Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Top 10 Presentations at SXSW 2013

by Ellyssa Kroski,  (licensed under CC BY)

South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival held in Austin each spring. The SXSW Interactive event is focused on emerging technology and has a reputation for top-notch presentations on the latest trends and innovations. Here are the ten most popular presentations from the conference last month:

1.) Design Like DaVinci: Leonardo’s Sketching Lessons

Brian Sullivan, Usability Principal, Sabre

Design Like DaVinci — SXSW 2013 from Brian Sullivan

Leonardo Da Vinci is the archetype of a Rennaisance man–artist, mathematician, sculptor, scientist, writer, and more. As an artist, Leonardo produced a very small sample of great work that included the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. Leonardo was a prolific sketcher, producing more than 13,000 pages, which are arguably his greatest legacy.

Within his sketchbooks, Leonardo thinks scientifically and creatively. We see sketches of futuristic devices, detailed drawings of human anatomy, postulations on plate tectonics, observations about diet, exercise, and heart disease. We see sketches of weapons, flowers, soldiers, flying machines, horses, and more. Some sketches serve as wireframes for statues and bridges, while other are early renditions of paintings. For Da Vinci, his sketches were his visual thoughts.

By studying his sketchbooks, lessons from Leonardo emerge. You can improve your own sketching and visual thinking on your design projects. You can design like Da Vinci.

2.) Culture Code: Creating a Company You Love

Dharmesh Shah, Co-founder & CTO, Hubspot

Culture Code: Creating a Company You Love from Dharmesh Shah

Tips From An Anti-Social Entrepreneur. Part of the #leanstartup event at SxSW 2013.

3.) The Sweet Science Of Virality: You Are Bad At It

Adam Mordecai, Viral Curator, Upworthy

The Sweet Science Of Virality from Upworthy
You are bad at Facebook. We are less bad at it than you. Also, the vast majority of your audience is probably on Facebook. (Unless you are Pinterest, but they are on Facebook too. Just sayin’.) You are probably not good at the sweet science of internet virality, that special concoction of optimization, finding or creating quality content, and then maximizing it’s potential. We will teach you all our secrets to optimizing social media to drag traffic kicking and screaming back to your site.
Headlines, share images, vague descriptions, good content, and smart testing are a start. There is a science to virality. It’s not as haphazard as you think.
So ALL ABOARD the interwebs science train!

4.) Design for Aging, Your Future-Self

Carina Ngai, Product Design, Lead Inflection

SXSW2013: Design for Aging, Your Future-Self from Carina Ngai

The stereotypical product image for seniors entails bigger buttons, bigger text, and bigger screens. When it comes to designing for the elderly, it is not necessary to dumb down technologies. In this talk, we’ll take a different perspective on aging: Rather than focusing on their disabilities such as loss of vision/hearing/memory, we look into the rich dimensions of their lives, their surrounding communities, and discuss how design can contribute in this domain.

We move beyond usability, and introduce “Design for Aging” as a process of innovation. We will present our design research approach in detail, including our thoughts behind the emerging trends on aging. We will share our experience on how we discovered the aging populations’ inspirations, aspirations, values and challenges to their daily lives.

5.) Shut Up & Take My Money: LEGO Does Crowdsourcing

Peter Espersen, Head of Online Communities, LEGO System A/S

Shut Up and Take My Money: LEGO Does Crowdsourcing from Tim Courtney

Come hear from the intrapreneurs with a web-startup mindset who opened the LEGO Group to solicit and deliver crowdsourced products. In 2011, LEGO opened its factory doors with LEGO CUUSOO, allowing fans to propose designs for new products and collect votes from their peers. The LEGO Minecraft proposal in late 2011 took the beta site (and the Internet) by storm and became a hit product of the summer.

But to LEGO fans with high expectations, something seemed rotten in Denmark. Transforming this crowdsourcing dream into reality was a lot harder than stacking a few bricks together. LEGO CUUSOO allowed acute demand to emerge overnight, and when it did, production resources in the traditional manufacturing company remained fixed and finite. The company learned pointed lessons about transforming fan concepts into real products under public scrutiny, and will share hard-learned best practices that will help you allow your fans to drive product innovation.

6.) 5 Trends To Watch For At #SXSW 2013

Gemma Craven, Head of Social@Ogilvy New York

5 Trends To Watch For At #SXSW 2013 — #SXSWOgilvy from Social@Ogilvy

Here are 5 trends to watch for at South By Southwest (#SXSW) 2013.

7.) Ross Snyder, Etsy, SXSW Lean Startup 2013

Ross Snyder, Etsy

Ross Snyder, Etsy, SXSW Lean Startup 2013 from 500 Startups

Continuous Deployment at Etsy: A Tale of Two Approaches

8.) Behavior Change as Value Proposition

Chris Risdon, Lead Experience Designer, Adaptive Path

SxSW 2013: Behavior Change as Value Proposition from Chris Risdon

Design to support behavior change is getting increased exposure as technology has allowed products and services to have a more pervasive role in people’s lives. What impact does the ability to passively collect data and present it back in a meaningful way have in people’s lives?

We are interacting with this data of our everyday lives in new ways. Smart products with personalized intelligence about our behavior help us track how many times we brush our teeth or walk the dog, with the hope we’ll be better at maintaining these habits. Where do these new offerings map on our landscape of products and services? What impact does data have on our behavior? How do data vizualizations amplify persuasion and impact behavior? While more products have an explicit influence on our daily lives, they require you to increasingly relinquish self-determination as a prerequisite for use. How do we design to support behavior change as a value proposition?

9.) Why Designers Should Care About Measuring Success

Alfred Lui, Dir of User Experience Design, Health Jawbone

SXSW 13: Why Designers Should Care About Measuring Success from Alfred Lui

“How do you know this design is better?”
This question stumbles even the most seasoned designers. Businesses are recognizing the importance of design and the competitive advantage that taking a design-led approach offers. Designers are moving up the corporate ranks and we’re now beginning to see titles like “Design Strategist,” “Design Director” and “Chief Design Officer” take hold within organizations. As designers, the decisions that we are now making carry much more weight and inherently, more risk, to the companies we serve.
This presentation proposes 3 questions that designers can ask to tease out measurement of success early in our creative processes. It will explore methods to develop concrete measurements that will enable designers to make faster decisions, create better alignment with traditional business metrics (e.g. Online conversion rate, sales per square inch), and have more courage to push creative boundaries in our work.

10.) Everything Is Not Important

Robert Stribley, Sr Information Architect, Razorfish

Everything Is Not Important SXSW from Robert Stribley

One of the greatest lessons we can teach people as experience designers is that everything is not important. It seems an easy lesson to learn, since after all, it’s our job to sort through huge amounts of information in order to decide and to highlight what is important. Still, it may seem impolitic or it may conflict with our liberal sensibilities to simply say, “That’s not important.” And so we need help.
Our goal then is to provide simple ways to diagnose and treat the disease of Inflated Importance.


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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
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