Just back from a beautifully sunny Brighton attending dConstruct 2009. The blurb says: “dConstruct 09 brings together leading thinkers from the fields of ubiquitous computing, interface design, gaming and mobile to explore the challenges of designing for tomorrow.” Great low cost conference, sold out, great speakers, in a great venue. Below is a summary of observations during the day.

First up was Adam Greenfield talking about “Elements of a Networked Urbanism”. Lots of interesting pairs now >> new got me thinking about how the digital layer may manifest itself in our cities. Of particular interest were information that:

expires >> persists – as we create geolocated information that is stored in the temporal ether history will persist – both at a public and personal level.

wayfinding >> wayshowing – typically signs are located statically (even if they have dynamic content). Mobile mapping is already creating the personal “showing” devices of the new.

objects >> services, vehicle >> mobility, ownership >> using, I can understand the Spotify example and the StreetCar one (although i have never used the latter), but I like to own my Triumph, do I need to? Not sure. Do i want to? Yes. I think there is more to ownership than functional need. When i look at my young son he is desperate to own toys – not just play with them but he wants to take them back to his cave. How will we release our desire to own?

Schelling >> shoaling – rather than the static mtg points (under the clock at Grand Central) a move towards dynamic, social networked “i am here” gatherings.

community >> network – you don’t necessary want to know everything about your neighbours, ignorance can make community friendships easier, in the virtual space you connect to those who have similar affinities to you more easily, in a way that you cannot in cities. You cannot necessarily overlay online social space to the physical cities – if we did would it look like the suburbs?

consumer >> constituent – in the new we are equal co creators – what will this mean in the urban environments we are desiging?

Second up were Mike Migurski and Ben Cerveny from Stamen on the theme of “Let’s See What We Can See (Everybody Online And Looking Good)” Great walk through of some their projects which i had seen but not analysed before.

Ever felt alone sitting by yourself on a telecon call? moveon.org was a project where they mapped large numbers of people listening into conference call based meetings to give people a feeling of participation since they can “see” others on a map.

For sfmoma artscope, they were given a 6000 strong art collection and asked to create an interactive web based browsing interface. One key aim was to get the zeitgeist view. They used pan, zoom, tile metaphors of mapping. Each image of artwork is rendered as a tile with top left showing first bottom right showing most recent.

One of my favourite nebisms was “dimensional synesthesia” – taking the temporal time line of the collection and transposing it into the spatial. Visualisation being used to stimulate a different way to look at the data. One for me to explore with our internal R&D / innovation projects website (6 years of data 2000+ projects)

Also great to get a first hand demo of the hurricane tracker web app which i had read about but not really looked at. On the meta view of the hurricane tracker “the individual instances when taken together allow us to understand the whole piece” another nice nebism on *sculpture in possibility space*.

The final speaker of the day was Russell Davies (Materialising and Dematerialising A Web of Data. (Or What We’ve Learned From Printing The Internet Out)) who i have heard much about but never heard. A great, funny speaker who uses props on stage – excellent! Best quote was one he made at Guardian conference re Stuff we read in 2008 “we have broken your business, now we want your machines” Take away message was that we need to think more about how we embed the web in the world around us (and not just try to put the world into the web).

Other comments that i liked included:

Brian Fling (What’s Next? How mobile is changing design) “twitter the product is not a website it is an api” the result of mobile is that the future of web is not about a single website but about designing for different contexts. Mobile – portable, personal and ubiquitously connected.

Robin Hunicke (Loving Your Player with Juicy Feedback) on making your app juicy (fun, playful, engaging – more bouba less kiki) and introduced the MDA framework to me (mechanics dynamics aesthetics) examples of juiciness included: prius energy display, armchair revolutionary website, wii, iphone

August de los Reyes (Experience and the Emotion Commotion) supporting use of MDA but in an industrial design perspective. Also his great prickles and goo clip – http://www.neticons.net/prickles

books to search out:

The emotion machine – Marvin Minsky (via August)

The nature of technology – Brian Arthur (via Russell)

Digital Fabrications – Lisa Iwamoto (via Adam)