In Progress 2012
In Progress was a one day conference curated by It’s Nice That, showcasing groundbreaking ideas and projects from 2012, and forecasting how they will shape 2013 and beyond. Rather than give you a blow-by-blow rundown of the day (there’s a good one here) we’ve decided to highlight some of key themes we identified that were discussed and that resonated with us.
Cynicism as motivation
Some may wonder, now that the post Olympic glory and optimism are fading, that 2013 might herald the return of cynicism. If this is the case, we don’t think it would be such a bad thing: Dan Brooke of Channel 4 touched on how the stunning ‘Meet the Superhumans’ campaign was born out of a desire to battle the preconceptions; the cynical, atavistic belief that Paralympians were ‘not as good, and never will be as good’ as the able-bodied athletes.
Ruth MacKenzie, Director of the runaway success that was the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad explained that the government cuts make things harder, but not impossible. In short; if the going gets tough, the tough will flourish. Ben Southworth, Deputy CEO and Head of Community for TCIO quipped; ‘People like me are now in Government, that’s either a really good thing or the end of the world.’
Focus on the user: succeed
At NB we start with an open mind – what do you want your customer to think? What do you want them to feel? Ben Terrett & Sarah Richards were bullish with their understanding of the end user – “nobody wants to hang out on government websites” – and every aspect of the redesign of government websites is tailored to make the experience as easy as possible for them. Tech journalist and futurologist, Adrian Mars reinforced the age old adage that the customer is king; observing that despite the technological and legal race, the successful 3D printers and manufacturers of the future will be the ones that give people what they want. (Which could be anything from ‘Eat your own chocolate face’ to ‘Print-an-organ’)
Leave things open
Mr Mars also pointed out how somebody has already more or less produced a 3D printed gun - which throws open an interesting debate about protection; of ideas, people, technology & software. Hellicar & Lewis had a strong standpoint: all the projects they do are open-source, meaning other people (including themselves) can adapt and alter the building blocks to produce different results. So technology developed in a big budget project for Coke (in the first open-source project they’ve ever done), can then be used to help kids suffering from severe autism. Nicolas Roope, founder of Hulger & Plumen offered hope for those in the room confused about how to make open-source work financially viable: not only does it practically halve development costs, but by leaving things open people create new things. When there are new things, new revenue streams will automatically open up.
Experience is everything
Caroline Till, Co-founder of trend forecasting company FranklinTill examined how the cultural shift ‘from ownership to experience has opened up a world of immersive, multi-sensory-design-led projects.’ She calls this ‘The Rise of the Experience Junkie’ a trend expected to carry on well into next year as people ask themselves ‘do I need another…?’ and instead favour authentic cultural experiences. The question is: how can brands and business respond? This was a question presented earlier in the day by the work of Keiichi Matsuda whose work examines how we might present data in spacial dimensions. The merging or aligning of the virtual with the physical is something we expect to see more and more of at NB as brands and business start to combine emerging technology with everyday life.
Think big, start small
Nicolas Roope had spoken about how he had started small, using simple, accessible tools to create new products (Plumen bulb & Hulger phone). This was a process warmly illustrated by Edward Barber of BarberOsgerby, the team behind the Olympic torch. After showing us the 80 page competition brief he went on to explain how an Ikea cutlery holder, some hosepipe, an office fan and watering can were used to create the Olympic torch. It would be unfair not to recognise a sprinkling of genius and lots of hard work that also went into it. In a similar vain, Oliver Wainwright, architecture critic for The Guardian discussed the pop up architecture phenomenon, highlighting how temporary use can inform what happens to a space – good & bad.
All in all a fascinating day. Congratulations to It’s Nice That for a organising a great event.