Originally uploaded by mbiddulph.
Matt is in San francisco at Foo Camp (Friends of O’Reilly) an awesome sounding invite-only web geek conference (or unconference where participants make up the conference by signing up to give talks and people camp out or in this case sleep on office floors) and I can’t help but feeling somewhat left out. As an interaction and industrial designer, where the hell do I get my networking done? Where do I get to mingle with like-minded people in a formal/informal setting? Where do I get to hang out with my peers who understand what i do and get stimulated by great work being presented, cold drinks and inside-jokes?
CHI ? Pff, too many events, not homy enough and too technical and structured and bloody expensive at that. Doors of Perception? Well i’d need to get shots for malaryia… and very theme-based again. SIGGRAPH? Well I’d feel not geeky enough and i didn’t go to MIT : P
Then there’s the “festivals” of the industry where it really gets boring. There’s SIDIM for a nice display of bathroon appliances and plastic swatches, then the London Design Festival which is great but always feels like i have to take a week away from my life to see everything and it’s more of an urban activity anyway…. same for the Salone del Mobile in Milan, where you could find really interesting things or get stuck looking at chairs all day if you’re not savvy enough or new to the scene.
Ok so what would i like to see happen? Well… i’d love to see people in an old abandoned warehouse or something, gather up their cool projects, their work, their work in progress products, interactions, etc… and then hang out and talk about it. Designers, especially industrial, don’t get the opportunity to talk about their work very often, what influences them, what they like, what they don’t… we’re all whiny and critical but at the end of the day, its about the result, a lot gets diluted by production and client restrictions. Maybe it would be cool to have the “left-overs of projects”, ie. cool stuff that doesn’t get made but illustrate that person’s thinking. To have a kind of informal structure that’s not based around exchanging business cards between talks (if you happen to be able to approach the speaker and beat the swarms of suck ups away) would be beneficial… more like creating discussions and new opportunities for new thinking through critiquing, chatting, even working on projects right there and then. Kinda like a workshop but less directed and more people around. Multi-disciplinary is also key to an vibrant mix of people…
So is there anything out there that caters to these thoughts? I haven’t seen anything… maybe i should just put my money where my mouth is… maybe i’ll just keep making 10 hour long brunches with people and put up the menu list of who attended after… there’s nothing more un-conferency than a brunch after all : )