Last evening I was on top of the Neudeflat, to review a draft of a presentation I’ve prepared as part of project Tako.1 Earlier that day and monday I talked to the last two participants: Culturele Zondagen (a producer of frequent city-wide cultural events that always take place on sundays) and Habek (a producer of local hip-hop events and projects). Most of the presentation is in place — lots of rough concepts for playful cultural projects — it just requires some last additions and tightening up to be ready for the city lab session with all participants next week.
On tuesday morning I found myself in a room filled with students, who gave short presentations on the results from the initial field research they performed over the previous week. Some had interesting insights to share, ranging from the experience of story in single player versus multiplayer RPGs to the effects of a playful UI on the perceived effectiveness of information appliances. Others were really struggling with the development of a brief for their own work. Next up for them is to write up a proposal for their graduation project. We’ll review a first draft of those next week.
As I’m writing this, I am on my way to Layar again — who had some exciting news to announce this week and won a few awards in Barcelona too. Most of my time this week will be spent on a design sprint outlining a new product offering. We’ll do a review of that somewhere this week, and take it from there. Iterate’s the word. Thinking through making.
In the time that’s left, I’m chipping away at the talk for Hamburg this sunday. The rough silhouette is there, now it’s just a matter of building a deck. Should be doable, right? Right.
The promotion department of the city of Utrecht has its offices here, with stunning views. [↩]
Some more catching up with things that occurred recently; on Monday February 23 we1 had our second This happened. I am quite satisfied with how things went.
For one; we had some unplanned cohesion2 amongst talks.3 Three out of four talks discussed the use of field research (to use the term broadly). It was good to have some discussion of how this is put in practice, as I often find ethnographic techniques being presented as some kind of silver bullet, but without any clear demonstration of its application. It was also cool to see field research being applied effectively in such different contexts (primary school, the elderly, South Africa).
To my relief, a significantly larger percentage of the audience (compared to last time) was female.4 This was something we had worked consciously towards, since the first edition’s testosterone quotient was a bit too high. In my opinion, a more diverse audience is conducive to the kind of relaxed, open and honest atmosphere we are pursuing. The main way we tried to draw in a more balanced mix of people was by inviting more female speakers. Three out of four talks were by women. All of them were great. It seems to have worked.
I love that This happened seems to be a venue for the kind of unassuming and honest presentations we somehow stop giving once we leave design school (or at least I have). I can’t think of other events where I am treated to such wonderful war stories from the front-lines of interaction design.
The discussions after each session were good again as well. Lots of thoughtful questions, critical, but fair. Alper was kind enough to keep minutes, and has blogged the most salient parts over at his site (in Dutch).5
Our friends in London launched a new website that now contains videos and slides of all talks from past events. The Utrecht sessions are on there too, so go have a look. It already is an amazing collection of high-quality content. Some of my current favourites are Troika, Crispin Jones and Schulze & Webb.6
The next This happened – Utrecht (number three) is set for June 29. Hope to see you there.