DUX! DUX! DUX!
(I always wonder if the original organizers of the Conference on Designing for User Experience ever gave any thought to this guy: the last and most infamous person to bear the title Dux, as attested to by this picture of self-styled “fascist” footballer Paolo Di Canio. Ah well.)
So I’m back, already, from Chicago, where I didn’t really have much time to catch my breath before flying out again. Unfortunately, though it’s not really their fault, my agents arranged for my ride to the airport to pick me up about an hour after I came off stage, and as I result I didn’t really get to participate in the actual conference nearly as much as I would have liked.
More happily, it feels like my talk on product/service hybrids and ecologies went over pretty well – there were lots of nice compliments afterward, and so on. (In case you’re interested in the topic but weren’t able to attend, be of good cheer: the presentation was basically a simplified, visually-enhanced version of this article, plus some musings about the design implications of MIT Media Lab’s inspiring City Car project.)
The best part of my short time in Chicago, though – a city, mind you, in which I had spent no more than twenty-four hours during all the previous years of my life – was back-to-back explorations of the urban fabric with John Zapolski and Mike Kuniavsky. Mike and John designed me up a fantastic user experience, showing me things I certainly would have missed (or misunderstood) otherwise – from the splendidly Gothamesque pastiche that is the Harold Washington Library, to the little chunks of Angkor Wat and Westminster Abbey embedded, with supreme arrogance, in the equally Batmanian Tribune Tower, to what sure as hell looked like a McDonald’s by good ol’ Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. (“MiesDonald’s”?) I’m thoroughly grateful.
I also just have to say that Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate is one of the most effective pieces of public art I’ve ever seen. It works as focal point, as activity node/non-Euclidean funpark – even, feh, as placebranding – and it’s just stunningly beautiful into the bargain. The rest of Millennium Park’s vaunted attractors rather fade into the background by comparison.
At any rate, I consider this an appetizer – Nurri and I will certainly be back in town, ready to range further and dig deeper. Thanks again to conference organizers Joseph O’Sullivan and Daniell Hebert; to Wendy Ju, Liz Goodman, Lou Rosenfeld and Elizabeth Churchill for the quickest of conversations; and of course to Mike and John for having shared some of their Chicago with me.