Tags: dconstruct2011

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dConstruction of the Fables

dConstruct is over for another year. It was, once again, a day packed full of far-reaching ideas and thought-provoking presentations. Even if you didn’t necessarily agree with everything a speaker had to say, you certainly got plenty of food for thought.

I was playing compere for the day, which was an absolute pleasure. I thoroughly enjoyed every talk, though some of them polarised the audience. It was interesting to see some people rate a talk as their favourite—Don Norman’s or Kelly’s, for example—only to have the very same talks dismissed by other people.

Craig’s impassioned piece on The Shape Of Our Future Book was probably the most polarising of all. Personally, I loved it—especially the story he told. Others hated it, which they made very clear on the Twitter backchannel (which in turn elicited a dickish reaction from me—I don’t mind when people trash my talks but I hate to see my friends getting picked on; I should just avoid looking at Twitter while my friends are on stage).

Both Craig and Kars demonstrated great courage in their presentations—Kars discussed the touchy subject of the recent riots from a design perspective. They have my admiration, as does Kevin Slavin who knocked it out of the park with his assassination of AR, despite feeling extremely poorly. He’s a trooper.

Matt delivered a tour-de-force talk with the help of his Galifreyan prop. Needless to say, Frank wowed everyone with his charm and smarts, but that’s to be expected.

Some people have written up their thoughts:

Some of the reports picked up on the polarising nature of the conference. It prompted Colly to right a thoughtful piece on Conferences and expectations:

With this in mind, I do think us organisers have a responsibility to manage the expectations of our attendees through our websites and other material. Regular attendees will know the score, but if we introduce newcomers to the nuances of events and their intended focus, we can help avoid the vocal disappointment of those expecting something very different for their money.

He makes a very good point. In fact I thought about writing a post right before dConstruct tickets went on sale to discourage people from getting a ticket if they were expecting to be spoon-fed easy answers to difficult problems or to come away with any practical takeaways: it’s not that kind of conference. But I find it quite hard to describe what dConstruct is: it’s much easier to describe what it isn’t.

I genuinely wish that some of the naysayers hadn’t come along to dConstruct—their place could have been taken by somebody willing to meet the speakers halfway. We at Clearleft definitely need to make sure that we make it clear what attendees can expect from dConstruct. But I’m encouraged by Matthew Solle’s defence of the dConstruct ethos:

It is not the responsibility of established events like dConstruct to dumb down its content to appease attendees who are reticent or negative to programmes that challenge, take risks and attempt to look towards an uncertain future rather than settle for appeasement, naval gazing, and safe.

I’m already looking forward to dConstruct 2012.

By the way, the music that was playing during the breaks was curated by Tantek. All the tracks are licenced under a Creative Commons attribution licence:

And here are some sketchnotes from the day: