I had an amazing weekend and wanted to blog some of my adventures. First up was dConstruct 2010. On Friday, I volunteered for dConstruct for the second time. The conference has a fantastic atmosphere and helping out is great fun. The mood on the reception desks is good, there is a team of fascinating people, and the registrats were all friendly and patient.
In return for helping out, volunteers are able to sit in on some of the presentations. I watched John Gruber, Hannah Donovan, James Bridle and Tom Coates.
John Gruber spoke on The Auteur Theory of Design. He underlined the importance of working out who had the ultimate say in a project. Gruber said it was vital to ensure that the person in charge was an expert and could distinguish between the results, otherwise their opinions were little more than guesses. I'm not sure how well the auteur model applies to web projects overall, but I can see the importance of working out who has Final Cut.
James Bridle's talk was fascinating, featuring the death of Geocities, the library of Alexandria and a 12 volume publication containing the complete history of wikipedia's Gulf War article – the photos of this are impressive. Bridle introduced me to the sport of wiki-racing, which involves finding the fastest route between two articles: "Human knowledge as game space". One idea I took away from this was that of cities as wikis, with multiple collaborators and a history.
My favourite talk of the day was from Hannah Donovan, Jam Session: What Improvisation Can Teach us About Design. This started with an improvised performance by three musicians and went on to discuss how musical improvisation works. Donovan suggested that improvisation had fewer inhibitions and was more expressive. She looked at what is needed for successful improvisation (ie technical skill, rules, communication and expression) and discussed 4Chan and twitter as improvisations.
Of all the talks, Donovan's had the most relevance to me, particularly in relation to the Not for the Faint-Hearted sessions. When I next speak to Ellen, my co-host, I want to talk about introducing a collaborative/improvisational exercise to the next session.
dConstruct 2010 was a fantastic event. I've been following the responses online and am looking forward to hearing the podcasts of the sessions I missed. Thank you to Sophie and clearleft for inviting me to volunteer.my mailing list