The Euro­pean dream appears quite sta­ble. Chi­na may be head­ing for a bump in the road if its pop­u­la­tion ever demands democ­ra­cy. Rus­sia had a peri­od of fast growth (with pre­cious lit­tle ben­e­fit for most Rus­sians) but what hap­pens if Vladimir Putin is becom­ing a mil­i­tary adven­tur­er? Europe looks to have those trau­mas behind it. Nor has it become an Amer­i­can-style plu­toc­ra­cy.”

Europe still has lots to learn. A French friend recent­ly attend­ed a Cal­i­forn­ian recep­tion packed with bril­liant French engi­neers work­ing in Sil­i­con Val­ley. He came home think­ing: “What would it take to bring those peo­ple back to France?” That’s the sort of ques­tion Euro­peans need to ask: how to con­vert their won­der­ful idea net­works into Apples and Googles? Lon­don, Europe’s de fac­to busi­ness cap­i­tal, with its bud­ding tech sec­tor, may be find­ing an answer. If it does, the rest of the con­ti­nent will try to copy it, because non­stop cross-bor­der learn­ing is still the secret of Europe’s suc­cess.”

The first para­graph and the sec­ond here are odd­ly dis­so­nant to me. Isn’t the finan­cial­i­sa­tion of Sil­i­con Val­ley (and for that mat­ter, London’s Tech City) a sure sign plu­toc­ra­cy comes rid­ing in on the back of “Apples and Googles”?

(via Why Europe works — FT.com)

Week 141

It’s been a while since I spent time at my own desk in the Dutch Game Gar­den. It was nice to do this again yes­ter­day, hav­ing the city right out­side my door and kin­dred spir­its such as Fource­Labs upstairs. I wasn’t inside the whole time though, in the morn­ing I had anoth­er chat at EKKO about Tako. And in the after­noon I head­ed to Lei­d­sche Rijn accom­pa­nied by Julius to attend a work­shop con­cern­ing Utrecht’s bid to become Euro­pean cap­i­tal of cul­ture.

I kicked off the week with two days of work at Layar (now on my way to Ams­ter­dam in a divert­ed train for my third and last day of the week there). I’ve been col­lab­o­rat­ing close­ly with some of the engi­neers to shape some upcom­ing new… stuff. Things are devel­op­ing at such a high pace that it’s a real chal­lenge to keep up. It feels like being on top of a rodeo bull some­times, but in a good way. This means I need to be prag­mat­ic and fast with devel­op­ing and doc­u­ment­ing designs.

In between, I’ve post­ed a long over­due project descrip­tion to the Hub­bub site for Mega Mon­ster Bat­tle Are­na. It’s this quirky project — a cross between a game and an opera — that I was involved with last year. It feels good to final­ly have it out there for me and oth­ers to point to.

Oth­er in-between stuff includes a final review of sev­er­al grad­u­a­tion project pro­pos­als. I need to pro­vide feed­back by the start of next week, and then I’ll switch to coach­ing a hand­ful of stu­dents.

The week will be topped off with what is sure to be a fun fri­day at the BUROPONY stu­dio. I’ll do some work on their site, and in return have them do some addi­tion­al work on the Hub­bub brand. Scratch­ing each other’s backs, that’s how small cre­ative enter­pris­es flour­ish.

IA Summit 2007 — Leaving Las Vegas

I’m sit­ting in the North West Air­lines World Club in Detroit using my eleven hour (!) lay-over to work away all the email and RSS feeds that have been pil­ing up dur­ing the past days of being (most­ly) off-line.

I had a great time at the IA Sum­mit. It was def­i­nite­ly worth the trip. Attend­ed lots of thought-pro­vok­ing talks and met a whole bunch of inspir­ing peo­ple. It’s inter­est­ing to now be able to put the Euro­pean IA scene in con­text of the ‘inter­na­tion­al’ one.

I’m sin­gle-quot­ing inter­na­tion­al, because to be hon­est, I think the IA Sum­mit is a North Amer­i­can event. Of course there were quite a few vis­i­tors and even speak­ers from out­side the US & Cana­da, but I can’t help but feel that the major­i­ty of atten­dees real­ly are not very aware of the tru­ly inter­na­tion­al char­ac­ter of the IA com­mu­ni­ty.

That’s a shame.

One exam­ple is some­thing I real­ly should have fixed dur­ing 5 minute mad­ness: the announce­ment of the Euro­pean IA Sum­mit. Apart from men­tion­ing the event’s name and URL, peo­ple weren’t exact­ly per­suad­ed to come over. It wasn’t even men­tioned that this is in the beau­ti­ful city of Barcelona!

Any­way, I’ll just use this oppor­tu­ni­ty to invite all my Amer­i­can col­leagues to make the trip and get a taste of how we do things in Europe. Seri­ous­ly, I’m sure peo­ple will enjoy learn­ing about the unique issues we’re deal­ing with (I did the oth­er way around). Like Jesse James Gar­rett said: “embrace ambi­gu­i­ty”.

On a dif­fer­ent note, I’ll prob­a­bly be doing a series of posts over the com­ing weeks like I did for the last Euro IA Sum­mit, once I get my notes ordered and fil­tered. Stay tuned.

Euro IA Summit 2006 themes

Euro IA Summit 2006 mind-map

The sec­ond Euro­pean IA Sum­mit has come and gone. The promised live updates from Berlin weren’t deliv­ered due to the scarci­ty of pow­er sock­ets and flaky WiFi (a les­son for the orga­ni­za­tion of next year’s event, IMHO). I do have a few hun­dred pho­tos to go through, includ­ing the con­tents of my Mole­sk­ine (chaot­ic mind-maps of each talk, for the real con­nois­seur.)

All in all, the sum­mit was great. It was nice to meet old acquain­tances and make new ones. We had quite a few laughs because of lan­guage and cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences, which is what a Euro­pean event is all about I guess.

It was encour­ag­ing to see that the num­ber of atten­dees was con­sid­er­ably larg­er than last year. The vari­ety of nation­al­i­ties had also increased I think, which is good of course.

The con­tents of talks were of a pret­ty high stan­dard, while pre­sen­ta­tion skills of the speak­ers var­ied wide­ly, as could be expect­ed. It’s a shame when high qual­i­ty con­tent becomes hard to grasp due to bad pre­sen­ta­tion, and we had a few of those, but I still respect any­one who had the courage to step up and express their views.

On the way back I cre­at­ed a mind-map of all the big themes I picked up on dur­ing the week­end and intend to delve into the main ones over the course of this week in a series of mini-posts. The first one will be on strat­e­gy; the fol­low-ups will cov­er social search, process & deliv­er­ables, involv­ing the client and acces­si­bil­i­ty.

Where are the good European IxD schools?

Dan Saf­fer of Adap­tive Path wrote an intro­duc­to­ry piece for bud­ding inter­ac­tion design­ers. Five years ago, Robert Reimann of Coop­er did the same. Both are nice overviews for novices and espe­cial­ly the parts on a designer’s tem­pera­ment are enter­tain­ing to read.

Saf­fer fails to men­tion any good IxD schools out­side of the US and UK. Which is a shame for all of us Euro­pean design­ers. Reimann men­tioned Ivrea’s now defunct IxD insti­tute.

I’d like to start by point­ing to my coura­geous lit­tle country’s Utrecht School of Arts, which has been teach­ing IxD for 15 years now (!) and today offers both BA and MA pro­grams. They’ve recent­ly branched off into game design, which has been quite suc­cess­ful.

Full dis­clo­sure: I was a stu­dent at the same school from 1998 – 2001 (BA IxD, MA Game Design) and am now teach­ing a course in mobile game design.

Any oth­er good IxD schools in Europe that you know of?

Update: dis­cus­sions on Saffer’s post on the IxDA’s mal­ing list here and here; overview of IxD edu­ca­tion (most­ly in the US) here.