. A locus of study, similar to science or art in breadth and depth, and focused on criticism, behavioral change, craft, empathy, humanism, and reflection.
B. UX, as a form of applied design in the context of marketing, and focused on consumption, speed, innovation, and often, apparently, compromise.
When you spend any amount of time at the MIT Media Lab, you start to realize a few things:
1. You aren’t nearly as smart as you think you are.
2. Science and engineering research are leaps and bounds beyond commercialized products.
3. The geeks are begging for design. Literally.
I just spent a few days at the Tangible and Embedded Interactions Conference, and came to these realizations as I tried to synthesize lectures and demonstrations that included:
The pre-conference circular stated, "Think of TEDxAmsterdam as a theatre performance." That's exactly what it was; a day full of oration, music and emotion.
A grey but unseasonably warm November greeted the Mobile User Experience conference in London this week.
Richard Lewis of Orange made a persuasive case that Orange 'gets' the concept of User Experience at the highest levels of the company. They've adopted the motto: “Design the right thing before we design the thing right” and have come to terms with the notion that in this post-iPhone world, personalization and customization are in the customer's hands and not the operators. They view their work from a service ecosystem perspective and are moving from product centric to customer centric. Among other things this means removing irrelevant services and products from the customer's path. Now, for the crowning jewel, they think about the entire customer journey from 'become aware' to 'leave'. Yes, they want people who choose to leave Orange to have a pleasant experience doing so, in the hopes that they will consider coming back someday. To someone who has worked in UX on the operator side for years, the thinking isn't new. That it's been accepted at the highest levels of the company is only moderately new. Executives have jumped on to the UX train in droves post-iPhone, but not all of them understand there's more to it than sitting down for a comfy ride. They will need to survive the 'bright shiny object' syndrome and the 'we need something big for next month' demand. It takes vision, focus, and patience to get it right.
“For experience, when it is not communicated to another, must wither within and be worse than lost.”
— Norman Mailer
As described by Kurt Anderson, we've been living in the 80s for close to thirty years. We've taken a childlike approach to life, where we celebrate and party, turning a blind eye to the problems and crisis related to economic shifts. And, like a child, when things don't work they way we want, we throw a tantrum - an eloquent allusion to the town halls being held all across our country.
Today was the kick off of PopTech 2009: America Reimagined, the renowned ideas summit and unique innovation network dedicated to accelerating the positive impact of world-changing people, projects, and ideas.