This week I attended the Smashing Magazine Smashing Conference in Santa Monica, California. My little brain was overflowing with new ideas by the end, eager to drink more coffee and sketch them out on paper. Right now I am in the process of putting together a quick presentation for my team at work, but I wanted to do a little writeup here in the meantime.
First, folks are friendly in Los Angeles. Granted, I split my time between Venice Beach and Santa Monica where there is no shortage of beach, sun, and bathing beauties of all genders. I would be happy all the time, too (probably).
The conference kicked off Tuesday morning with 8 or 9 speakers, followed by 4 or 5 the following day. They covered topics from the very technical, like Sara Soueidan's presentation on ways to use SVG intelligently, to the conceptual, Samantha Warren's "guerrilla" design tactics, and finally to the inspirational, with the final speaker, Andrew Clarke, strongly advocating for creativity's respect in the workplace.
I found nearly every topic helpful and interesting (with pages and pages of scribbled notes and doodles to prove it) but nearly every attendee I talked to agreed that Aaron Draplin's presentation stole the show. He had a merch table and an energetic sequence of slides that were like Wes Anderson title screens on acid. I felt compelled to look at William Eggleston photographs for some reason. In any case, several people wanted to pose with him for a picture and I was no exception.
Peter Smart also left an impression on me with his talk, although rather than nostalgic I felt reasonably terrified. I've been slightly paranoid around all things government since 2005ish, and in light of NSA/Edward Snowden documentaries and a few brief encounters with using data to target consumers at work, it's become worse. I assume I know enough about it to cover one snowflake on the tip of an enormous, data-collecting iceberg.
Peter talked to us about the future of the tactile web and the eventual seamless marriage of technology and the human body. I know I'm jaded because I could only imagine how these technologies could be used to make privacy a complete thing of the past and not how cyborgism could be used to help people. Well, regular people. I can see how it would help corporations (they're people!) and shareholders. However, once when I thought I wanted to work an Apple store, the interviewer told us this story about an old man who couldn't read books anymore due to his arthritis. So when he picked up an iPad in the store and discovered he could "turn" a page with a simple gesture, he began to weep.
Although I believe that Apple store employee lied to us to make working in retail sound even remotely rewarding, it gives me hope that he, at least, was thinking positively. And to be fair, I left LA feeling more positive. I left feeling excited and motivated to use my creativity and brainpower for good.
And then I bought a new FitBit wristband.