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dConstruct 2011 – Expectations and Ideas

I had a great time at this years dConstruct conference combined with a few sun soaked days with the family in Brighton.

Differing expectations

I’ve always seen dConstruct as special because it’s not like most other digital/web conferences. The future design challenges we face won’t be straight forward so why should our conference talks and the ideas they explore?
I enjoyed just about all the talks, but not everyone agreed. There’s already been some good discussion on conferences and expectations.

Lots to think about

The day started with Don Norman. Don told us to think ‘systems’ not products. Create things that integrate fully. Design for memories and not just design experiences because memories last much longer.

Kelly Goto talked about the need to think about the spaces between the experiences we’re creating. Creating seamless connections that work with our lifestyles. Kelly told us that the way to do this is to understand how people actually live their lives rather than just knowing what they think.

Bryan Rieger & Stephanie Rieger’s tag team talk was based around the challenge of “Letting Go“. They talked about designing for a unique set of challenges combining current events and technology, arguing that users won’t wait for us to create the experiences they want.

Craig Mod closed the morning with a talk titled “the Shape of the Future Book?”. I’ve got to be honest, I struggled with this one. It was close to lunch, if anything I needed more coffee. Credit to Craig for trying something different in the form of the monologue he used for the main section of his talk.

In the afternoon session Frank Chimero followed up Don’s earlier message and talked about the importance of both the experience and the memory in the creation of delightful design. Frank went on to talk about archiving and making our collections of digital artifacts more useful. Creating and preserving the unique identity of digital objects, and the need to curate.

Dan Hon talk “Storytelling, Play, and Code” continued on the curation theme by talking about the lost association of physical artifacts with digital objects and highlighted the problem of digital artifacts all looking the same.

Kars Alfrink’s talk was influenced by about the recent UK riots. I enjoyed his talk but didn’t really take any notes.

Matt Sheeret talked about bringing the digital world into our pockets as physical artifacts. Doctor Who references aside he was essentially talking about the need for more human, digital objects that matter to us as much as their physical predecessors. These need to have the unique, sometimes random qualities and quirks of the physical objects we cherish and keep.

Kevin Slavin closed the day and talked about augmented reality by making the point that, actually, reality is plenty. Full of beauty and wonder if we look close enough. Augmented reality works if devices guide and connect our experiences, but they need to let our eyes do what they’re meant to do – experience the world around us and not just the world in front of us.

Not a bad message to end on.

Ben Holliday is an experienced design leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). You can follow all of Ben's blog posts by subscribing to the RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter for more regular updates.