A first timers experience at Ixd17

Reflecting on my first international design conference

1. Technology fails, but don't get too hung up on it.

I want to start with the bad, so by the time you finish scanning this article you actually leave on a positive note. Consumer technology has a natural tendency to fail. So yes, there were a few failures. In one talk I attended they were unable to get the slides on the big screen — the speaker picked up his 11-inch MacBook Air and tried showing the visuals to the auditorium. Of course, barely anyone could see and eventually he gave his laptop to the audience to pass around. 

While a funny anecdote, I want to add that this talk was one of the best that I attended at the conference. The speaker was great, took the entire situation with a sense of humor. Most of all, he did an amazing job of trying to explain complex ideas without visuals. 

The second glitch was when the videos ceased to work on the final awards ceremony. It was a bit of disappointment because the videos were really well made and quite interesting. The organizers handled the situation well enough and I ended up watching those videos on Vimeo.

So there you go. Two technical glitches that I remember — not too bad. But it does make you think- why cant technology just work?

2. How is this completely volunteer driven? That's amazing.

Alright, lets get to the good stuff. During the conference we were told that the event, the entire organization and everything really is entirely driven by volunteers. Everything from the grassroots organization of local chapters - to this massive conference in the middle of New York city.

The fact that so many people - many of them at the very forefront of this field are willing to devote their time to promote young designers like me is invigorating! Which that brings me to my next point.

3. Yes, amazing people are working on the same things that interest you.

Im in school - graduate school to be precise- I am surrounded by all kinds of research into the future of Design (yep, capital D). I absolutely love this aspect of my program. However, being a bit of a pragmatist, I often consider ideas that we study about (critical design, design futures and systems thinking to name a few) a little impractical. To my astonishment they were all being discussed by people at this conference — each speaker finding a way to use these ideas into real products and services.

So yes, amazing people are doing the work that interests you. All it takes is to go out there and find out who they are.

4. Want to see where the industry is going? Just go to this conference and see.

While some of the trends at the conference were a sort of affirmation of what I had already studied at school - others were completely new. Some of these ideas were not being talked about at my school. But more than a single trend or idea, what I got was a sense of where the field is going.

5. I guarantee you will feel pumped leaving the conference.

So design is awesome. It really is. But there is a weird type of isolation in design today. Working for startups and agile design teams, I get the sense that many of us feel alone. This conference is a little haven for 3 days. It is amazing being surrounded by over a thousand of people, just excited about this field as you are and facing the same issues and struggling with the same problems as you.

So yes, if you’re considering going to this conference, I would highly recommend it.


Some links for reference: While they haven’t done so yet, I believe all these talks will soon be uploaded on the IXDA Vimeo channel — https://vimeo.com/ixdaglobal

If you are considering attending the next conference: http://interaction18.ixda.org/

Thanks for reading!

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