View of Seattle from the space needle

My top 10 talks from Interaction 19

Some cream from the crop at this year’s conference in Seattle

Top talks from Interaction 19

Some cream from the crop at this year’s conference in Seattle

After a long journey home, a post conference skim through my notes and many, many photos of slides, I thought I’d share some rough overviews of my top talks from Interaction 19. There was so much content. All of it pretty high quality. Some of it mundane or repetitive (eg, AI and Ethics — I think we overdosed on 101s here), but some of it making the right provocations or sharing the right insight to edge us forwards as an industry. Or me at least.

My top 10

  1. Jon Kolko — Stories: The Way to Our Heart, and the Key to Design Strategy
    Using rich stories from research to drive action
  2. Chris Seifert — emotions in motion
    A beautiful overview of the value of sound design and how to use it
  3. Simone Tertoolen — Designing for People on the Move
    A brilliantly simple design case study based on simple observations of women and their handbags. Gorgeous product too.
  4. Azmina Karimi: Let’s talk about tatoos, baby
    A great case study of reframing tattoos for post mastectomy women
  5. Jack Morgan — Being Responsible for 1.2 Billion People
    How learning language empowers refugees across the world
  6. Bill Buxton — Wild Design for Living in the Wild
    Designing with and beyond interface, considering the wider system context
  7. Marty Neumeier — Agile Strategy
    Gloriously simple language for explaining design value to business
  8. Tea Ugalow — Normality is stupid
    Powerful talk on different types of diversity and how designing for normality makes no sense
  9. Scott Kubie — How to get the writing done
    Energetic and practical talk on writing
  10. Maria Giudice — The Life of a changemaker
    Bold and tough talk on leading design in an organisation by a true badass i design

1. Jon Kolko — Stories: The Way to Our Heart, and the Key to Design Strategy

Description here

‘Not another talk on storytelling’ I hear you say. Not quite. Devoid of the typical tropes and over simplification, Jon goes deeper into the power of human stories and how to engage the audience with them using the power of cognitive dissonance. Using real audio and photos from research, Jon managed to crank up the emotional responses and make us care about his research participants. In typical Kolko style, there were also great frameworks and theory that accompanied his highly effective presentation style. Probably my number one talk this year.

Telling the story of a drug dealer struggling to get work
Explaining the chemical reactions from hearing real stories
How to get the marginalised or ill understood’s voices heard
A framework for effective human stories: Shown, Emotional, Transportive, Curated, Challenging, Sympathetic, Ethical and Real

2. Chris Seifert — emotions in motion

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This guy had me at the first non slide. But beyond the resonance of his topic with my own interests, I loved how Chris framed the use of sound design so beautifully. Both visually and aurally.

A non slide — pure porn for me
The actual first slide — still pornographic for me
A comment on all the things you can learn from the sound of someone’s breath — fro health to emotional state
Nice framing
What sound design does
Nice framing of time of sound
Breaking things down neatly
An interesting chart showing how quickly we hear vs other senses

3. Simone Tertoolen — Designing for People on the Move

Description here

I had the joy of meeting Simone the evening before and seeing the incredibly clever handbag she designed. In her talk she explained her curious research approaches, and some observations around lost time looking for things in handbags.

Observations from plenty of research of people on the move
Such a great stat
Simone stopped people in the street to ask them for a pen as a way of understanding how women struggled with their handbags
Very simple but powerful observations
Early sketches on the form
Early prototypes
A light that comes on when you open the bag — you’ve got to see it to believe it. A gerat idea beautifully executed.

4. Azmina Karimi — Let’s Talk About Tattoos, Baby

Description here

Azmina told her story of working on P.Ink, a global organisation that educates mastectomy patients about tattoos as a healing option. Getting away with showing plenty of pictures of breasts, she showed how a simple insight led to women being empowered through body art after mastectomy surgery.

5. Jack Morgan — Being Responsible for 1.2 Billion People

Description here

Channeling Downton Thespianism, I felt the inadequacy of my own British accent when Jack took the stage. Immaculately dressed and bellowing authoritative enunciations, Jack told the story of learning how Duolingo was affecting the world. In particular refugees and immigrants from around the world. Using rich imagery and stories from success stories around the world where language transformed people’s lives, Jack managed to squeeze some tears out of my tired soul. Must watch

Most people learning English (green)
One anomaly in Sweden because of immigration
Charts of Syrian refugees and asylum applications
This guy had spent a year crouched up in a tiny room with no room to move
A documentary that the team made to illustrate what had been learned

6. Bill Buxton — Wild Design for Living in the Wild

Description here

Bill took us on a historical journey to make us more aware of the wider content in which we design products and services. How to think beyond but also around interfaces in given places and other contexts.

Levels or orders of intelligence manifestation
A made up word to center us on focusing on given places
A cry for the use of the word Ubiety (harder to say but more useful) over Ubiquity
A history lesson to remind us of the power of HotSync for Palm to be the success it once was
The importance of designing the systems between devices and touchpoints

7. Marty Neumeier — Agile Strategy

Description here

I’m a Marty fan boy. In this talk — controversial in many ways — I enjoyed his new take on agile strategy. Reframing design’s efforts in the new world we find ourselves in so that it better resonates with business. He held back a lot of useful content in his Q+A because he wants people to read the book. I can’t wait.

8. Tea Ugalow — Normality is stupid

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Tea was one of the most animated and colourful of speakers. Referencing her own changes, she illustrated various ranges of diversity that make none of us normal.

Tea’s transformation from Tom
Typical bell curve on ‘normality’
We are all ‘excluded’ in some ways
Different aspects of diversity from physical, medical and neurological

9. Scott Kubie — How to get the writing done

Description here

Scott brought the energy and some practical advice to the challenge of writing. So many tips, so clear, so good. I bought his book instantly off the back of it.

10. Maria Giudice — The Life of a changemaker

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Maria is one of the boldest design leaders in the field, and a hero of mine ever since her wisdom on a panel at Interaction 15 in San Francisco. She’s also a fellow member of Group of Humans, and so it was lovely to have the excuse to talk to her this week.

In her talk, Maria recounted lessons from leading design at Autodesk. A healthy dose of humility and realism with strong messages for us all.

Maria is definitely a badass rebel
Maria’s mission at Autodesk
Maria’s simple vision
One of Maria’s tactics at Autodesk was a designers coming out party
Are you a changemaker?
Build a coalition of the willing
Tapping into exec support
Always valuable
Very important message
Definitely one of the most important points of the conference
Something I am glad Maria does — stay real, don’t lose your soul
A classic message
An important diagram explainning tghe messiness of the journey ahead
Important lesson. Failure is inevitable but persist through it
Key takeaways — useful for all, leader or not