A week has passed since the Interaction 09 conference, and I am still basking its afterglow. It was held in Vancouver this year by the IxDA — and 7 us went from Habanero, because we really had no excuse when it's in our own backyard!

Overall, I left feeling inspired, engaged in the Interaction Design community and recharged for another year of design. There will be videos of all presentations coming out on the conference site, but for now I thought I would share some general themes that I will keep with me this year:

It's a big, bad world out there — but, we can still change it

The first theme that emerged for me was the urgency to fix the big, bad problems we as a race have caused. There were many discussions about worldly topics such as:

  • The sustainability of energy, the environment and business
  • Business as we know it is changing
  • We, as designers need to establish the change
  • Our relationship with technology does not match the physical world
  • Interaction design is not about computing technology

These topics were discussed throughout all the keynotes from different perspectives, and every one had something relevant and insightful to say. I liked all the keynotes for different reasons, but the one that really resonated with me was given by Robert Fabricant from frog Design. He challenged everyone to think about: 1) what behaviours do we want to motivate through our designs? and 2) Are we motivating the sustainable, responsible behaviours we want? Throughout his presentation, he really hit home the fact that behaviour is the medium, and not technology.

It's NUIs, stupid

Natural user interfaces (NUIs) and touch interactions were common threads throughout many of the workshops and lightening round talks. There is a "new normal" out there as Fiona Raby said, and we have to embrace it. I went to quite a few talks that discussed the practical, design approach to touch interfaces — everything from thinking about the zones of interaction (10 ft vs. 5ft vs. 2ft) to multi-user interactions where you might not know how many hands are involved, to thinking about content as the interface instead of "building" an interface. The conference just scratched the surface though (no pun intended!), and now I just need the right project to get my hands dirty!

Never stop learning

My favourite keynote was the last one by Kim Goodwin from Cooper — she wrapped up the whole conference with a presentation called "Each One, Teach One." The title says it all, but she explained in storyteller-fashion the importance of mentoring and teaching in this field. The community must grow and support all the new design challenges ahead, and it is important to take "each one and teach one." I wholeheartedly agree with this, and can't wait to share the love this year.

The future of IxDA is about local, grassroots connections and hopefully if you're in the Vancouver area you can come out to local events this year to discuss topics like these and more.  Sign up for the Facebook group!

Also, if anyone else has some key themes that resonated with them — please leave a comment, I would love to hear about them!