The famous Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan once said “We drive into our future using only the rear view mirror”. It’s a quote that has long been at the forefront of technological innovation. Used by naysayers to present the apparent danger of rapid innovation, and conversely by innovation leaders as a way of enforcing reflection and the process of iteration.
At the heart of this year’s conference was the past and the future. Taking learnings from the past to create a more effective, experience-led and valuable future.
The session was kicked off by the ever illuminating Ben Hammersley. Reflecting on the journey the [technology] industry has come through over the past 21 years since the inception of the internet. The energy spent on understanding mistakes, creating better processes, better standards and better platforms, that have led us to the place we found ourselves at now. Where we have the ability to knowingly construct digital and technological experiences with finessé, beauty and exactness, but with challenges and the need to consider user experience in completely new areas, and how the technologies we use impact on society and the interconnected communities that we have created.
Scott Jenson, the lead mobile UI designer at Google, touted a vision of an impending “experience revolution” and “liberated interactivity”. Where the evolution of cheap communication-enabling hardware (NFC, Bluetooth, WiFi) will enable a plethora of “JIT interactions” (Just-in-time). Harnessing the ”ghetto-ised” technology of web and mobile applications to create “lower pain, higher value” experience opportunities for real-world systems, so going from a model of buying software, to installing it and resusing it, to discovering and experiencing, then using and forgetting it. A view that conflicts in many ways with the GPS native service approach that many, including Apple, have somewhat rested their laurels on.
Seb-Lee Deslie performed to his usual high-velocity, high-energy standards. Dragging us back from our post-lunch slumber with a burst of technological and creative excellence, which involved much waving of glo sticks. Opening with his recent PixelPyros installation (for the recent Brighton Digital Festival), he demonstrated how relatively easy it is to repurpose existing web technologies and cheap, ubiquitous hardware to create rich, large-scale compelling interactive experiences. Aptly illustrating the benefits one can find of the combination of coding skills and creative aptitude.
Among other speakers Jenn Lukas stood out as the relative newcomer of the group, already making a big splash in the industry with Code Club – a nationwide network of volunteers, teaching basic code skills across UK schools. She presented a strong case for code learning and growing the female coding demographic. The benefits, but more importantly the reasons why to undertake it. In a world where code is intrinsically linked to so many things we do, the advantage that even the basic programming knowledge can brings is exponential.
The legendary James Burke capped off the day with the most mind blowing session. He demo’d a ‘cosmos of knowledges’ map that he is building to show the interdisciplinary and interconnected nature of how knowledge developed historically and how relevant it is in our world today as you cannot just look at solving one problem in isolation. He went so far as to talk about the future and how the historical requirement to mitigate scarcity which is what value is based on, will be blown out by the ever accelerating rate of disruption game changing innovation and then did a 360 by stating that there is the possibility that what he’s said so far doesnt matter as if nanotechnology takes off it could change everything as you know it. Think personal nano factories to produce anything that you want?! Which of course presents a million and one questions and apparently only 40 years to predict something that we have no paradigm for.
dConstruct has come along way since it’s inception in 2005. Originally an event lodged firmly in developer territory, it has fought hard to break the stereotype. Joining the long, initially unrewarding fight of proving the is strategic and creative value of technology and thinking from the people that work in it.
It’s come out a stronger, bolder, more valuable conference. Curated well by the Clearleft team, it’s speakers are always intelligent, insightful, and on the whole, world-class. Pouring out insights through divergent thought, challenging norms and touting innovation.
In the words of James Burke “all those predictions driving us forward through our history have brought us finally to the unexpected realisation that the future is, suddenly no longer what it used to be”. So whilst we didn’t leave with a typical the list of bleeding edge technologies usually touted at such events, the insight and creative strength of many of the presenters gave a far more beneficial gain; learning, inspiration and a confidence that the routes and approaches we take in our projects at Hypernaked by exposing purpose and meaning through making and ‘playing’ are pushing the boundaries in the right way.
For the full list of speakers see: