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dConstruct 2010

I recently had the luxury of a day away from the office attending (my third) dConstruct conference.

dConstruct has always been more ‘conceptual’ than a ‘technology’ driven conference which is a great as it’s always guaranteed  to stimulate good conversation.  This years theme ‘Design and Creativity’ didn’t disappoint and focused largely towards creative thinking and innovation in the digital design industry.  You can now listen to podcasts of all the sessions on the dConstruct website … the following thoughts are my own reflections/notes from the conference.

Marty Neumeier started the day by telling the audience about design thinking – “if you want to innovate, you have to design”. He made it clear design is much more than aesthetics, instead saying it’s simply anything that changes an existing situation to something better.

  • Customer demand now equates to “free/perfect/now” (used to be any two from (cheap/good/fast”)
  • We live in a world with a wealth of information and a poverty of attention
  • To differentiate from others, your brand is the key
  • Make things that are both ‘good and different’ (‘really different’). Being good OR different is no longer enough
  • ‘Good and different’ is an uncomfortable mix as customers don’t actually know what they want
  • There is an reliance on using analytics over intuition
  • ‘Making’ is the process of dealing with the gap between vision and reality.

Brendan Dawes then followed on with a talk about creative process. He emphasised that we mustn’t underestimate ‘playfulness’

  • Inspiration (Boil) /Consideration (Simmer) /Reduce
  • Risk needs a partner
  • Better output if you have a better input
  • It’s finished when there is nothing left to remove
  • Justify everything (reduce)
  • Not everything needs a purpose to belong.

David McCandless spoke about the visualising data and patterns beautifully. He emphaised how this could help people solve problems more effectively.

  • Google Insights http://www.google.com/insights/

In the final session of the morning Samantha Warren moved the focus onto typography comparing them to shoes… ie. you need the right choice for the right situation.

After lunch John Gruber spoke on “The Auteur Theory of Design” taking about the colloborative approach used in the art of film making. His reference to “taste” caused some controversy on Twitter with arguments around how can you actually define (good) taste?

  • Writing is single handed/making requires collaboration
  • Why some projects never rise to the level of the talent of those involved?
  • The requirement for an arbiter of taste (auteur or director in charge) so collaborative projects can excel
  • Raising the bar higher and people do their best work.

Hannah Donovan talked about (and demonstrated) musical improvisation and how this can be used within a design process

  • Learning music like a language (improvisation is easiest in a mother tongue)
  • The best ideas happen in conversation
  • Mutual respect in collaboration (inc. trading parts)
  • It pays to be picky who you work with
  • Spontaneous processes (eg. paper prototyping in a design process).

James Bridle‘s “The value of ruins” focused on the importance of digital history and archiving

  • We’re defined by objects, places and memories
  • Documentation is important in maintaining digital history.

Tom Coates spoke about networks being “transformative infrastructures” and a vision for the future with everything becoming a connectivity of data.

  • The web now is about efficiently bringing together services
  • Physical objects are also services
  • Digification is the worlds future
  • We are the road builders.

Merlin Mann finished the day talking without slides and by explaining the difference between nerds and geeks (defining the the dConstruct audience as nerds).

  • Not everyone cares (that’s what sets people apart in creative work)
  • Be aware of what’s changing in industry
  • The key to progressing is to keep learning.

Hello, I’m Ben Holliday. This is my blog where I’ve been writing for 15 years. You can follow all of my blog posts by subscribing to this RSS feed. You can also follow my regular updates on Twitter.