Friday, August 6, 2004

DIS 2004: Day Three

To say that the final day of the Designing Interactive Systems conference was a DISappointment would be an understatement. In fact, to say that about the entire conference would be an understatement.

The biggest missed (or is that DISsed?) opportunity was the Beyond Human-Centered Design panel. What could have been a really brilliant, edgy panel, became instead a pointless discussion of innovation. The panel never got to the keyword "beyond" or even, unless my memory fails, seriously discussed other philosophies of designing aside from UCD. I feel like there should be a Do Over on this panel.

The final day also featured a discussion on the future of DIS: whether or not it should be combined with DUX (Designing User Experience) or take some other form. What DIS should be, basically. Here's my thoughts on the matter:

To start with: Physician, heal thyself. Let's find out what the users (the conference attendees) want out of the product (the conference). From what I heard, these seem to be a place to:

  • present papers
  • hear about interesting work
  • see and interact with interesting work
  • discuss new issues and theories
  • mingle with colleagues

The problem is that the majority of the conference is designed around the first goal: for academics to present papers. Which would be fine if it was done differently: smaller, workshop-like sessions, to discuss the paper, not just get a lecture on it. How it is now is deadly dull, like boring undergraduate lectures. Having written a good paper doesn't necessarily make you a good presenter.

I'd recommend having more than two tracks, with several smaller rooms instead of two big rooms. Smaller sessions would mean more chance for discussion and personal involvement. Having the papers before the conference would be a good thing too, so that there is discussion about the papers instead of just rehashing them.

A major problem with DIS is attracting less design researchers and academics and more working designers. And not just as attendees, as presenters. They should look at the IA Summit as a model of how to do this well. By attracting more designers, DIS would have more case studies and applied work, instead of the theoretical, which it was over-burdened with this time. It would also have more work to see and interact with. Reportedly, DUX did more of this. This means that there needs to be an outreach to the design communities and to corporations. Many people I've spoken to have never even heard of DIS.

Aside from meeting people, what I really wanted out of DIS was to hear about the bleeding-edge stuff, either projects or theories. The inspiring stuff. And I did get some, just not enough. DIS left me wanting more, much more.

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