Webstock 2017 Part 2


Web Stock is tech conference like no other, held in Wellington, New Zealand. Once again I left feeling energized and impassioned after listening to all the speakers on such a wide range of subjects.

Day 2

Jonathon Colman (@jcolman) – Wicked Ambiguity and UX

Introduced Tame vs Wicked problems.

Some examples of wicked problems – Designing to communicate with aliens and designing to warn people in 10,000 years about radiation dumps.

We should embrace wicked problems. Thy ignite creativity and hep us to innovate.

Jared Spool (@jmspool) – Becoming an organisation infused with UX from top to bottom

Lots of practical advice on the various stages of how an organisation incorporates UX in to their systems and processes. Great talk. Highly recommended.

Spoke about Disney. How in 90's their website UX was terrible. So bad user's couldn't tell which park they were booking a hotel for. Described the transformation from that company to the company that created the Disney magic band – a $1 billion UX project.

Your goal should be to have your entire team CEO down to individual contributors fluent in UX.

Some plays for getting your organisation to become design driven include…

Immersive Exposure. Understanding the user experience provides understanding of customer problems. Recommends everyone spends at minimum 2 hours every six weeks with customers doing UX testing. Have senior leaders listen in on customer tests and plot the customer happiness on a graph as they go through. Help get leaders to empathize.

Shared Experience Vision. Create an experience vision. Recommends 5 years ahead. Use to provide guidance for critical design decisions. Make sure everyone has a goal to march towards.

A Culture of Continuous Learning. Be retrospective."Why did we fail?". "What did we learn?". Add a new item to every standup – "What did I learn yesterday?" Log the learning somewhere like a slack channel.

Lindsay Aitchison – Designing working spacesuits vs Hollywood spacesuit design

Lots of information about why spacesuits are designed the way they are and some of the difficulties and considerations for designing the Mars spacesuit.

Learned about perchrolates and why they're going to be a problem on mars.

Janine Gianfredi (@alohaj9) – Bringing agile to government IT

Obama brought private sector technical experts in to government to fix healthcare.gov. This was very successful so they started the US Digital Service to bring private sector methodologies and people in to government. Some points for successfully introducing these methods to government were…

  • Hire and empower great people
  • Find the truth tell the truth – you have to be honest up the chain about the issues your facing.
  • Optimize for results not optics – press conferences and quarterly reports shouldnt drive the work being done. Only focus on fixing the real issues.
  • Go where the work is – break down walls. Talk to your customers.
  • Design with users, not for them – There was a wrong assumption in government that government departments couldn't talk to the public directly to get feedback on digital products. This was wrong and they started doing UX testing.
  • Create momentum – If things are moving slowly, and they do in government, create your own momentum. Have weekly goals and hit them.

Jeff Gothelf (@jboogie) – Scaling agile, bringing agile to the entire organisation

Lean and agile seem to fail at scale. Outside of small teams there isn't really an appetite for agile or lean. It's over complicated (see agile landscape v3) and we have complex process definitions like SAFE () which are often taken literally therefore missing the point of the flexibility required for moving like a startup.

The answer is to scale principles NOT processes. Some principles to bring in to the organisation are…

Value learning over delivery

Tactic for prioritizing learning include having pilot teams working in new ways to learn from. Use the best people in the organisation. Provide sandboxes and guard rails for the teams. Encourage creative experiments.

Radical transparency

Have transparency through rituals, through access to information, access to customers, access to business data.

Humility in all things

Keep a beginners mind. "Strong opinions, loosely held". Do product discovery. Use an orbital model for product development support (1-2 hours / week from marketing, legal etc.). Use a modern staffing model. Do you need all the traditional roles and bureaucracy. Modernize your tech stack. If the tech wont let you scale agile then make it better.

All of this should be a top-down driven effort.

Indy Johar (@indy_johar) – We need to re-imagine our institutional infrastructure for the digital age

Democracy is not just "the vote", it is a stack distribution of agency

Gave examples of digital era products Domus and Wiki house where the pans for furniture or housing are available online and local companies build and ship them to people. These are innovative ideas but the regulatory stuff around multi jurisdiction house plans doesn't exist yet. We have ignored the red-tape problem.

When the industrial revolution was underway in Britain the British Standards Institute started along side of it because it was a necessary system. We need to look at the dark matter, the bits in between our digital products. We should focus on new regulatory infrastructure instead of creating new products as a thin layer on top of old regulatory systems.

We have been living in an age with the cult of the individual. Western children when shown a painting will immediately focus on the object. Eastern children will focus on the context and will only focus on object when questioned about it directly.

Darius Kazemi (@tinysubversions) – Doing tech for activists

  • Use simple stuff
  • Don't recreate, mutate
  • Technology is terrible, avoid where possible

Genevieve Bell (@feraldata) – Talking to AI

Lot's of thought provoking ideas presented as a list of questions we would ask AI

AI has lots of daddies but not too many mommies.

The name itself is a sign of its time. In the 50s "artificial" was a good thing. Not such a good thing now days. "inteligence" doesnt suggest much feeling. What would we call it today?

Anil Dash (@anildash) – Humane tech

The internet is moving regulation in to private companies. For the worst.

The modern internet is not an efficient market. Opaque algorithms cannot be regulated.

Stefan Sagmeister (@sagmeisterwalsh) – Why beauty does matter in everything

Modernist buildings are horrible to live in. The modernists themselves renounced their lack of beauty. Gave some great examples of how adding beauty to things changes the way people feel and think. Underpass where people used to piss all the time. Tey had $5k to prevent the urinating. Painted "Yes" on each side of the wall and it became a place where newly weds would do photos. From industrial train transport to the skyline park. There has not been a single act of crime on the skyline park.

How if NASA added beauty to their suit it could become a talking point for more funding. People like supporting beautiful things. How Air bnb and Etsy have bland sparse design. It could be more beautiful. Showed some of his own work.