The Information Architecture Institute
A conference on designing
complex information spaces of all kinds.
New York City, October 4 and 5, 2007

Dan Hill, The new media

Dan Hill (BBC & Cityofsound.com) gave what might have been the greatest unintentional experiment in mass communication at the conference - his fantastic slides hinted at many interesting crossover ideas, but was unfortunately combined with a sound experience that left most of his utterances incomprehensible. I was seated 5 rows back, on the far side stairwell from the podium, but despite my attempts to relocate to beter audio conditions, couldn’t make out most of what he said (And afterwards I learned I wasn’t alone). Between a low range podium mike and his informal delivery, many of his words didn’t make it intact to my ears.

But that said, I’m far more intrigued to get my hands on his slides than any other material at the conference. So what follows is an extrapolated recap of what the ideas that reached my ears (or were invented for my by my little brain).

Key points:

  • Interactive media is out of the designers control. But can a designer design with an out of control medium?
  • Other media has paths we can follow. He offered several fascinating examples from music, including George Crumbs spiral orchestral score - a design pattern Hill applied to both the lost TV series as well as interaction design.
  • Urban planning - (He scored points for refering to LeCorbustier’s work as insane but beautiful, a sentiment I share). Explored how these models of interaction can be borrowed from for digital works.
  • Composers vs. Performers. He offered that design for interactive, social systems demands thinking more like a composer, who’s work is interpreted by others, and designers, who’s users make use of the spaces for their own aims. He suggested that co-creation is a better model for designers that the designer as solo-artist many are trained to have.

If Hill makes his slides available, and I hope he does, it’s definitely worth a thoughtful look. Even without consistently comprehensible audio, I found many layers of ideas in his carefully designed deck.

Dan also wins 10 presentation award points for the best historically relevant audio/visual aids: including a rare LP of one of John Cage’s experimental works on LP.

-Scott Berkun

1 Comment »

  1. cityofsound said,

    October 25, 2006 @ 8:45 am

    Wow Scott, had no idea that I was largely inaudible! Someone else mentioned it, but most seemed OK. The acoustics of the hall were weird, and it was very difficult to tell if you were audible or not. But when people laughed, it was in the right places, so I figured I was broadly OK :)

    Anyway, thanks for the kind words - appreciated - and Peter has the slides … Some of the thinking has been spelled out on my blog previously here - http://www.cityofsound.com/blog/2006/08/movements_in_mo.html - so you can get a bit of detail there. D.

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