City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

IDEA conference, Seattle

Written in


In a week’s time, I’ll be speaking at the IDEA conference in Seattle. Organised by the formidable Peter Merholz, the conference has a great theme, with a nicely multidisciplinary set of speakers. As Peter puts it: "practicing designers from a range of backgrounds discussing their various approaches at helping manage a world of information overload." An honourable intention indeed. Here’s the IDEA Vision Statement:

"Throughout their days, people are engaging with complex information to manage their lives. And designers now realize that information isn’t simply this stuff you find — the appropriate presentation of information helps people make sense of the world around them. This conference addresses issues of design for an always-on, always-connected world. Where "cyberspace" is a meaningless term because the online and offline worlds cannot be made distinct. Where physical spaces are so complex that detailed wayfinding is necessary to navigate them. Where work processes have become so involved, and so digitized, that we need new processes to manage those processes. This conference brings together people who are addressing these challenges head on. Speakers from a variety of backgrounds will discuss designing complex information spaces in the physical and virtual worlds."

I’ll be attempting to summarise thoughts from a few personal interests, dissolving the thinking from my recent Aula presentation in essence of ‘new musical experiences‘. Here’s my abstract,

"Drawing from work in both strategic and operational areas at the BBC in London, I’ll explore some of the ways big media companies are approaching the new media landscape. Far from being marginalised by Web 2.0-style operations, I’ll argue that broadcast media can be reinvented to take advantage of both its traditional strengths and the new environment it finds itself in. I’ll highlight the course we’re plotting between between the top-down, fully-articulated, designed, broadcast models and the fully-participative, emergent, vernacular, open-ended, networked models. Essentially believing there is some value in both, and lots in their potential fusion. This will include examples of strategic work defining the design and navigation principles around the next generation BBC website as well as tactical steps towards this, drawn from interactive products and services made at BBC Radio & Music. This will include using hosting music festivals in Second Life, explorations of ‘Lost’ mapped onto graphical scores, spurious relationships between urban planning and designing media systems and tricks for getting design ‘into the boardroom’."

I’ll be looking forward to seeing Jake Barton again, and meeting quite a few others. (Do say hello if you’re there.). It’s a great program: Michel Migurski’s stuff at Stamen always looks fascinating, there’s a panel on libraries with Deborah Jacobs, Linda ‘continuous partial attention’ Stone, and I’m keen to hear what David Guiney has to say about design work for the National Park Service.

The conference is at the Seattle Public Library, which I’m very excited about. It’s a cracking building. I saw it briefly in 2005, and am looking forward to doing a sort of informal ‘post-occupancy evaluation’ on it. It’ll be interesting to see how much vernacular ‘wayshowing‘ has been added to the building.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: