Tag Archives: #FITC

FITC Toronto 2010 Day 03


The final day of FITC Toronto 2010 has just wrapped up and without a doubt John Underkoffler’s presentation entitled “It Has To Be This” resonates in my mind as the most thought provoking and forward thinking talk of the day -dare I say, the whole conference.

The overall theme for this year’s conference was playground, inspired by childhood memories of tinkering and creating things from scratch; challenging established rules and paradigms of thought. In fact many of the talks I attended over the course of the last 3 days have, in some way or another, shared this common thread by celebrating the importance of experimentation, inventiveness and creativity in all the work we do (or aspire to do).

It’s amazing to witness first-hand the unconventional thinking and problem-solving of individuals like Brendan Dawes, Ralph Hauwert, and Mario Klingemann whose work I would characterize as relentlessly fuelled by a desire to explore the unexplored -to push the boundaries beyond where most would stop. For these individuals (and many more of the speakers at FITC) curiosity is an inherent attribute of research and development where the tendency is to not merely use technology, but effectively invent and shape its future.

Continuing with this theme of shaping and inventing our tools and technologies, John Underkoffler provocatively began his presentation by showing an image of the original Apple computer which he aptly described as a device you purchased, brought home, and it did absolutely nothing until you did something with it (e.g. write a program). Underkoffler’s next slide fast forwards 30 years to the present day displaying an image of Apple’s latest iPod and iPad devices -2 closed and seemingly uncreative tools representing 60 to 70% of Apple’s current ecosystem -that is, 2 devices you in fact cannot use to create anything new. Pausing for a moment I think to myself -brilliant! This is a tangible example of the notion of computer interface going backwards in terms of its ability to be shaped and manipulated. Moreover, this was a perfect segue into one of Underkoffler’s arguments that we must ultimately abandon traditional screen-based user interfaces and input devices (e.g. windows, pull-down menus and buttons designed and optimized to be driven by a mouse) in favour of something new in the form of g-speak (g short for gesture).

Underkoffler’s g-speak research is essentially a real world, working prototype of the gesture based UI first seen in the futuristic science-fiction movie Minority Report. But, this isn’t science-fiction  as Underkoffler explains, this will be commonplace for most computer systems in 5 to 7 years time.

We’ll have to see what the future holds  for physical gesture based UIs -but for the time being I suppose we’re still stuck with our clumsy mouse inputs and tablets.

FITC Toronto 2010 Day 02

image taken from Brendan Dawes' illuminating talk: The Grammar of Interaction Design
Slide taken from Brendan Dawes’ illuminating and entertaining talk: The Grammar of Interaction Design – FITC Toronto, Day 02

It’s now the end of the 2nd day of FITC Toronto 2010, (now in it’s 9th year) and once again I’m feeling simultaneously overwhelmed, inspired, tired, happy, creative and generally just a little sandwiched full of information at this point. When I say it’s a bit overwhelmed, I honestly mean it in a really good way. I feel there’s so many amazing stories to absorb and people I’ve met, plus hearing talks from some of the brightest and best designers, developers, entrepreneurs and creatives in the business -the word stimulating is an awful understatement.

The funny thing I find about attending design conferences -and to be fair FITC is so much more than a design + technology conference, but a conference for people who make really interesting things, are the very real interactions and social connections they furnish us all who attend. Simply sitting behind a computer on Facebook or texting a friend is just not the same; watching one of the talks recorded, streaming on a Web site -not even close. You really have to be there, see and hear people talk and exchange ideas with others in the flesh to realize the value of going to a conference. In fact I tweeted about this 2 weeks before FITC while reading a post here arguing that conferences are merely just expensive blog posts -bah, absolutely not!

Robert Lindstrom, North Kingdom - An Inside View
Robert Lindstrom, North Kingdom – An Inside View

What I’ve realized is that conferences are like gigantic meet-ups where you get the opportunity to network and cross-pollinate working techniques, gain insights and knowledge into how others do what you do. When I meet other individuals who are as passionate about the same things that get me out of bed in the morning, I get energized. Creatively this is like being a kid in a candy store -I can’t really describe it -I just feel like I want to go out and make something amazing -something original -something creative and new, I don’t know.

Off to bed now, day 03 approaches!

Double L Rule
Grzegorz Kozakiewicz, Analog Designer in a Digital World

FITC Toronto 2010 Day 01

As I make my way to FITC Toronto 2010 Sunday morning, tumbling through the schedule trying to decide which presentations to attend, I admit to being just a little intrigued by the title of Jamie Kosoy’s talk: The Importance of Whiskey While Working (and other work flow tips, too!).
Kosoy, who works for one of the most prolific digital agencies in North America (Big Spaceship) as a technical technical director, delivered a rousing presentation full of insights into effective digital work flows, orchestrating positive team dynamics, and of course, Whiskey-inspired anecdotes into their studio’s creatively unconventional approach.
Whiskey it seems, serves as the perfect metaphor for staying loose, agile and open-minded when embarking on complex digital design campaigns as Kosoy describes.
Of course, the work produced by Big Spaceship is innovative to say the least, emphasizing problem-solving on a level most organizations perhaps only dream or talk about implementing. Nevertheless the benefits of the odd shot of Whiskey now and then can be beneficial to any team open to think beyond the box once in a while.

Here are a few memorable take-away ideas from from Kosoy’s talk I was able to jot down:

  • Try to stay positive; with a lot of the talk lately surrounding economic uncertainty in the workplace, client projects can suffer -try not to take everything so seriously -have fun.
  • Whether you are a designer or developer please name your damn layers! -in the future someone will eventually need to go back into your files and find something.
  • Don’t pigeonhole yourself or other team members into being called a Flash developer or a PHP developer (and so on..) -specialist labels are never an accurate reflection of the work most of us do on a daily/weekly basis -you are a multi-talented, multi-disciplinary team member.
  • Check your ego at the door. Big egos and attitudes undermine team collaboration. If you can’t work well with others, you might as well stay home.