Sunday, April 27, 2008

IDSA Western-District Wrap Up

This weekend marked the culmination of months of work for many of us working on the Western District IDSA conference. There was, as is often the case, a strong showing of students about to graduate and looking for work. From my experience of the job market, they may have a tough road. I met a particularly enthusiastic group of students who were attending all 4 conferences in search of work. One said he had 15 interviews at the NE conference, but was not so lucky here.

There were a wide range of speakers, many with traditional ID backgrounds: Max Burton touting the new Nike Sports Band - though I have to say I think the original Nike Plus with audio prompts exceeds the user friendliness of an interface you have to stop to look at while jogging. I do LOVE the simple interface they shared which downloads your run in a slow, sweeping curve instead of just a pop up of the data. It almost feels like you are doing your run again.

Howard Meehan and Carson Lev took the spots for old guard designers who had made and remade themselves into many fascinating iterations.

Wendy March of Intel did a wonderful job of turning design on its head, as always, posing new ways of looking at things and encouraging us to turn into, instead of away from "boring design" and pay attention to the little things, "like lunch" that will be with us for years to come.

My unexpected favorite was Winston Wang of TMobile's Creation Center. He talked about "orchestrating socialization using wireless technology." I love it. I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise by now, but I'm happy to see so many hi-tech companies saving creative space for researchers including design research and ethnography. He shared some of the fascinating work they are doing with gesture and call management.

Finally, Greg Raisman hit the proverbial ball out of the park with his great presentation sharing the issues behind bike parking and traffic calming. These seemingly static problems were made concise and interesting by Greg's enthusiastic presentation. PDOT is working hard to make sure bikes, cars, pedestrians, etc. can all safely share the road. The thoughtful attendees of this workshop came up with great solutions keeping material costs down, but cleverly working within the set parameters. I will take a moment to humbly comment that this design charette was put together by myself, Zara Logue and Steve Chaney. Portland's bike community also came out to share their input including bike aficionados Bill Stites, Jonathan Maus, Mark Lear and Sarah Figliozzi of PDOT and Teri Peterson and Ronnie of SCRAP.

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