Day 2 for me started without the keynote. I slept in a bit and came to the conference for the second round. Which was a shame, because the general consensus was that Kate Darling did a great job. Sorry for not covering that.
That made the first talk I saw that day Pablo Honey’s ‘the invisible cities’ -which was really good. He succesfully weaved a story of connectivity and also human-ness and made it relevant to our community. One thing that stood out was his appeal to design city systems bottom up: involving citizens in the things they want.
After that it was on to -for me- one of the positive surprises of the day. Simone Rebaudengo gave a talk called ‘smart frictions’, together with Nicolas Nova, which was great. A really insightful look in why we would term something ‘smart’ because it isn’t, with lots of examples and a good central story. Also, he showed a great and funny short film: teacher of algorithms.
He did have me riled with one example though, the ‘Grove’ indoor garden. This is kind of an oversized fridge with fish, where you grow your own food. It it supposed to give you ‘a salad’ every few days. All of this for the nice price of 4500 dollars(!) – but what can you expect when it’s nicely designed and chock full of sensors keeping an eye on your precious plants. To me, the thing is more an example of everything wrong with IoT (and also inner-city hipster stuff) than a nice example. But well. End of rant.
After lunch (great again!) was Sarah Henry’s ‘Build better products with emotional data’, which was fun, but didn’t really connect to me, to be honest. What did connect to me, because car person, was John Rousseau giving a talk: ‘on the road to autonomy’, about the near future of the self driving car. His talk was really good, presenting some interesting UI ideas about how to design a car dashboard in a future where drivers don’t really need to be present – taking learnings from airplane autopilot systems and more.
What I kind of missed though, was some real thinking about how this all ties into new ways of owning or renting cars that are starting to emerge. I asked a question during the Q & A about ‘boredom’ – how do you design a system where somebody might not need to drive for 2 hours, while still keeping them fully aware. This was kind of waved away as not being within the scope of the research – which was a shame.
At the end of this day, no Tricia Wang, because she was sick, but thankfully Josh Seiden stepped up and upgraded the talk he would have given earlier on the day to ‘keynote’ status. Josh Seiden is one of the authors of ‘Lean UX’, a big, although somewhat controversial methodology in the community. He really stepped up with a passionate talk about lean, continuous designing – learning while your system is live. No really new things from my perspective, but delivered well and with great examples.