Thursday, June 25, 2009

HOW Design Conference: Austin: 2nd Day: Afternoon: Last session

My last session of the day was "Craft + Activism = Craftivism" by Kate Bingaman-Burt. Finally, someone who knew how to project to an audience! Kate gave a brief overview of the current craft community and her family ties to the late 70's/early 80's movement. She hoped that after seeing the movement ebb and flow that people would adhere to the strong tenets of making handmade items. She was afraid with the popularity of the "look" of hand-made items there would come a backlash against the production and philosophy of one-of-a-kind items. The ubiquity of a hand-made "style" in stores (yes, Wal-Mart and Target included) begs for a requisite recoil. Her delivery was fresh and she wanted to remind folks that the exact reason crafty items came into being was to be "anti-consumerism". Her work on "Obsessive Consumption" chronicles her work and how she fosters craft thinking/making. She also created the neat illustrations for "Handmade Nation", which was a book and then a subsequent documentary on the craft arts movement.

HOW Design Conference: Austin: 2nd Day: Afternoon

My first session after lunch was "Everything I Know I Learned from Video Games" presented by Dave Werner of Minor Studios. He explored the current immersive state of gameplay and extrapolated some theories on where we are going in the future. He gave a shout-out to Bioware for their upcoming story-driven franchise game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. One of the best features of this panel is how engrossed the audience was and how many questions Dave entertained at the end of his presentation. It was a very engaging session. He is the Creative Director for the game, Atmosphir. He demonstrated the game and described it as "Mario meets Legos". In the game you could build levels and also cooperatively develop the game with friends. It seemed fun. The upshot is that the game is free and the revenue will be supplied by folks wanting to buy better weapons, masks, head-gear and the like. The animation style seemed fun and accessible. Meaning anyone could play almost immediately and you can share. Awesome. I give this session an "A".

P.S. There is also a Beta test sign-up on the site. Sweet.

HOW Design Conference: Austin: 2nd Day - Random

Two books that came up in conversation yesterday to help creatives:

(1) A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future


Managing Creative People: Lessons in Leadership for the Ideas Economy

the first one I endorse wholeheartedly as it helps to deconstruct what constitutes "right brain" thinking and how making associations makes you smart. The second book I am really looking forward to. One of the other HOW Design Conference attendees, Briana Malaspino from Lodge Cast Iron suggested this book. She said it really helped her understand the creative mind set and foster better relationships in her group.

HOW Design Conference: Austin: 2nd Day

We attended the "Design That Matters" session presented by Michael Osborne. If you were feeling tired, uninspired- this was the right session to attend. He showed us the non-profit work he had done from the "Hearts" campaign to the 501(c)3 firm he started named "Joey's Corner". This session had alot of social conscience and a healthy dose of "do what you can do". It made me feel like going out into the world and changing my little piece of it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

HOW Design Conference: Austin: 1st Day: 2nd Afternoon Session

My afternoon session got off to a creative jolt. "Group Brainstorming: Caffeine for the Creative Team" presented by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield was an excellent bracer after my huge chicken fried steak for lunch. They outlined 13 brainstorming principles for groups. They also hawked their books "Caffeine for the Creative Team: 200 Exercises to Inspire Group Innovation" and "Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to Wake Up Your Brain". One of the chief ideas that I felt had merit was to limit a brainstorming session to less than an hour and a half. They called these sessions "brainsqualls" because they came and went quickly and produced many possibilities. They also suggested announcing the brainsquall session to give people enough time to generate ideas. This workshop was chock-full of great tidbits and it was liberally sprinkled with fun arty-sketchy-doodly exercises. And, I met some great people at my table. We also got to play with play-dough. How bad can that be? I give this session an A.

HOW Design Conference: Austin: 1st Day

We got off to a rousing start to the morning with "Overcoming Creative Roadblocks". This was an interactive workshop. The "takeaway" was that creative folks need to anticipate requisite questions from the non-creative people in our processes who can be our "roadblocks". Several rounds of brainstorming from each table's respective "roadblocks" garnered a small list of "roles" that could suck the life out of a project. Some of the identified roles were: CEO, VP of marketing, Product Manager and Creative Director. The ultimate exercise of the morning was to put ourselves into the "shoes" of the trouble-maker and counter any of the expected questions from the roles' various perspectives. Our group had a lot of fun with this one. Kudos to the presenters Marcus Hewitt and Eric Zeitoun. They kept the session moving while wrapping up the key points to each drill. I wish they had interjected a little more of their experiences in the workshop. Overall, I give the session a B+.