A few weeks ago I discovered the Seattle Interactive conference. Two people I follow on Twitter were scheduled to speak, and I like them, so I passed the info on to my boss — I thought someone else from the company might want to go.
Turned out I got to go. Yay, me! Two days of not sitting at a desk! I was busy enough that I didn’t pore over the schedule, but I figured it would be an abundance of educational riches.
Then last night Dylan Wilbanks tweeted several reasons why he wasn’t attending. One example: “I don’t understand how you can have an interactive conference in Seattle without any actual designers and coders.”
Huh, I thought. And I hoped Dylan was underestimating the conference. And I envied his upcoming trip to UIE in Boston. And I made some time to glance over the schedule, and my heart sank a bit.
But I was going. As I walked into the conference center at 9:00, I figured I’d be a little late for the opening session, but it would still be a good day.
At 10:05, I finally got registered. Yes, I spent an hour in line, at least in part because the organizers split the alphabet into thirds (A-H, I-P, Q-Z) without figuring out that A-H represented far more than a third of the attendees. That didn’t bode well.
The first session I made it to talked about how your UX needed to be flawless, and that UX was more than UI. If the term “cross-channel design” came up, I didn’t catch it. I am sure that the word “content” was never mentioned, although the two examples given of sites with less than inspiring UI that still had great UX were Craigslist and (early) Amazon, which thrive precisely because they’ve got content that people want. The word “information” was used a couple of times to hint in that direction.
The second session was crammed full of blah blah blah about social media, and trotted out the notion that you need to be authentic. (In the Q&A, the presenter authentically dodged a question about whether or not he thought Klout was worthwhile, because saying something negative about it would damage his business.) Also of note: Kenneth Cole’s tweet about the Egyptian riots being inspired by his sale? Turns out that wasn’t cool. There’s a lesson to be learned there: Don’t be uncool. Except maybe KC wanted the controversy. But the controversy was bad and revealed KC’s inauthenticity. But there was no discussion about whether or not it actually cost KC any business. But we’re still talking about it today, so obviously, bad move.
I should’ve left that one when the “yo dawg, we put Facebook in your Facebook” meme was compared to Foucault, because really? Foucault?
For the first afternoon session, I went with a winner: Christopher Johnson’s talk on Microstyle. I stacked the deck, there, because I’d seen him give an early version of the presentation at one of our Content Strategy Meetups. Johnson spoke about how small messages can carry a lot of brand personality, and gave examples that I hadn’t seen a dozen times before. Bravo!
The digital storytelling seminar that followed was highly non-boring, and occasionally verged on the practical. Write a logline to sum up your experiences and help you remember them: Not bad advice.
The final seminar promised to explore “Making a Mess” and dive into “the importance of creative exploration,” but was really a showcase of work that Digital Kitchen has done recently. It was nice work, but very little “mess” was explored. The high point was a slide that said “If you know what you’re doing, you aren’t trying hard enough.” Would’ve been a magnificent tweet — as evidenced by the multiple retweets — but it made for thin gruel in a 45-minute presentation that was notably non-messy, given its title.
And that was that. Admitted: I may have picked bum presentations. But as of now, I’m not at all sure why this cost five times more than InfoCamp, or cost anything more than BarCamp, given that I got less insight out of four of five presentations than you get in an average article in A List Apart.
Here’s hoping tomorrow is better.