dConstruct 2010

Once again Brighton-based Clearleft prepared something special for those who attended this year’s dConstruct conference. Ivanka and myself had the pleasure to be amongst the lucky ones who managed to grab a ticket.

The line-up was formed by some of the most prominent names in design thinking:

  • Brendan Dawes
  • David McCandless
  • Hannah Donovan
  • James Bridle
  • John Gruber
  • Marty Neumeier
  • Merlin Mann
  • Samantha Warren
  • Tom Coates

Other people have written in-depth write-ups about each of the talks, and the podcasts of the sessions are freely available here (along with more information about each speaker), so I’m going to focus mainly what the highlights of the conference were for me.

Highlights

Brighton Dome

My personal favourites this year were David McCandless (‘Information is Beautiful’) and James Bridle (writer and publisher at Bookkake).

McCandless’ presentation was about data, lots of data. He showed us how he has been bringing clarity to the amalgam of undecipherable information we are faced with every day, in the papers, the Internet, etc; how some of that data is contradictory and confusing instead of clarifying. McCandless does this by analising the data and translating it into beautiful, clear infographics. Not just the aesthetics, but also the relevance of the graphics made for a rather amusing and inspirational presentation.

David McCandless
Photo by David Parsons

Bridle talked about “the value of ruins”, not physical ruins, but online ones. What happens to forgotten websites, where do the ruins of the Internet go, and historiography — the history of history. I have to confess Bridle’s talk was my favourite one: it was brilliantly presented, entertaining (somehow some speakers forget that the audience is there to be entertained, not sleep), and clever without being patronising. The highlight of his talk came when he presented us with 12 printed volumes containing the whole history of Wikipedia’s page “Iraq War” page (shown in the photo below). To be honest, he probably had us all at “Geocities”…

James Bridle
Photo by Marko Mrdjenovič

I also really enjoyed the message from Merlin Mann’s (of 43 Folders fame) presentation. He talked about being a nerd, which for him meant being interested and passionate about something, the uneasiness of knowing that there is always something more to learn, and the importance of always looking for ways to improve yourself. He also mentioned Ubuntu and Canonical in his talk…
Mr Mann talked for almost one hour without the aid of slides, which was rather impressive and very well done.

Everything else

As a regular conference attendee, I’ve made some friends over the years that are too ‘conference junkies’. It’s always a pleasure to see everyone again, have a few drinks and enjoy a nice chat. The couple of nights that I spent in Brighton for dConstruct weren’t an exception.

Brighton also charmed everyone with a beautiful weather on Saturday morning, so a few of us had a stroll around the seaside and on the famous Brighton Pier (including a terrifying visit to the Horror Hotel!).

Brighton

I’ve uploaded some photos (mostly of Brighton) to Flickr, but a search for the ‘dconstruct’ tag will produce far better (and more relevant) photos.

Looking forward to the next one!

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