Interaction Awards 2012: Drift Deck for People's Choice

Drift Deck is up for the IxDA Interaction Awards in the “People’s Choice” category. Which isn’t the “Jury’s Choice” but — whatev. It’s the People, so we’re hustling to make you, the People, aware of this chance for you to choose what is the Choice of the People. For Interaction Design Awards.

Please give it a vote.

What makes Drift Deck chooseable? Well — it does something different and provocative in the world of interaction design for the things we do when we’re going/finding. The canon of interaction design for what were once fondly called “maps” is pretty stuck in the mud. Nothing extraordinary going on there that you wouldn’t expect from the next generation of mapping things.

What we did with Drift Deck was look at the world a little sideways and imagine a world in which the map was a bit dynamic and the act of going/finding was a bit less, you know — purposeful in a tedious, dogmatic sort of way.

It’s an otherworldly map app, if you will. Drift Deck is meant partly to be pragmatic for those times I find myself somewhere and have no idea what to do if I have an hour to wander about. (Sometimes we all need a bit of a start, or a script to follow.) And of course, it’s playful in it’s nod to the Situationists and their experiments with re-imagining urban space.

The principles led directly from the Drift Deck: Analog Edition that you can find here and more here.

These are the kinds of projects we do here. They’re not “Conceptual.” That cheapens the hard work that goes into them. We write code. We do illustrations of things that get properly printed on big Heidelberg presses. We put together electrical components and have printed circuit boards made and populated with parts to create new sorts of interaction rituals, new sorts of devices — new things that are different from the old things. These are ways of evolving the ordinary to make possibily otherworldly, extraordinary things. They come from ideas that we then evolve into material form so that the ideas can be held and dropped and switched up, on and off to be understood properly.

So, just to be clear — Drift Deck isn’t a conceptual bit of wankery. It’s a thing that got made. Ideas turned into lines of code turned into compiled bytecode. Oh, look! It’s running on my iPhone! Doesn’t feel very concept-y to me.
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A Relevant Talk

Just two quick points on this great talk by Mike Kruzeniski. First, this idea of developing new languages to describe decision points in the creation of technical things is quite good and brought home quite effectively by a guy who has some experiences doing just this within the beheometh Microsoft. Translating “P0, P1, P2” into Soul, Heart, Body is not just a simple variable replacement — these new words are precisely design shaping the creation of technical systems. Somewhere in between “design-led” fantasies of designing being in charge, and, for designers, the more grumbly — *we have no influence — gripes is this approach Mike talks about — closer to real pragmatic stuff, and about partnerships and learning together and the *good kind of manipulation of existing engineering practices and project management procedures.

Second point. I’ve been wrong to think that design-led creation of technology *stuff is the way of the future, and Mike’s experiences plus a couple of things here and there that I’ve experienced more directly are what make me certain I was wrong. Between knowing what it takes in practical terms to materialize an idea that won’t blow smoke when you plug in the power, and knowing that you can’t force someone to do something that they don’t believe in, especially if they are a technologist — well, the in-between is this idea of working together. No one wants to create a crap experience, but defining what is a good experience is what helps you get there.

Anyway. Listen to Mike’s talk and try to avoid wondering if his shirt was made from the same material they use for table clothes in pizza restaurants.
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