|Nico Macdonald | Spy|
Events on design and technology
Programming events allows ideas to be publicly challenged and new discussions to quickly emerge
I began programming events with Design Agenda, and have continued to program events myself, in collaboration with other individuals, and as part of conference committees for ACM SIGCHI, AIGA Experience Design, the British HCI Group and spiked-IT. My approach to programming events is to find new areas or angles of interest that need to be explored, work with relevant collaborators, find original and appropriate presenters (not ‘the usual suspects’), work with them on effective communication, logically structure discussion and debate, and document the event, both for participants and others. Events I programme are almost universally well-received, and the AIGA Experience Design London Forum I founded in 2000, and continue to programme, is considered to be invaluable by many attendees. I am available to programme and chair events in London, the UK, or abroad.
17 March The next Innovation Reading Circle will be on Energy futures, discussing Energise! A future for Energy Innovation by James Woudhuysen and Joe Kaplinsky [Amazon.co.uk] and will take place on Monday 6 April [was 9 March] in London. See Future events.
12 March 2009 Our next Innovation Forum, Conferences Redux, takes place on the evening of Tuesday 24 March. We will bring together people who attended or spoke at some of the key idea led conferences of the spring – TED, Lift, ETech, and SXSW – to report on the event themes and highlights, and what they learned. All at a new venue, The Sense Loft in Soho. Do join us. Future events are planned on the Web at 20 (in early April), the future of the book, interaction design beyond the GUI, and creative strategy and the future of business.
Future Media Summit
I programmed and produced the Media Futures Conference, a one day exploration of the dynamics and trends shaping the future of media. Attended by 250 people representing a cross-section of disciplines and roles, it hosted thought-provoking presentations, panels and lively debate, while showcasing innovative projects. We will document the event as usual and contact interested people accordingly. We hope the outputs will be stimulating. Please contact me if you would like to be referred to the documentation when it is ready.
30 May 2008 Chaired the first day of the ‘Future Flux Design in an Era of Continuous Innovation’ student conference for Central Saint Martins on Monday 9 June, with speakers including Peter Day (BBC), Saul Albert (The People Speak), Anthony Rowe (Squid Soup), and Rosy Jones. The event was programmed by Bob Cotton, author of Futurecasting Digital Media, and included an OnTrial debate around the contention that ‘Designers can save the world and make money too’.
We have produced six events in the Innovation Forum event format I have developed. The last event was Innovation Beyond the Crisis: Debating the role of innovation, which took place at Hub Kings Cross. It was a response to the lack of fundamental future focus around the financial crisis, and presented a number of rich veins we might pursue in response to it. The last events, in the Future Media series, was ‘The New new journalism’. The previous event was ‘Walking the talk: increasing innovation in the media sector’, and stimulated a vociferous discussion on the nature and scope of innovation. In the Design series, an ‘in conversation’ with IDEO co-founder Bill Moggridge entitled ‘Designerly Thinking’, elicited a smart discussion from the audience, and more positive feedback than we have had for almost any event. Prior to that in the Future Media, programmed with Ian Jindal, we hosted an event entitled ‘Soapboxes in cyberspace’ which looked at the pressure on the media to facilitate a ‘political commons’ online, and investigate why it has yet to succeed in this area. I was surprised by how little evangelism was demonstrated by the panelists directly involved in social media. This and the thoughtful comments from the audience this constituted the key insights from the event, which has been fully documented. The first event, ‘Who wants tomorrow’s papers?’, investigated the future of newspapers on- and offline in a cross-disciplinary fashion. Documentation and links to reviews in the media and related Weblog posts can be found on the event page. The next event, which will be in the Future Media series, will be on rich media in the home and beyond broadcast.
28 March 2008 The Innovation Forum event I co-programmed with Tobi Schneidler of Maoworks, Flaneurs: The network is the city, at the BOX space at the London School of Economics worked out very well. It was a creative workshop on mobile urban services for the 2012 Games and attracted a smart group of people, who developed some though-provoking concepts. We also had wonderful and engaging presenters, and an interesting dynamic was created between the participants, who came from disciplines across innovation and industries around mobile services. We are working on how to document the event and outputs. Photos can be found on Flickr with the Upcoming.org event tag.
Re-Designing Business conference
The debate about the relationship of design and business has reached a new height. UK Chancellor Gordon Brown opened the 2005 London Design Festival talking about design as a centrepiece of modern economies responding to globalisation. Beyond this remarkable development design is discussed as a way of informing business strategy, and as a tool for designing organisations. Publications including BusinessWeek and Fast Company have pushed these themes, developing on events such as the Chicago-based Institute of Design Strategy Conferences, and work at institutions such as Rotman School of Management and the recently inaugurated Stanford d.school. The d.school is associated with IDEO, whose principle Tim Brown advocates these new roles for design.
What is the power of design in business, and is there a working model for design-led companies in an age of globalisation? What insights can design really give to business strategy? What is really unique about design thinking and methods compared to management consultancy and other analytical approaches?
I am proposing a conference investigating these themes, based around a number of presentations, panels and debates. It will feature international speakers, including some of the leading proponents from this debate where it originated, in the US. This will take place during 2008. If you would like to review the proposal please email me. An earlier version of this idea was pitched to the RSA in 2001, but was perhaps before its time. Recent developments appear to have caught up with it.
I have developed a proposal for an extended seminar and workshop in London to discuss how new applications for broadband can be developed, particularly in the context of the networked home, and to start the process of conceiving and communicating these innovations. The event, working title ‘Designing the Future’ will consider the dynamics that shape innovation and new product adoption, including technological possibilities, viable business models, social trends, regulation and government policy, people’s needs and desires, and market adoption dynamics. We will use design methods and processes to help synthesise thinking and insights, and scenarios and concepts, facilitating informed critical feedback and event documentation.
From pure science to product development
I am also proposing an event on the relationship between pure science and R&D, and business and design. The overall theme is how we can effectively innovate in the future, and re-establish the legitimacy of human progress and increased quality of life. The proposal will be put forward to the Royal Institution in London.
28 October, 2008 Chaired the New Media Knowledge panel event on the future of newspapers entitled ‘What Happens to Newspapers?’ in London, with a very experienced panel and savvy audience. More information...
23 September 2008 Chaired an ‘RSA Thursday’ lunchtime talk at which Michael Hanlon talked about his book Eternity: our next billion years. Audio of event the event will be made available shortly. Information about the book can be found on the Macmillan Science site (UK) and the Macmillan site (US). It can be purchased from Amazon.co.uk.
23 September 2008 Chaired an RSA talk at which Richard Watson spoke about his new book Future Files: The History of the Next 50 Years. The event was fully booked, and more copies of the speakers’ book were sold than at any previous RSA talk. The talk was streamed live via the RSA site, and the video of the talk has been published. I have published notes on the event, including the questions and answer from the ‘in conversation’ element of the event. Information about the book can be found on the Future Files site.
2 July 2008 Chaired the Who Needs Government Anyway? panel at 2gether08, a two-day conference on ‘solving bigger problems’, programmed by Steve Moore of Policy Unplugged and sponsored by Channel 4 and others and hosted at the Rochelle School, in Shoreditch. Panelists were Paul Hodgkin, Chief Executive of Patient Opinion; Sháá Wasmund, of Smarta.com; MT Rainey, Chief Executive of Horsesmouth; and Paul Miller, co-founder of the School of Everything. Overall the conference was stimulating, and stimulated me to begin to critique some of the vogue but flawed ideas presented.
15 May 2008 For Designer Breakfasts I helped programme, and chaired, an event entitled ‘New talents for a new economy: What does it mean?’ which took place at Momentum in Clerkenwell. The event was hung on the DCMS proposals in the recently published Creative Britain – New Talents for the New Economy report. We had excellent contributions from a number of key people working in this field, and the discussion was great. The event was reported in Design Week (Design still needs to prove business case, say experts, 24.05.2008) and I have written up the event in Nico Macdonald Reporting, and Design Week will publish an Analysis piece on the event. We will be pursuing the discussion online, and Ben Terrett of The Design Conspiracy has proposed programming a follow-up event.
18 March 2008 Chaired a lunchtime talk with Clay Shirky at the RSA, at which Shirky spoke around the themes of his new book Here Comes Everybody: the power of organising without organisations (Allen Lane, 2008). Shirky’s book considers the ‘online social explosion’ and ask what happens when people are given the tools to do things together, without needing traditional organisational structures. (More on the book on Shirky’s site.) The talk was more than full and provoked a lively discussion, which we sadly had to curtail due to time constraints. You can find further information on the event on the RSA site. Video of the talk is now available in the Vision section of the new RSA site. Links to reports on the event can be found in the Comments section of the event entry on Upcoming.org.
28 April 2008 Chaired the R&D Society event Using networks to improve UK R&D at The Royal Society, which examined ‘how different networks contribute to improving the R&D performance of individual companies, and UK R&D as a whole, and what can be done by whom to maximise the benefit to UK R&D’. Panelists included Dr Malcolm Parry, Surrey Research Park; Karen Brooks, SETsquared Partnership; Peter Hewkin, Cambridge Network; Tony Jones, London Biotechnology Network; Mark McNally, GINNN; and Chris Williams, UK Displays & Lighting Knowledge Transfer Network.
Friday 30 November 2007 Chaired a panel entitled ‘Evaluating the delivery system ’ at the What is the Creative Workplace conference at the Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design Innovation Centre. The panelists were Bridget Hardy, Head of High Performing Property Strategy and Implementation, Government Estates Transformation Division, Office of Government Commerce; Peter Barbalov of Terry Farrell and Partners; and Terry Gunnery of DEGW. Event information on Upcoming.org. This conference represented the culmination of the BOP! Making Sense of Space research project in which I have been involved with Arup, BT, Imperial, Central Saint Martins, Brunel, AP Futures, Artificial Tourism, and MAOworks.
October 25–26, 2007 Chaired the Interactions thread at the InterSections07 conference, sub-titled ‘design know-how for a new era’, which took place at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in NewcastleGateshead. This was the most significant design conference in the UK since SuperHumanism in 2001, or perhaps since Design Renaissance in 1994.
29 March 2007 Chaired the paper session on ‘Interaction and instructions’ at the Information Design Conference 2007. The conference, which has been revived this year, took place at the Maritime Campus of the University of Greenwich in London. The papers I chared were delivered by Simon Rubens of New Experience (UK); Jose de Souza, a PhD Student in Department of Typography & Graphic Communication of the University of Reading (UK); and Maria de Lourdes Fuentes Fuentes and Maria de Cossio of the Centre for Advanced Studies in Design (Mexico).
BBC Innovation Labs
2005/2006 Worked with Frank Boyd of Unexpected Media and BBC New Media & Technology on a project focusing on ‘outsourcing’ some of the BBC’s new media R&D activity, which is lead by Matt Locke at the BBC. The initiative is aimed at SMEs in design and information technology, with the overall brief focused on ‘Beyond the Browser’. Four Intro events (briefing people considering making a proposal) took place in autumn 2005 and over 100 proposals were received. I was involved in re-developing the BBC Innovation Labs site. Subsequently, three five day Innovation Labs for teams from Yorkshire, London and the North-West (the latter two of which I mentored on), with entry based on acceptance of proposals. Shortlisted projects were offered a £5,000 development commission. Successful prototypes from the Labs were pitched to BBC commissioners for further development funding. Applications for the 2007 Labs close on 12 January. Further information on the BBC Innovation Labs site (which includes a link to syndicated news, Weblog posts from the teams, and a Flickr stream of pictures from the events).
BBC New Media/AHRC Knowledge Transfer Summits
2006 Worked with BBC New Media & Technology and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) on a series of Knowledge Transfer Summits. The first Summits took place in London during March, April and May. They brought together designers in BBC New Media and academics and researchers in related fields to exchange knowledge and learn about each others (approach) to work. I facilitated the Summit entitled ‘Mobile Worlds’. Event documentation can be found on the Tell Me More site.
Thursday 21 September 2006 Programmed and hosted an InSync event entitled ‘A Day in the Life of... The editorial designer’. The presenters were Max Gadney of BBC News Online and Jeremy Leslie of John Brown. This event will took place at 01zero-one in Soho, London, and was part of the London Design Festival.
Tuesday 19 September 2006 Programmed and hosted an Own It event entitled ‘Designing a business’. The presenters were Dave Sanbach, IOGI; Hugh Mason, Pembridge Partners; Dominic Speller, CPA; and Michael Kowalski, Kitsite. This event took place at the Design Council in London and was part of the London Design Festival. Event documentation.
14 September 2006 Programmed a panel during the second morning of the British HCI Group annual conference HCI2007: Engage entitled ‘Practising what you preach’. The panel brought together researchers with practitioners from the BBC to discuss the problems and opportunities around knowledge sharing. The panelists were Professor Angela Sasse, UCL; James Howard, BBC Sport Interactive; Professor Robert Zimmer, Goldsmiths; and Kai En Ong, BBC Factual and Learning. This event will took place at Queen Mary, University of London. The event is documented on the ‘Practising what you preach’ page.
14 September 2006 Facilitated at the launch of the Digital Wellbeing Showroom’s first retail environment, ‘Black & White’, where I reflected on the initiative and publicly interviewed the founders, Alexander Grunsteidl and Priya Prakash. The launch of DWB’s first retail environment. The Digital Wellbeing Showroom is now open at The Shop at Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, London.
2 March 2006 Programmed and chaired an event with InSync as part of the AIGA Experience Design London series entitled ‘Got the message? Advertising meets interactive design’ with Nicolas Roope, Poke; Paul Banham, Agency.com; and Marc Shillum, plan-b (formerly-Bartle Bogle Hegarty). The event took place at 01zero-one in Soho, London, and was attended by over 100 people. Further information and links to commentary on the event.
13 February 2006 Programmed and chaired an event for Own It entitled ‘Profit From Pixels’, looking at the intellectual property issues around interface and interaction design. The event was hosted by the Design Council. Speakers Rachel Jones, Instrata; Tracy Currer; and Jonathan Sellors, Finers Stephens Innocent LLP. Further information.
28 September 2005 Programmed and chaired an event for Own It entitled ‘Creating value: exploiting design innovation in the real world’. Panelists: Chris Downs, live|work; Nina Warburton, Alloy Total Product Design; Mat Hunter, IDEO). This event was part of the London Design Festival and took place during the evening at the Design Council. Further information.
22 September 2005 Programmed and chaired an event with InSync as part of the AIGA Experience Design London series. It was entitled ‘Interact! Games meets interaction design’. Speakers include Ben Cerveny, formerly of Ludicorp; and Durrell Bishop of Lucky Bite. This event was part of the London Design Festival and took place during the evening at 01zero-one, Peter Street, Soho, London. Information on the London Design Festival site.
21 September 2005 Chaired a Design Agenda event entitled ‘Can creativity save the British economy? A talk by James Heartfield’. Heartfield is the author of the Blueprint Broadside ‘The Creativity Gap’. This event was part of the London Design Festival and took place during the evening at the Design Council, London. Post-event information at Design Agenda events.
11 July 2005 Programmed and chaired an AIGA Experience Design London Forum entitled ‘Design and Social Policy’ and featured a panel discussion with Richard Eisermann, Director – Design & Innovation, Design Council; James Woudhuysen, Professor of Forecasting and Innovation, De Montfort University; and Ben Rogers, Associate Director/Head of the Democracy team, ippr. Links to reports on and discussion around the event can be found on the site.
14 June 2005 Programmed a seminar talk by technology writer Katie Hafner with the LSE Institute of Social Psychology. At the seminar, Hafner used the history of the Internet, about which she has extensively researched and written, to make the argument for government funding of basic research, which, she observes, is currently dwindling in the US.
03 May 2005 Programmed and chaired an Own It panel event, entitled ‘Value your work – make more money’, which was hosted at the Design Council, London. The written feedback from the event was very good, and inspired an editorial in Design Week, to which I and one attendees had letters published in response. I have posted notes from the audience discussion.
17 March 2005 Chaired an internal one day conference in London for BBC New Media, entitled ‘Digital Futures’. There were six presenters: Brian Collins, New York-based Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather; Neville Brody of Research Studios; Pentagram New York partner Lisa Strausfeld; Paul Mijksenaar of Studio Mijksenaar; Marco Susani, head of the Advanced Concepts Group at Motorola research in Cambridge, Mass.; Bill Drummond. The event received very positive feedback from attendees.
11 January 2005 Interlocutor and commentator for the Own It event ‘New media: file sharing vs. open source’ at the ICA, London, at which Alex Chapman, solicitor and partner at Briffa & Co. presented.
22 September 2004 Co-programmed and chaired Interact1 Group Debate on the future shape of graphic design and visual communication at the London College of Communication, with panelists Patrick Burgoyne, editor of Creative Review; Nick Bell, designer of the Communicate book and exhibition; and Hugo Manassei, graduate pioneer director of NESTA. The exhibition runs from 23 September–28 October at the Street Gallery, London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle. [Map] Notes from panel.
1-4 August 2004, Cambridge, Massachusetts I coordinated communications for the ACM SIGCHI-sponsored Designing Interactive Systems 2004. The public attendee list gives some idea of the conference dynamics. I also programmed and chaired a panel at the conference, on the theme ‘Beyond human-centred design?’. My proposal paper and panel information is available, including post-panel notes and links to commentary on the panel themes. My paper and the panel presentation are written up in ACM interactions, Volume 12, Issue 2, March + April 2005, pp75-79. References from other presentations can be found on the Post-conference page.
July 2004 Took part in the judging of the 2004 Blueprint-Vitra Design Summer Workshop Competition, which asked designers to address ‘What kind of designs do we need for the interactive environment?’. I wrote up the competition outcomes for Blueprint (August 2004) and wrote feedback on the entries for each entrant. (Piece available on request [email].) I am involved in setting the challenge for and judging the 2005 award.
27 May 2004 I worked with LIFT 04 festival, which hosted a lecture by Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig lecture at the Royal Geographic Society in London. Information about the event is available on the festival site.
ACM SIGCHI Designing Interactive Systems 2002
25-28 June 2002 (British Museum, London)
Four day academic conference with keynotes talks by Bill Moggridge of IDEO, Fiona Raby and Tony Dunne, and Tom Moran of IBMs Almaden Research Center
The accepted submissions from DIS2002 will soon be available in the ACM Digital Library
Dont Blow IT
27 September 2001 (Bloomberg Auditorium, London)
I was a director of this one day spiked-IT conference, the first event in the UK to seriously consider IT post-crash.
3 April 2000 (London)
One day conference co-programmed with Jakob Nielsen, and featuring presentations by Bruce Tog Tognazzini , Brenda Laurel, Ben Shneiderman , Donald A. Norman, and Rick Robinson. This event was the largest Internet-focused design conference in Europe to date.
Designing the Internet
The first major Internet design conference in the UK, with presentations from many people who went on to be important players in the industry, including Andrew Zolli, Peter Girardi, Harold Thimbleby, Karen Mahony, and Simon Daniels.
Panels and Forums
Designing for User Experiences
57 June 2003 (San Francisco)
I programmed a panel entitled How far can design go? at the Designing for User Experiences conference, an innovative collaboration between AIGA, SIGCHI and SIGGRAPH. This was an invited panel of people from inside and outside the industry, who examined the unexplored possibilities of experience design, and where it might be going beyond its reach. DUX2003 is the conference for anyone who wants to learn about designing for user experiences through the entire product-creation process. Presentations were based on peer-reviewed design case-, practice-, or research-studies and sketches. Keynote speakers included Alias|Wavefront founder Bill Buxton, Lotus and Electronic Frontier Foundation founder Mitch Kapor, and veteran design adviser Sara Little Turnbull of Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. Full program.
Notes on the panel are available
13 May 2003 (London)
Facilitated a workshop on transportation and IT at the Common Purpose Vision for London event.
ACM SIGCHI CHI 2003
Co-chair of Development Consortium on Mass Communication and Special Area Chair for Mass Communication and Interaction
5-10 April 2003 (Ft Lauderdale, Fl.)
CHI 2003: CHI is the major annual event for ACM SIGCHI. I programmed the Development Consortium, a two-day thinktank on mass communication and interaction, focused on peer-reviewed submissions. In my role as Special Area Chair I and Ann Light co-chaired the opening conference keynote, focused on this special area, which was delivered by Neil Budde, former editor and publisher of the Wall Street Journal Online. Budde also participated in a panel on 8 April with Dan Gillmor, Mercury News technology columnist, and Michael Schrage, writer and co-director of the MIT Media Labs eMarkets Initiative. (Andrew Zolli, Lead Partner at Z + Partners, had planned to take part but had to drop out.)
Cybersalon: Towards Humane Design
12 June 2002 (Institute of Contemporary Arts, London)
Chaired a panel on commercial design and social responsibility as part of the Westminster University Graphic and Information Design (GID) degree show, in conjunction with Cybersalon. Panelists were: Ken Garland, author of the original ‘First Things First’ graphic design manifesto); Teal Triggs, Director of Postgraduate Studies, Faculty of Art, Design & Music, Kingston University and co-founder of the Women’s Design + Research Unit (WD+RU); and Luke Nicholson, Creative Director, Ethical Media Ltd. For notes on the event please contact me. Event information on the ICA site.
CHI2002|AIGA Experience Design FORUM
Panel: Research, Analysis, and Design
21-22 April 2002 (Minneapolis, MN)
Participants were Dan Russell, IBM Research Almaden, Liz Sanders, SonicRim, and Michael Summers, Scient.
The FORUM was a collaboration between ACM SIGCHI and AIGA, and lead to the creation of the AIGA Experience Design Case Study Archive and the development of the Designing for User Experiences conference.
ACM SIGCHI Designing Interactive Systems 2000
Panel: Merger and Acquisition: The Changing Practice of HCI and Design
17-19 August 2000 (Brooklyn, New York)
This panel, proposed by Chris Pacione of BodyMedia and Margaret McCormack (then also at BodyMedia) for DIS2000, included Gong Szeto, Clement Mok, Harold Hambrose, Karen Mahony, Henry Bar-Levav, Terry Swack, Seth Bain, Gitta Salomon, and Grace Colby.
As the dotcom boom progressed and networking events proliferated I became aware that there was a dearth of intelligent discussion in the public arena of contemporary developments. In the first announcement, in February 2000, I noted that when the hype around the Internet subsides we will need more than dogma and received wisdom to explain what is happening and whether it matters. The four symposia I programmed and presenters were:
Write-ups of the discussions are available on request. The approach and format of the symposia inspired the Design Councils E-Futures and D-Futures thinktanks, and the spiked-IT seminars.
New Design: Design is Mainstream panel
4 July 1998 (ICA, London) One day conference. Conference Director: Alex Cameron. Attendance: 100 (Sold out)
With Design Agenda I programmed and chaired a panel that aimed to get beyond New Labour ‘spin’ about design. New Design was the first public conference to raise critical questions around government and existing design institutions’ celebration of ‘Creative Britain’. Panelists were: Peter York (SRU), Jan Abrams, Caroline Roux (editor, Guardian Space magazine), Michael Bracewell (author). Documentation available on request [email].
Between 1996 and 2000 I convened a number of panels on design and online publishing at the NetMedia conference, which was then hosted in London, including a one-day seminar in 2000. Participants in the events included Matt Jones of BBC News Online, Mindy McAdams, John West of Out There News, Marty Gardner, then at Associated New Media, Meriel Lenfestey of Flow Interactive, Guy Gadney, then at Fish4, Paul Kahn, then at Dynamic Diagrams, Bertrand Man, then at Razorfish, Nick Hall, then at Wheel, Danny Brown, then at Amaze, Rory Maguire of Vivao, and Chris Wright of Digital Bridges.
Thursday 17 October 2002, Gresham College, London I chaired a talk by and conducted an in conversation with Ben Shneiderman, author of Leonardos Laptop: Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies (MIT Press, October 2002) and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland. The event sold out with over 100 attendees, who engaged in a lively debate with the eloquent Professor. This event was part of a series produced by spiked in partnership with Hill & Knowlton and the M3 Research Lab. Read a report on the event in Usability News.
Monday 8 April 2002, London I programmed and chaired a talk by controversial US-based usability researcher Jared Spool, hosted by the British HCI Group and UK Usability Professionals Association, which attracted over 150 people and prompted much discussion.