Saturday, March 9, 2013

Short Thoughts on Interaction13



Had the privilege of attending Interaction13 in Toronto at the end of January. I love the IxDA and so I really enjoy getting to make it to the annual conference. And in general I love Canada, too, so it was fun to be back to both after a long while gone.



Of course I saw a number of design friends and made some new ones. I enjoyed some great food (poutine!) and had a truly wonderful Manhattan at the Cocktail Bar. Besides connecting and enjoyment, however, I was there to learn. So here are some brief snippets that stuck, in no particular order.

Designing for the world around us means more than just the next digital interaction. Design for interactions between people and for people. Sometimes use digital technology.

Lean UX Design is here and needs to be examined closely to see how it might benefit your practice in part or whole.

We can always get closer to the people we design for.

We should also probably get closer to the making of what we design, whether that's code, fabric, etc.

There are so many of us now. And still not enough. Training and mentoring are still big needs!

Interaction designers are in a great position conceptually to influence business and organizational thinking. Step into the fray. Know what you're talking about, and get ready to take some shots, but get in there. The world needs our perspective.

The Torontonian design outfit Normative rocks. "Strategy is an integrated set of choices that results in a unique position with lasting advantages." Intent planning is a favorite new strategy framework.

Strategy as Integration: Snowmobile = An outboard motor driving a tank on skis steered by a bike.

A good workshop should make you feel humble and empowered at the same time.

There are elements of being human we should think about more. Rhythm, flow, tension, inattention. They are already part of interaction, but we haven't been using them consciously much.

Data visualization is a huge interaction design opportunity (and yes, a huge opportunity for so much else, too). But we're still very focused on the amount of continuous information and the coolness of the visuals. We need to see how people can really use this and design for meaning. Analysis done by statisticians result in actuarials. We need synthesis over probability-based classification.

Education is another area that is in desperate need of interaction design thinking. As a society, we have mistaken review and regurgitation for education. It's time for engagement. 6 hat and 6 boxes can help.

Sound design is beginning to be recognized for its importance in interaction. Finally.

The interaction design students in the competition are doing amazing work in really interesting areas. We have more awesomeness ahead of us.

'Designing to maximize positive capability' is a powerful idea. Much better than 'behavior change'.

Happy to see more mention of system design and concepts. This is a really important skills growth area for us. Donella Meadows - "Leverage Points".

The Designing Everything but the Food talk showed a powerful example of rhythm and flow being used well in interaction & design. One idea from it was that phrasing goals as "how might we...?" is a great way to approach collaborative design.


I'll close this with the idea that increasing and tightening authentic human connections through social interactions could be one of the great achievements of our young field. Albert Shum (a fellow Microsoft employee) told us that connecting to make us all better is what we should strive for. I agree.