Thursday, November 15, 2007

Was DUX teh SUX?

…most of the speakers and workshop leaders -- and I suppose, attendees -- appear to be shy of 40 years of age. That means they would have been born sometime after 1967, when systemic thinking was king and every person was treated as a cog in some larger device; and that they came of age in the mid-80s or later, as information technology was replacing systems as the predominant archetypal metaphor.

--Bob Jacobson on DUX 2007: A Great Conference but Fundamentally Off the Mark.

I didn't go to DUX 2007 or any other DUX conferences but I have read that prior DUX conferences have left attendees wanting.

Looked like Bob Jacobson felt that DUX 2007 was tainted by the prevalance of something that sounds like systems design and that the conference would have benefited from more grounding in holistic receptiveness or interest for the breadth and complexity of human experience and how experience designers can understand and interact with it.

I enjoy that Bob Jacobson cautions against confining the potential impact designers can have by (intentionally or unintentionally) excessively narrowing our focus of interest. However, I find it unusual that he would suggest that conference participants were hindered by their age, work experience, and the implications of the times they "came of age" in. Ad Hominem a bit?

Anyway, Jacobson suggests that "economic, thing-maker philosophy" and "making products and services" dominated DUX 2007 and that may well be.

If that's the case, I actually want to go next time and see what it's like. I went to CHI 2007 which I enjoyed but found it a bit more academic and research-oriented than I would have liked. (I was also in a reseach-oriented school at the time though.)

Peter Merholz, the first speaker at DUX 2007, mentioned in his blog that his biggest frustration with the conference was that it was largely paper submission-based and "[t]he moment an academic takes the stage, the conference screeches to a halt".

… pretty much all the academic research shown was simply irrelevant. The matters at the heart of experience design are simply not being addressed by academics, or being done so in a useless manner. I don’t know if its because the subject is too squishy, multi-disciplinary, subjective, or what, but it was definitely a waste of time.

Sounds like Peter would have been interested in more focused or applied presentations.

Granted, "academic" doesn't equate to holistic and human-centered, and non-academic doesnt equate to thing-making-obsessed, but it sounds like Peter and Bob may be in disagreement about what "[t]he matters at the heart of experience design" are or at least the best way to address these matters.

Too academic and theoretical or too applied and narrow-minded? Which one was DUX 2007?

I don't know if one conference can cover both theory and application very well but I would not mind if conferences were more clear on their intention with regard to application and theory.