dConstruct 2010 highlights


I had the pleasure of attending this years one day dConstruct conference at the Dome in Brighton last week. It’s the first time in it’s history that I have been closely associated with web design to make the actually rather reasonable fee worthwhile.

It lived up to my expectations and perhaps delivered more than I expected. This is possibly in regards to the fact that I was expecting to be lost in creative examples and had imagined the event would pertain a certain geeky ethos that I just wouldn’t get, but I was pleasantly surprised at how broad and intelligent (sic!) the topics covered were.

Here are my distilled dConstruct 2010 highlights:

Ugly=good
Marty Neumeier opened with a reminder of some classic designs that had returned poor results when user-tested. I admired his challenge to the audience to embrace the radical and always strive for something different. Safe does not equal good.

Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones – Herbert Simon

Boil:Simmer:Reduce
Brendan Dawes used the above explanation for his approach to design. I particularly liked his observation of use of the mobile phone as of course so much more than just a mobile phone. To him it’s a portable satch board, albeit an imperfect one. He admitted his fame is founded on the design of the Moviepeg – an iPhone stand, both beautiful for it’s simplicity and it’s ingenuity.

His takeaway: that Da Vinci’s golden rectangle was right! And that the key to successful redesign is to always remember how amazing an invention the pencil was (citing an essay called I, Pencil)

A designer knows that he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away –Antoine de St-Expurey

Information is Beautiful
David McCandless spoke on infographics, repeating his recent TED talk. His food for thought is that colour is the language of the eye, and that overlaying data creates beautiful patterns between the mind and the eye. Watch the whole presentation below.

Good taste
John Gruber spoke fantastically on Auteur Theory, opening by stating his love for the written word and writers like Kurt Vonnegut, before going on to film and quoting Stanley Kubrick:

One make writes a novel, one man writes a symphony. It is essential for one man to make a film.

One man must make the final decisions. As a strategy/account director I like that. Directors can make entire films feel a certain way. Auteur: a director is the author of a film. Making isn’t necessarily one handed but you never see co-directorship.

However he has a thesis: The quality of any collaborative creative endeavor tends to approach the level of whoever has control.

TV series director is known as a show runner in the US. They are the auteur of the TV series.

The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good – Stanley Kubrick

Gruber stirred the broadened the debate between taste and intuition. Here’s what everyone else thought:

Internet in a box
James Bridle
is an intriguing you chap. He announced his session to be on history, culture, memory & preservation. He’s a writer, and clearer also a good researcher. His talk was full of revelation. His observations on archiving and how the internet is changing the way we use memory deserve a separate post so watch this space!

The Network Touches Everything
…is the title of Tom Coates slot. A charismatic and humerous man Tom’s history working with clever people at the BBC and Yahoo comes through in spades. Like James Tom covers a lot of history and also talks about science fiction (something I’m getting a real feel of in the back channel of my digital life right now) and provokes me to take notes for another blog post.

The open API is as transformative as the first roads – Tom Coates

Two other public bookmarks for you all:

1. Lanyrd – a social conference planner (and reviewed yesterday by Techcruch)
2. Rattlecentral – the rattle team tracked their enjoyment of dConstruct live as it happened here. Very clever.

Nice one Clearleft. Big respect to Andy Budd and Sophie Barratt.

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