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Interaction 12 - Critique

Thanks to Matthias Müller-Prove for this story

I’ve summarized my highlights of Interaction 12 already on this blog: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3

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And there are many more, hidden between the tracks. It is an open secret that the interesting stuff happens in the breaks. Meet and greet with long-time-not-seen’s, meeting virtual friends for the first time in RL, and getting in touch with other interaction designers around the world. To that extend, IxD12 was very good.

But I want to bring some light to the dark corners as well. The opening party took place at the Trinity College in the center of Dublin. A wonderful location. I’ve never been so close to the Book of Kells, but this is another story. – What do you expect from a welcome party? To be welcomed. To say Hello to friends. To talk about the first day of workshops. etc. But you I do not expect a long series of presentations on the first evening already. This was an unfortunate attempt to pick up speed and get us me into the mood for the upcoming three days. Have just a party, or do a Pecha Kucha when the audience is I am open to pay attention. All of the presenters would have deserved a better setting.

My second point of crit concerns the main three days of the event: It was a professional conference. Hugh? Yes, for my taste it was too slick. After all those years we are still a young profession. And that could have been better represented with a little more spontaneity, or unconference feeling. For some time I want to write about the idea of a conference experience. You can design conferences much like you can do with tools and software. Just imagine that your app runs for three days (in fact it runs much longer if you include the pre- and post-conference activities, and the twitter stream is still active with all the redux events) and that you have 700 simultaneous users. Live. It is much more like theater or circus.
Then, why do you let the Conference Center choose the music between the talks? Why do you not have some interactive game or art installations during the breaks? Why don’t you encourage (more) Q&A? The audience felt rather tired or uninspired to me. No debates at all. Hey, we do not meet that often. What was going on? Where is the energy in our field?

I should mention –my third point– that I gave up during the 10 minutes short talk sessions. I understand the idea that you want to give as much air time to as many presenters as possible. But the pulsing of 10 minutes talk - 5 minutes nothing or switching between sessions - 10 minutes high - 5 minutes low - etc. was not in synch with my bio-rhythm of attention. Now I would have appreciated the fast paced short talks from the opening party, w/o the 5 minutes breaks of course.

Dear Organizers,
please take my opinion as constructive feedback. I’ve been in your role a few times before. You’ve done a tremendous job to get all this together. But maybe future or other conferences can benefit from my impressions.

cheers, and memorizing the highlights of IxD12 once again.

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