Since the SXSW conference buzzword was convergence, Chelsea Holden Baker of Frog Design looks back at convergent themes of three panels in three synthesizing steps, and a little bonus at the end:
John Gruber (Daring Fireball) and Michael Lopp (Apple), made the case for cultivating discomfort as a designer: "Are you willing to be an asshole?" We took a trip back through the iconic designs (like IBM) of Paul Rand and examined the allure of the Apple logo (whether rainbow-striped or white, what makes it sexy is the bite. It's original sin.). What stood out to me here, however, was discussion of emotion as a physical thing; just a limbic response, a bunch of bouncing chemicals. Because that leads to...
Dan Rubin (Black Seagull/Sidebar Creative), Eris Stassi (Interaction Designer, Apple) and Didier Hilhorst (Interaction Designer, Ideo) shared a saccharine PowerPoint full of hearts and talk about how good design should elicit a response like good sex. Bad design (like ATM machines) can be like a bad, abusive relationship. Essentially: Emotion is essential to good design. (Just keep the limbic system from above in mind).
Frog Creative Director David Merkoski took the stage with Alonzo Canada (Jump Associates), and Helen Walters (Editor of Innovation & Design, BusinessWeek.com) for a panel moderated by Johanna Blakley (Deputy Director, The Norman Lear Center). Here we fast-forwarded to a debatably near future--into the realm of the new singularity--because it's not a matter of when it will happen, it's a matter of thinking about it now; and that doesn't just mean watching The Matrix again.
The panel posited that all the caring and emotion we put into design could lead to the negation of emotion when we create machines that are smart enough to design themselves. But will machines be good designers (and who decides what good means)? Is emotion smart? And then there's the nurture or nourishment question: Will our relationship to the machines/systems be that of pets or food? While this might all be uncomfortable to think about, humor was still alive and well. As Merkoski put it, "There had to be a beeper before there was a cell phone. . . We might just be the beeper." So since we're getting sci-fi, here's to the pseudo-scientific:
The captivating Jim Coudal ("Big Cheese", Coudal Partners), launched into his theory (which essentially serves as a window into the Coudal Partners process), whereby e=mc2 means e (your energy/effort) is equivalent to m (the mass of information available to you) times c (the flash of inspiration), squared (the power of enthusiasm/belief). Or something approximate to that. Coudal showed this video from Steve Delahoyde's (Coudal) series called "Regrets." Essentially, it's a highly creative video about the ability to balance e, m and c, and a desire to hold on to the power of enthusiasm.