See Conference in Wiesbaden
Last weekend, I travelled all the way to Germany for the See Conference. The conference brands itself as the conference on visualisation of information, so I expected the talks to cover the subject of data visualisation, especially talks about visualisation of big data – since it is one of our biggest challenge of these days.
The conference started with a talk by Wolfgang Ullrich, which was actually my favourite. In a one hour talk, he reflected about product design in a consumer & capitalistic world. With examples, he showed us how companies are using the new medias (Facebook, instagram, …) to create an image of themselves and how they use their clients to actually spread this image into the world. As an example, he used the notebook brand « Moleskine »: You find thousands of beautiful photos of Moleskine notebooks in a calm, inspirational environment, often with tea cups or candles in the same picture – symbols for creativity and ideas. See the examples on flickr here and here. A very interesting talk that changed a little bit my view on product design.
A second talk I did like was hold by Pablo Vio from jam3 about the Bear71 project. The project is a new, interactive approach to documentary movies on the web and won a Gold Cyber Lion Award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. He talked about the collaboration between designers and developers and how both need to be involved in the creative brainstorming part of the project. It was interesting to see, that jam3 builds their own custom tools for working with the data visualisation. For the Bear71 project for example, the developers built a relatively simply tool so that the designers were able to go beyond photoshop and work directly on the data.
In the afternoon, Dries Verbruggen from unfold.be reflected about the future challenges in a world of 3d printers, personalisation and copyrights. He presented his project « The Kiosk », a portable 3d printer capable of producing and copying objects. They are using their machine to copy art objects and push the discussion about copying into mainstream.
For me, a developer, it was indeed very interesting to hear for a complete day talks about art & design and to deepen the topics through discussion with other participants. Especially the dinner with about 50 visualisation enthusiasts was pretty amazing. A big plaudit for the conference organisation as well, it was very well organised and the videos & sound effects were amazing.
On the choice of topics, I was a little bit disappointed. Branding a conference about the visualisation of information, I expected more on the topic of data and how to visualise huge quantities of it, since these are challenges designers have to deal with in the future. And I expected a more interdisciplinary field of participants. Visualisation of information is the last part of a long chain – from getting the data, to bring it in the right format, analyse it and extracting the relevant things. Designers are only a part of the chain and should know the concepts about what developers and data analysts are doing before (inverse is of course necessary as well). Like Pablo Vio said, everybody working on the project needs to be involved in the creative process and brainstorming – and this was a point I was clearly missing at this conference.
Nevertheless, I am happy that I did the long journey to Germany!