Shuttle troubles, meeting Erin Kissane, and more rain


The beginning of SXSW day 2 brought more disatisfaction with the R&R Limo and Bus transportation service. There were some reports of waiting over an hour and others missing some of today’s sessions.

Today was also the first full day of sessions at SXSWi and the day of Trey Ratcliff’s photowalk. It began with “Brands as Patterns.” Brands, argued the panel, exist in media that is ever changing and iterative. The brand itself may change once every 4 years, though. Instead, brands should be the interface, they should become iterative. The way they do that without losing the permanence of the brand is through patterns.

When you hear Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, it begins with the instantly recognizable four note pattern. Imagine that being played 45 times. It would not be interesting in the least, right?

It may then surprise you to find out that’s exactly how many times the pattern is repeated in this piece. However, each time Beethoven repeats the pattern, he does it in a new, fresh way and Brands should be the same way. In the end, Beethoven’s genius was described by one expert not in the individual bit of pattern he wrote, but the long sentences he mastered using that pattern.

Dave Hogue talked about reducing complexity and designing for simplicity. Oftentimes, we will begin a project very excited, but as complexity rises with input from others, new feature requests, etc. we lose energy for the product and finally something happens that halts the never-ending march towards complexity. The server can’t handle it, it breaks something else, etc. From there, we need to reduce the complexity using clarification, structure, and flow until its ready to launch.

I met Erin Kissane, one of my favorite writers, today at the “Rude Awakening: Content Strategy is Super Hard” session. We briefly talked about content strategy as a leading role on projects and how I might play a part in that. I’m also proud to say, I didn’t gush like when I met Jason Santa Maria last year.

Finally, the last session played off one of my interests—the intersection between physical architecture and interaction design. The two speakers, one an interaction designer and the other an architect, explored the notion that interaction design makes place in two-dimensional environments and architecture makes place in a three-dimensional environment, but both are seeking to fulfill more or less the same set of needs. These include functionality and reliability to higher order needs like proficiency and creativity. Definitely an interesting talk, especially near the end, I just wish we could have talked a bit more.

Tomorrow starts day 3 and my schedule takes a decidedly more UX turn. See you then!

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