Interaction 11 report: day 3

Interaction Conference

Founded in 2008, the Interaction Design Association Conference brings together practitioners interested in all things around interaction design. Interaction 12 took place in Dublin, Ireland on 1–4 2012. Interactions 13 is set to take place in February 2013 in Toronto.

See all posts

Interaction 11 Day 3

Had you been paying attention? Bruce Sterling had, and wove together several strands of topics from the conference into his closing plenary, whilst also giving the audience a scathing wake up call. Also up included a galvanising Brenda Laurel, Jason Bruge’s inspiring ambient architecture … and the revelation that the Windows 7 Phone interface is actually pretty darn cool….

This daily report wouldn’t have been possible without the writing skills (and energy) of Pieter Jongerius, Anna Offermans, and Patrick Sanwikarja.

The Neuroscience of Usability — Charles Hannon

Our brain likes patterns. Especially patterns which we have seen before and which behave the same as they did the previous times we used it. The brain cant help looking for patterns because it is rewarded by the chemical dopamine when it finds patterns that lead to success. The pleasure is repeated each time we recognize the pattern, and the pattern recognition proves true. According to Charles Hannon, the validation of these patterns is not the only thing that gives us the delightful feeling. The dopamine is also released when we only see a pattern of which we think it will lead to success.

What happens if we don’t recognize a pattern? The App Store, for example, presents the price in a button, which has to be clicked to go further with the purchase. This isn’t a pattern many people are familiar with, since most web shops use a buy button next to or below the pricing information. We are not sure about what to do and get the feeling of frustration.
And what if something looks like a pattern we know but it doesn’t behave like we expect it to do? It gives us the feeling of panic: “oh s%&t!”. Of course we want to prevent the users from that feeling. The good thing is that this also leads to better learning about what patterns lead to success and what patterns don’t.

So, to give people a delightful feeling while using our products, we should use patterns people are familiar with. This leads to a dilemma; how can designers introduce new patterns which at the same time people are familiar with?

Charles concludes with saying that computing can be very invigorating, frustrating and emotional. Let’s hope it will stay like that in the future since it means that we as designers apparently keep on trying to introduce new innovative patterns which in the end will make life more easy!

Up with Complexity! Challenging Users for Fun and Profit — Josh Clark

Complexity is not a dirty word, it gives our lives texture. We shouldn’t just aim for ‘Dont make me think’, but also embrace ‘Make me think’. Our job is not to eliminate complexity, but to make it uncomplicated. According to Josh, there are a couple of ways to do that:

  • Just enough is more: Instead of ‘less is more’, we should design ‘just enough is more’. We should hide complexity, but we shouldn’t patronize users by hiding too much. As an example he talks about ‘Umbrella’, an iPhone app that anwers just one question: will I need an umbrella today? But most people don’t want dumbed down apps. They want uncomplicated apps, so there should be weather apps that offer more detailed weather forecasts, too.
  • Manage complexity through focus: The app Momento is a microjournal, that allows the user to capture ‘moments’. Most part of the screen is taken up by controls, so there is not enough room for the actual moment. The Twitter iPhone app, however, use a “hidden door” for access to more feature, to make room for writing the actual tweet. The trouble with secret panels is that they’re secret. Josh proposes to uses animations to reveal the hidden controls the first time, or better: to keep showing them until the user demonstrates that they got it. So it’s not about secrets. It’s about giving the user information and tools when asked for.
  • Manage complexity through conversation: One of the biggest challenges in managing complexity is that people think: more features is better. It’s up to us to guide them. Tap quality is more important than tap quantity. People don’t mind having to tap more, it’s about the effect of the tap. To Josh, buttons are a hack. They’re an abstraction, an extra layer between the user and the content. Touch will help sweep away decades of menus, folders and controls, and lets the user work with the content directly. So to paraphrase Marshall McLuhan: ‘the message is now the medium’.
  • Manage complexity through exploration: Until now, software has mostly been a tool to get things done. Now, software is an accessory. It’s content, not just utility. People are looking for distraction. Because of that, people are more open to complexity than we think. Apps like Runkeeper and calorietrackers are videogames for narcissists: they encourage people to slow down and find the story in data. Exploration is the killer app.
  • Create friction: Finally, it’s alright to create a little friction now and then. Josh tells the story of the six year old daughter of his friends, who drew a detailed plan to trap her grandma, involving a cake to lure her into the trap. The bottom line: complex schemes take a lot of thought, so spend time to find ways to uncomplicate complexity.

Applying Film Making Tools to Interaction Design — Adam Connor

The way film makers try to grasp the essence of the story they want to tell is inspirational and useful for our field. Adam Connor recognised this and jumped into the fold of film making, trying to discover interesting connections between it and interaction design. He found several

  • Beat Sheets are a way for film makers to capture all the important aspects that should be in a movie. It is a scene-by-scene outline describing plot points, actions and the effect on the audience. The way this is captured might be very interesting in our field as well, since we don’t just want to draw screens, but want to think (and capture)the emotions of the audience and the effect we want to achieve.
  • Mise en Scene is all the aspects a film maker has that aren’t dialogue, such as lighting, staging, acting, set design and costumes.
  • Motion is (obviously) important in film making: the way the camera, people and other things move largely define how things are perceived. In Western culture we see movement from left to right as progress and vice versa as going back of against the stream. Film makers use this by letting bad guys enter on the right. Movement from top to bottom enhances the feeling of inevitability and anticipation, while bottom to top is struggle.
  • Another aspect of motion is rack focus. By changing the focus on screen film makers can force viewers to look at different parts on the screen. What if we could use this technique in interaction design? Could we change the focus on a screen?

I really enjoy the approach Adam takes. He has the feeling that there is an interesting connection to be made and dares to present it as a starting point. I look forward to the next steps.

Marketing is not a 4 letter word — Megan Grocki

People moved to get out of the room at the start of Megan Grocki’s talk. Grocki, (head of Mad*Pow’s marketing team) indeed warned us that we had some highly controversial generalizations ahead. So, we put on our flight goggles and sat tight. It turned out to be an interesting ride. We guess it’s fair to say that Megan made some strong points in the interest of marketing and design.

Marketing, of course, isn’t just about cold hard sales driven by the classic 4P’s. It’s about ads, packaging, social media, word-of-mouth, PR, and much more. In a sentence: it’s about companies establishing & growing relationships with customers. Duly noted: companies may be non-profit, governmental or otherwise. Also customers may be other end-users, such as patients or citizens.

Marketing has come a long way since Philip Kotler and is helped forward these days by people like Seth Godin. Megan acknowledges however that marketing has its bad apples. And some of those have been very bad indeed, like the selling of cigarettes even when health consequences became apparent, the use of incorrect health claims for products, or the selling of expensive or addictive items to people who really can’t afford them. Those practices have given marketing a very bad reputation indeed.

“You ARE a marketer. Deal with it” – Kathy Sierra

It is high time though that we realize that marketing and design have a lot in common. Designers and marketeers share the dream of creating delightful cross touchpoint experiences. In this quest, one discipline can not do without the other. Megan gave some great examples of this: the experience in and around Disneyland, the integrated approach to various Netflix services and Zipcar. In all of these cases, a strong notion of brand, fair business propositions, great design and compelling copy come together in a powerful way.

“I’m a matchmaker”, Megan closes, throwing at us one of her charming smiles. She suggests that both designers and marketeers could use some good conversations around the campfire. Get together. Talk. Understand each other. We feel she is right. Designers need market reach for their products. Marketeers need great designs to sell and do their work effectively. Marketing deserves our attention and, most of the time anyway, our respect.

Designing Immersive Online Environments for Kids — Debra Levin Gelman

What better way to start off the day than with Alice in Wonderland? Debra Levin Gelman used this analogy to great effect in her fun and useful talk on some of the unique issues with designing experiences for 6-8 year olds, which come down to three areas:

  • Identity:
  • Self-expression: Offer the right tools, allow permanent object creation, make it a game .
  • Community: broad ground rules, privacy, collaboration and safety.

Gelman finishes with results from a study that suggest US kids are less creative now than they were 10 years ago, based on an experiment on things a person can do with a spoon (kids came up with far less examples than they did a decade ago) But while it’s easy to blame technology, she believes these can be catalysts for activity if we learn how children think and  process.

Computer Engineer Barbie: How Interaction Design can entice a new generation of women — Cheryl Platz

Many a girl geek (and a lot of guys) were in the room for Cheryl Platz’s impassioned talk on getting girls into interaction design.

Beginning with the recently released Computer Engineer Barbie, Platz highlighted that girls have been driven out of the computer science (CS) workplace since 1982 because of stereotypes. And in a Mean Girls world, perception is everything.

Girls picture CS as the guy in the room at 2am, creepily looking at his mouse!

What’s interesting is that while not many girls are in computer science (10%), many are  studying related fields: visual design is 48% female, cognitive psychology 71%. Many of these women could be interested in interaction design. Giving the example of her own CS class (proudly starting with a record number of girls that quickly dropped out), Platz also pointed out on of the turn-offs: the material is taught in the abstract rather than in context, removed from society. What’s more, a recent study shows that many female — and male —students capable of studying computer science don’t take it up because they “would rather be more people-centred or work with computers in another field”.

In other words, many girls who don’t study computer science could be interested in interaction design — if only they knew about it, which often they don’t. Platz advocates for us to make interaction design more visible by talking at career fairs, hosting job shadows, set up workshops, helping educators show the societal benefit of CS, and proposing interaction design additions to existing programmes:

spread the good word about IxD to students and education in your community — you might just save a life! 2.0—the making of an experience ecosystem — Ethan Eismann and Geoff Dowd

Dowd and Eismann ran us through the (naturally very good looking) experience, They summed up their ecosystem redesign with 6 principles:

  1. Know where your user is going, not where they’ve been. (i.e. look at disruptors, and how to prevent shift). They looked at competitors such as Aviary, and tried to anticipate why users might want to move to them in the future, and how to design around this.
  2. Paint an Ecosystem Picture. Also including the choice quote “No Lorel Ipsum. Ever.” The team looked to understand all the touchpoints of the website — a previous failing with the earlier version, which had locked customers out of upgrades such as Lightroom — and looked where it would be used (e.g. in-the-browser for Facebook pictures).
  3. Tell a great story with great detail. From the beginning. The redesign always used high-fidelity mockups to understand the experience — they did risk premature sign-off with this strategy, but felt it worth it.
  4. UI is brand. Despite this being a free product, the team took pains to make the language the same as the paid-for Lightroom, to allow for a seamless experience if users moved up.
  5. Apps are better than billboards. Free is good (if you can afford it).
  6. Beauty runs deep. Above all, draw the product you want.

Adobe’s talk was unusual in that it was from a mature brand with a history of design (they do sell high end design products after all, so in a sense, like Apple, have the advantage of designing for themselves), but still with interesting elements to take to any project.

Personal, Relevant, Connected: Designing Integrated Mobile Experiences for Apps and Web — Mike Kruzeniski

AKA the “OMG the Windows 7 phone UI is actually pretty cool!” talk, Mike Kruzeniski talked through Microsoft’s new UI strategy — and, much to people’s surprise, won over the audience. Microsoft is looking at “how you remove the chrominess of the experience”, which is already evident if you look at the Kinect (removing the interface) or their Futures 2019 concept video.

In today’s “apps are everything!” era, it’s a hard task to encourage ongoing use — most are downloaded only once, and only 1% are used on an ongoing basis in the long run. What’s more, they’re almost a rebuilding of the web (even 2/3 times for each platform), For apps to be meaningful and longlasting, Kruzeniski suggests they must be (as the talk is titled) personal, relevant, and connected:

  1. Personal: “mine, cares, knows about my stuff”. Examples, contact aren’t just contacts, also info about what they’re doing, gallery stripped back w/ typography.
  2. Relevant: “I’m always somewhere, sometime, doing something, with someone.” Allowing people to get back to life — how can we bring information to the surface? Trying to use smart info e.g. searching for Bouldher hotel in Boulder – maps. The Windows 7 Phone brings up location based information by default, assuming that since you’re here you don’t want to read about it.
  3. Connected: “give me everything where I am”. Making sure everything (e.g. avatars) connects easily between devices to create stories. Gruzeniski pointed out that the XBox poses an interesting challenge — how goes a game go from a console to the PC to the TV? — answering that it won’t be the same, but about a thread, with a hub and spoke model (e.g. jumping from music to Above all, it’s important to be appropriate for different contexts — he pointed to Evernote as an exemplar for doing it right.

Gruzenski put forward the wonderful concept of weaving — being able to pull things up to the top that are important to you — in order to create a greater story, an integrated seamless experience. For example, weather has untapped potential to be woven with other information e.g. weather (nice day) + social (see that a friend has free time) + running (you both like to run). People left the talk both excited about the talk, and the Windows 7 Phone examples used to show the exemplars. Eat your own dog food indeed.

Healthcare interfaces: How interaction design can help fix medicine — David Cronin

According to David Cronin of Smart Design, we are at an inflection point in the history of healthcare. We know enough for most people to live long healthy lives, but we have become concerned with people’s health far too late. The most common and expensive diseases are preventable and controllable by lifestyle choices. We need to decrease costs and increase quality and access of healthcare. Interaction designers can help in three ways:

  • Encourage healthy behavior It all starts with information. People need to understand the correlation between their actions and the consequences on their health. We can redesign lab reports or design products that help people track their behavior. FitBit is nice example, but the feedback experience is too far removed from the activity. Knowledge is the enabler. Emotion is the motivator: Nike+ – trash their screen
  • Bring home care delivery We should help people to do part of their healthcare at home. A great example is a new syringe by Smart Design that magnifies the force so thatpeople with rheumatoid arthritis self can confidently self-administer. Are androids the future of home care, such as the Japanese Actroid-F? An important part of healthcare is not medicine, but face time, the personal touch. If we can reduce time of routine visits, doctors can have more personal time with their patients.
  • Improve care in clinical situations Medical informatics is like enterprise software 10 years ago: the UX is really bad. Even the most advanced systems don’t offer good tools for documentation, communication and collaboration. So there’s a big opportunity for interaction designers to help clinicians there. It’s big challenge, because clinical data is incredibly complex, but in the end it will save costs. Another field where we can make a difference is remote care: surgeons operating at one locating, while the patient is in another. We can help by designing better decision support and better data display. Again, if tele-health can be as good as the real thing, this will have a huge saving in costs.

To me, David’s talk was hugely inspiring. It’s upsetting that there has been so little attention to good user experience where it is needed most: in healthcare. Especially now that more and more people need it. I really do hope that interaction designers can play a much bigger role here. As David said: “we’re not just talking about abstract interaction design principles. We’re talking about the health of your friends, family and children”.

Afternoon Keynote —Brenda Laurel

Brenda Laurel
We should have expected something extraordinary to happen. However, Brenda Laurel’s keynote caught us a little off guard. While we were expecting to get nostalgic about the classic designs that came to form our industry, we got more than we bargained for.

In a very personal and candid review of her professional life, Laurel shared some of the major innovations that she was involved in. She started out by showing us a convincing chromatography of technical innovations, with in it’s spectrum ‘dimensions’ such as impact on technology, actors, culture, nature and emergence. She coupled each innovation to what she calls a Hinge. Each hinge she then defined along the dimensions of her model.

So starting in the mid 70s, she told us the story about Cybervision, a computer and television based concept that would allow for gaming, but was way ahead of its time. She continued with the now classic 1976 Atari game computer and presented the early 80s Atari 400-800 which could do games and also ran some educational applications and music programs. She believed this to be a great innovation. Much to Brenda’s frustration, this concept was criticized as being “a fad, just like jogging”. Luckily, she got a lot of help from Alan Kay, who defended her within Atari by explaining to some that Brenda was “okay, but just a little misguided”.
Brenda went on to show decades of inspiring cases, such as Dynabook, Hole in space, Habitat, early nineties VR, along the line not suppressing her gripe with Mattel Inc (it acquired her computer-games-for-girls company Purple Moon and then killed it). Referring to her experimental work without any sign of regret, she elegantly stated that she had been “a crash dummy more times than I can count”.

And while she continued showing these key innovations, slowly but surely, a more profound social and ethical theme emerged, consisting of two intertwined parts:

  1. A great call for great authoring, driven by the strong notion that we as humans don’t have the luxury to see technology as something other than us. We created it. We use it. We are it. This comes with responsibility.
  2. Technology has evolved from serving single users, to dual users, to small groups, mobs, and now masses. Brenda shared her vision that this can only lead to the next great hinge, which is sure to be a true Gaian hinge.

In a dramatic closing, Brenda called upon us to start authoring for the whole of earth. Create a symbiosis at the level of our dear planet, our home, as seen from space. Great applause. Standing ovation. Some tears. And a mission.

Making mistakes fun: Game mechanics are not a panacea, but they are kinda useful! — Paris Buttfield-Addison

Loads of people see gamification as an easy way to create great experiences, but during this talk Paris Buttfield-Addison tries to give us a reality check. It isn’t just about adding badges and playful aspects. As a designer you need to move beyond adding fun and start thinking about engagement. The thing you want to do is create a relationship. One of the examples that stood out here is Bottle Bank

Pass it Back! Kid Apps on Grown Up Devices — Nina Walia

Each talk on children always draws in a big crowd, simply because we love working for this cute user group. Or as Nina puts it “I love designing with kids because I feel they are much better dreamers than we are.” In this talk Nina shared her experiences as a designer of several applications aimed at children:

  • Eliminate text barriers so the child can start the game on their own: parents don’t want to carry around all sorts of devices and toys, so they love putting children aps on their iPhones. When they give their iPhone to a kid they simply start up the application and hand it over. But before a kid can actually start playing with the application he/she needs to go through several menus;
  • Current hardware demands us to learn how it wants us to tap: children don’t understand what a touchscreen is and see a button as a physical button. Therefore they tap the buttons very hard and long, which on an iPhone can cause the application to be deleted;
  • Kids understand back arrows & expect home button to behave the same;
  • Landscape mode is optimal;
  • Disable zoom: children don’t understand zoom. What they see on a screen at a certain point is what exists, there is nothing else;
  • Make hot spots large;
  • Tilt is disorienting;
  • Limited audio is allowed: when parents give their kids the iPhone they are happy to have some time for themselves. The less interrupting audio, the better;
  • Control of the device is the reward;
  • Metaphors should mirror kids reality.

Long After the Thrill: Sustaining Passionate Users — Stephen Anderson

Stephen started his presentation by asking the audience who is in a longterm relationship. Many hands went up. And then he asked: would you like to stay in it? Obviously, no hands went down. Unlike his previous presentations and his Mental Notes, this talk was not about getting people to fall in love with your applications, but about getting people to stay in love with them. Or as Stephen calls it: sustaining passionate users through delightful challenges.

He made an analogy to teaching. Having been a teacher himself, he sees three attitudes to teaching:

  • Apply it yourself. This stuff is boring, but you have to learn it anyway.
  • Sugar coating. This stuff isn’t all that interesting, but layers of fun are added. This is what ‘gamification’ is.
  • Mastery. Something is inherently interesting or fun, so that you really want to learn it.

To Stephen, a game is fun when there is play & challenges + goals & rewards. This means we should find the game that is inherent in most things rather than sprinkling it on. Designers should consider whether the user is after a performance goal (i.e. getting an A in French) or a learning goal (i.e. wanting to learn French). As an exercise, Stephen asked the audience to think of characteristics of an existing game and then use them to make a time tracking application more fun. His own example was: what if you would add status? Then time tracking would not only be something you need to do, but also something you can get good at, either compared to others or to yourself.

But in Raph Koster’s words: delight, unfortunately, doesn’t last. Sustaining passionate users takes more than delightful experiences. When asked about why people use applications they have been using for more than three years (Gmail, Facebook etc), they answered such things as ‘because it works and continually improves’, ‘reliability’ and ‘friends use it’. But where is the love? The apps that are most used aren’t the fun and sexy apps, but the ones we need to use.

So in the end, Stephen presented the Kano model, which he thinks can help us to design applications that satisfies both on a basic level and on a delightful level. The model consist of two axes: high satisfaction vs low satisfaction on the vertical axis, and not (or poorly) implemented vs fully implemented on the horizontal axis. The more we can get an application into the upper right quadrant, the more sustaining its usage will be. We need to combine delighters with satisfying the basic needs. So: buy flowers on Valentine’s day, but don’t forget to close the lid of the trash can every day.

Stephen’s presentations are always fun and engaging – he does a good job of involving his audience. It would have been nice though if he had elaborated more about the Kano model and how to get people to stay in love. That part still felt a bit rushed. Guess we’ll have to look out for another opportunity to see him talk. I personally look forward to it.

Afternoon Keynote — Jason Bruges

Jason Bruges brought both a change of perspective and country with inspiring case studies (this year’s Dan Hill?) from his London-based eponymous studio. Showing rather than telling, there were none the less themes of ambient environments and tangible interaction in his myriad examples, which included:

  • The wonderful and award-winning WWF Panda Eyes exhibit
  • Exploring the ‘off-grid’ and ‘on-grid’ design, such as Phosphor Fields, Ropemaker (“scavenging energy”), Wind to Light, and Aeolian Tower
  • Engaging the public, such as the Memory Project (as it turned out, people gamed the installation to get pictures of themselves, someone Bruges loves), or the Narcissus inspired V&A Mirror Mirror , or wonderfully tangible Dotty Duveen
  • Tower Bridge for Switched on London — a visualisation of people’s Bluetooth consumption going over the bridge (this decade’s Live Wire?)
  • Physical pixels with the Sunderland Train Station’s Platform 5 (glass tile ‘pixels’ feature looping videos of volunteers — “Lots of people think there are people behind the wall.”)
  • Current and future sporting work: Oregon’s Game Show and Fast, Faster, Fastest for the London 2012 Olympics

Above all, Bruges believes in learning through failure (i.e. from pushing the limits) and proving through prototyping: both important as they’re often challenging technological constraints with their ambitious pieces.

Accessibility is Not a Checklist — Jimmy Chandler

Chandler gave a insightful and practical guide to designing for computer accessibility (aka A11Y ). He is wary of accessibility ‘checklists’, comparing it to site validation — many well-designed sites do not validate, and vice versa — and so instead gave a checklist of accessibility practices:

  • An iterative process is the best way to implement accessibility. Developers probably haven’t been trained in accessibility, early feedback is key, as this means accessibility does not become a painful and expensive add-on at the end. “When people say accessibility is expensive, they’ve done it wrong.”
  • Design for mobile first (ala Luke W’s post on this topic). The constraints that are imposed in designing for mobile first are also helpful for accessibility.
  • Include people with disabilities in your usability research. Chandler couldn’t emphasise this enough, as it’s key to understand how disabled people use your product. Shawn Lawton Henry’s ‘Just Ask‘ has a wealth of advice on methods.
  • Don’t assume people with disabilities don’t want to use your site. A blind person may use a driving site to help their children get their licence.
  • Don’t punish your customers to solve your business problems. Captcha may stop spam, but is more likely to make users abandon the form (this can particularly affect dyslexia users)
  • Get people to drive themselves. If you design with awareness of iOS’s built-in Voiceover & Speak Auto-Text, you can do blind and many other disabled users a huge service. Glenda Watson, a woman with cerebral palsy, has blogged about how the iPad has changed her life [and the site in general is an eye-opening and inspiring read].
  • Have people define their own time. Don’t use auto-advance or time limits — this disadvantages older users or those with reading difficulties.
  • Protect your audience. The more people can access your product, the better!
  • Accessibility is not just about blind people. It can be about temporary disabilities, other disabilities (again, dyslexia is far more common than we realise), and even cellphones!
  • Provide help in an accessible manner. Increasing contrast and esp adding texture helps with vision difficulties (and printing in b/w!) Accessibility is not just about blind people.

If there was one major takeaway from the talk, it was to test your products with at least one disabled user (Chandler said that “if you do that, I’ll have done my job”). For more information, check out his comprehensive list of accessiblity resources.

Closing Keynote — Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling was a cracker pick to finish. For those not in the know, he’s renowned for provocative talks, and having been around for the entire conference, he took no prisoners when giving his own spin on themes that had popped up over the last three days (diginity, our discipline, empathy).

Sterling chastised designers for being overly empathetic to their users (“you’ve got user Stockholm Syndrome”), challenged them to consider what it means to be an a moral designer

You don’t do morality. We talk about it, but don’t go there. You’re no better than engineers or computer scientists … Raymond Loewry pleased his clients (Coca-Cola, Lucky Strike) with great design that killed people later on. If you designed cigarettes now they’d be individually wrapped, with a thumb space … Our successors will reframe what we did and subject us to the same judgements we do to Ford.

Amidst discussions of critique and craft, he pointed out that the former is useful but not necessary, and that Steve Jobs succeeds because he isn’t afraid of anything, even death: “Critique won’t make you a better designer. What will make you a better designer is a fanatic dedication to craft and no fear of failure”

He challenged the place of the IXDA (or “icks-da”) both as an institution (“IxDA is a social network formerly known as the design profession”) and alongside institutions such as CHI (which was flamed by a couple of speakers:

Look at your white haired relations in ACM SIGCHI, and learn — they have history, regulations, decades of effort, and research. Don’t just viscerally react to those that came before you, otherwise you’ll disappear sooner than they did as people move towards another social network.

He finished with a thanks to Boulder (“because examples trump abstractions”): “It’s like Austin but paler and more zen walking around. I’m sure the thinkers of the world wouldn’t be impressed with Boulder. But it has a forgiving lapserian sleeziness about it that took lots of iterations to form. And a quirky charm.”

Perhaps his most inspiring quote was about being an interaction designer:

I can’t give you everything you need, and you can’t give me everything I need. Because I’m an adult. So stop trying. You could take an oath not to ruin my life. (But if you did, I wouldn’t believe it). The best you’ll come up with is a morality in permanent beta, which might be a good thing.

Many on twitter complained afterwards that he’s a science fiction writer rather than a designer, but as he said himself: “I’m your victory condition — an outsider who drank your kool-aid and joined you.” And I’d argue that, in a discipline sometimes overly obsessed with DTDT, sometimes it takes an outsider to tell it like it is — Emperor’s New Clothes anyone?


And so rounded up IXD11 (well, apart from the Microsoft party later that night with both a Kinect and absinthe — a deadly combination). Next year the conference goes across the pond to Dublin. For more, check out the IXD12 site.

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.

Vicky Teinaki

An England-based Kiwi, Vicky is doing a PhD at Northumbria University into how designers can better talk about touch and products. When not researching or keeping Johnny Holland running, she does the odd bit of web development, pretends her TV licence money goes only to Steven Moffatt shows, and tweets prolifically about all of the above as @vickytnz.

3 comments on this article

  1. Dana on

    My favorite talk of the day was Paris Buttfield-Addison’s. It was absolutely hilarious. Stephen Anderson and Josh Clark were close second.

    Thanks for the summaries!


  2. Pingback: Applying Film Making Tools to Interaction Design | Inventing Interactive

  3. Pingback: Interaction 11 recap « [sensical]