From Business to Buttons 09 report: day 1

Reporting live from Sweden about FBTB09.

Today and tomorrow Malmö will host From Business to Buttons 09. Sweden’s leading event on interaction design. And since Johnny Holland is the proud media partner of this event we’ll be delivering a day-to-day report of the main talks.

It’s been a great day full of talks and workshops. People met, talked Swinglish and shared a lot of insights. On the conference floor people could play around with new technologies and a very interesting Microsoft Surface game, created by Ergonomidesign. I would definitely recommend you to watch the videos of all the talks below and the workshops, which are available to watch at the Bambuser FBTB09 channel.

Garr Reynolds – The Zen of presentation design & delivery: Why it matters now more than ever

Reynolds had the honours of doing the opening keynote on From Business to Buttons 09. And he did a nice job sending shivers down the spines of all the speakers having to talk after him. In his talk he showed us the power of presentating in a good way (+ why Powerpoint sucks).

As a big fan of jazz Reynolds first refered to the relationship between jazz and presentations. According to him they should both be structured, but leave room for freedom. Presenting is not about reading up bulleted lists or bringing across as many facts as possible, it’s about story telling. You have a story to bring across where you want people to feel energetic about and interested in.

When you want to give a good presentation there are three things you have to keep in mind: restraint, simplicity and naturalness. Restrain yourself from bringing across too much or too complicated stuff. Simplicity is important in the story and design of the presentation, keep focus. And the presentation should have a naturalness in it, both in timing and flow. According to Reynolds the zen master of presentations is Steve Jobs. He makes it look so easy, but that’s mainly because of the great preparation. Jobs’ presentations are very visual and aesthetic which attracts the right attention. You should have slides that support your story, not trying to bring across the entire message in itself.

Reynolds showed some examples of good and bad presentations. Comparing Bill Gates’slides from the past and present, showing a major difference in the design. (from the 90’s lollipop slides to design slides nowadays). Another great example is Al Gore’s presentation on ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’ A real recommendation if you want to see a good presentation.

We aren’t blamed for using bulleted lists, since Powerpoint kind of forces us in this position. But Reynolds does want us to forget about this way of presenting. He quotes:  “Learn all the rules, then forget them” – Basho.


  • It’s not about the tools, it’s about the ideas
  • Start in analog mode, with sticky notes or sth like that
  • Take a risk – child’s mind/beginners mind (In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, in the experts mind there are few – Shunryu Suzuki)
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the audience, it’s their time. (Hara hachi bu “Eat only until 80% full”)
  • It’s not about the thing, but about the story of the thing
  • Embrace simplicity: maximum effect with minimum means

Dave Malouf – “What’s going on” to “We’re not gonna take it”

Catriona Campbell – How do we really create and show Return on Investment from social media?

In her talk Campbell touched a lot of different points, but two really stuck out:


The most interesting quote Campbell threw at us was “Advertising is dead. We must start monetizing social media.” According to her there are a lot of commercial possibilities that lie within social media that we haven’t touched yet. She calls this field social commerce: using social media to earn money.

Campbell is a great believer of micropayments. She says this will be the next great thing. People will start exchanging small amounts of money for content on a huge scale, like for good tips or music. We already saw this trend unfolding in Second Life and even the app store, but now it will become a general theme.

One of the more interesting new initiatives in this field is TipJoy, a way of giving small amounts of money to people you like on services like Twitter. When you’ve set up an account you can tweet an amount of money to the person you like (as small as $0.01). These kind of payments seem small, but when you’ll have enough people doing this it can become something big. I think it’s really interesting… Every day we give away a lot of interesting content and data, even links. But why shouldn’t we reward people for doing this? I can understand people don’t want to pay $25 a month for a subscription on a digital newspaper or a Twitter feed. But giving a tip of $0.10 for a good article or $2.00 for somebody who’s showing you nice sites all the time does seem fair, plus the amount is small enough to consider. It’s what made the app store big.


The technology of the day was definitely electroencephalography (EEG). This “is the recording of electrical activity along the scalp produced by the firing of neurons within the brain.” (thank you Wikipedia). With this technology it is possible to measure the emotional engagement a user has with a product or page. It is able to measure: cognitive attention, visual attention, emotional attrection and emotional engagement. And the technology has developed so far that it has become very mobile.

In line with this Campbell talks about the different modes a user can be in, which are very interesting to explore. In general people are browsing the web in a task mode, searching for information or doing their e-mail. But with, for example, social media they are more in an explorative mode. Understanding these modes is key in designing good experiences and knowing when to present what kind of interaction. As an example she says Facebook puts people in an explorative mode, but as soon as they are in the mailbox of Facebook they change to a task mode. Really interesting stuff, and definitely worth researching how people feel. Especially when you can use a cool technology such as electroencephalography (I admit I copy-pasted that word…).

Matt Jones – Designing personal informatics

Recently Matt wrote an article for us about personal informatics, which holds the main part of his talk at this conference. So instead of repeating his words I’d like to focus on a small, but still very good, part of his talk: the importance of playfulness. Matt states that playfulness creates fun and thus engagement. It’s the icing on the cake that makes otherwise boring data interesting. One of the examples he gave was the interface of the Toyota Prius, which gives you an account of the consumption of the car. It does it in such a way that it almost becomes a game to drive more efficient. By integrating this kind of playfulness into a product you are able to engage people in a way they would normally not think about. The common becomes new and energizing again. When it’s about points, it’s a game.

Another example he gave is called ‘delighters’, which are things you place in order to create delight deliberately. In the physical world this could be a beach ball that is placed on your hotel bed on a sunny day, putting a smile on your face. In the digital world this could be a compliment for keeping your mailbox spamfree or the product Matt created: the Dopplr personal annual report. In the annual report they translated otherwise boring data in a playful way, like translating your carbon print in the number of hummers you’d drive (so 2.1 hummers instead of telling 42.299kg CO2). Another thing they did was translate the amount of kilometers you travelled into an animal with a relative speed. This way numbers were suddenly something funny and relatable, like being a mouse or a wombat. This approach really appeals to me. Being able to look beyond the data and to translate it into a story people love is briljant. The way they made the year report made people realize how they traveled. And people who didn’t have or didn’t update their Dopplr data realized they were missing out on the fun, which caused them to start keeping track of their accounts…. Thus bringing in more valuable data for the company. Brilliant.

Some other lessons from Matt’s talk:

  • Personal informatics: don’t steer it all the way, but keep the data open enough for interpretation by individuals
  • Data Gifts: give the users something back… this became the annual report.
  • Don’t forget to test the outliers (the extremes)
  • Matt Locke: Data + Time = Story
  • Add video to presentations. Integrate video in the presentations. Not fullscreen. Why? It looks impressive.

Jeroen van Geel

Jeroen van Geel is founder/chief kahuna of Johnny Holland and the interaction director at Fabrique [brands, design & interaction], a Dutch multidisciplinary design agency. You can follow him on Twitter via @jeroenvangeel.

6 comments on this article

  1. Great summary. Thanks for building on our collective memory. 🙂

  2. It would seem that high res versions of videos from the conference are being posted here:

    (So for example an interview with Dave Malouf and his talk that Jeroen couldn’t go to while he was covering Catriona’s talk is available. There is also an interview with Garr Reynolds.)

  3. soo on

    Would like to meet you but can’t find you among all the guests!

  4. @Dave thanks for the tip! I just added all the videos. This way all the people attending FBTB can check out your talk and say they saw it 😛

    @soo I’m really here… 🙂 wearing a blue shirt but no red rose..

  5. Kara on

    Thank you for mentioning Garr Reynolds in your post. I work for Peachpit Press and thought you and your readers might be interested in knowing that he just released his first online streaming video, Presentation Zen: The Video, where he expands on the ideas presented in his book and blog. More info can be found here:

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