This website is now archived. To find out what BERG did next, go to

Blog posts tagged as 'talks'

People are walking architecture, or making NearlyNets with MujiComp

It’s taken me a while to get the notes cleaned-up and post this, a talk from January this year that I gave over in Sierre, Switzerland at their TechnoArk event. Thanks very much to Nicholas Nova and Laurent Haug of LiftLabs for their kind invitation.

I’ve been keen to post it as it’s a pile of ‘beginnings’, rather than a self-contained thought.

It’s a bunch of thinking about how designers (and BERG in particular) might start thinking through making products for ‘smart cities’ (as they’re known for good and for ill) including the qualities that these products should possess in order for them to be invited into people’s homes – something we’ve started calling ‘mujicomp’ as shorthand in the studio.

Also it talks a little bit about how the aggregation and combination of smart, connected products could build into bottom-up infrastructures rather than giant top-down municipal approaches to augmenting cities with technology.

It draws on themes from my ‘Demon-Haunted World’ talk at Webstock, from 2009, but also it entangles some thinking from the MSR Social Computing Summit I attended back in January.

Specifically, looking at doorways and thresholds as rich places to investigate with products and services – something which at the summit we called with-tongue-firmly-in-cheek ‘Porch-Computing’

People Are Walking Architecture, or making NearlyNets with MujiComp, January 2010

“All the time in the world” talk at Design By Fire 2009, Utrecht

My talk at DxF2009 in Utrecht last week was an hour’s wander around the idea of Time, particularly historical and cultural ideas of time.

My focus was time as a material for interaction design that we should deconstruct and reconstruct in order to create products and services that take advantage of new real-time web technologies.

Escalante, a bibliography


I had the privilege of opening Web Directions South here in Sydney, this morning, with a hike through fanufacture, science fiction, social capital, cybernetics, and Neptune. The reception has been great and I totally enjoyed myself! What more can a man ask for.

A few folks requested a bibliography, so here we go. You can pretty much reconstruct my entire talk from this. Books and articles, in order of appearance!

Interesting 2007

I gave a talk at Interesting 2007 about three weeks ago now. The day was great and though I wasn’t able to stay for all of it, I really enjoyed myself, and the few talks I did catch were very absorbing. So well done to Russell for sorting all that out.

Me Speaking at Reboot

I gave a talk on comics and while there are some images of me talking about them on Flickr, some people have asked for a list of the comics I discussed. Below is the list and brief descriptions. I’ve also transcribed my talk and put the slides online: Comics and Pictures.

Though I read lots of different comics, I only really follow four authors: Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore and Garth Ennis. Really, you can’t go that wrong reading stuff by these guys, they are awesome, although many people find Ennis a bit heavy. Here is the list in the order that I discussed them:

  • The Kingdom by Mark Waid and drawn by Ariel Olivetti and Mike Zeck. Wikipedia has a good description of Hypertime, so no need to hunt down this comic if you are just curious.
  • Sea of Red by Rick Remender, Kieron Dwyer and Salgood Sam. This is the one about vampire pirates.
  • New Universal by Warren Ellis and Salvador Larroca. This is the comic I discussed where all the characters are derived from film stars.
  • Planetary by Warren Ellis. This is really good, everyone should read it. There are four main books, all are good. I specifically discussed Planetary Crossing Worlds which includes the Batman story.
  • The Filth by Grant Morrison. This is the best comic that there is, everybody should read this. It is the one with the guy who speaks with thought bubbles.
  • Desolation Jones by Warren Ellis and J.H. Williams III. I’ve mentioned this before. It is a great read, and drawn with deft elegance, really nice work.
  • I spoke about Madman. Very weird but good.
  • I also mentioned a cover from The Flash who can run really fast, and that’s about it.

I’m enjoying a couple of American authors at the moment: Ed Brubaker‘s Criminal, and Joss Whedon‘s Astonishing X-men is good too.

That is the list of comics I mentioned. They stock them at my favourite comic shops: Orbital and Gosh, both nicely located in central London.


Having slipped from Pulse Laser to Lazy Pulsar, occasionally twitching in the cosmos but not really shining very hard, I am going to write a post.

I had a really good time at Reboot 9.0 this year, never been before, but it was top drawer. My favourite discoveries were the brilliant David Smith and Tina Aspiala. Also good to catch up with old friends at the shiny and new Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. So in the spirit of the people, I sat in the talks, looking through the faces oscillating between laptop and speaker, and drew them. Some drawings went into Webb’s talk, my favourites are below, and the rest are in a Flickr set.

Reboot Sketch 01

I liked this guy’s glasses a lot.

Reboot Sketch 06

Reboot Sketch 04

Smart suit.

Reboot Sketch 10

This guy kept fidgeting and glancing between laptop and presenter.

Products Are People Too

Shockingly, we’ve not posted in two months. We’ve evidently been taking on too much work.

Before we get back on the wagon, another pointer for visitors here because they came to a conference presentation: I gave the closing keynote at reboot this year, and put forward an approach to product design that takes its lead from experiences and stories. There’s a look back at social software, adaptive design and engaging technology as some of my key influences too.

The slides and talk notes are online: Products Are People Too.

(I also gave the XTech 2007 closing keynote a few weeks back. Do these conference organisers know something I don’t?)

From Pixels to Plastic

Just a quick pointer for visitors who were at my Emerging Tech Conference keynote: The slides and talk notes are now online, From Pixels to Plastic.

(For those visitors who weren’t there, here’s a photograph.)

The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Interaction Design

We’re making our trip to San Francisco in a few days, and speaking at Yahoo! at the end of next week. But if you’d like to catch a public variation of that same presentation, the evening rather than the matinée version if you will, read on…

Sound of Music opening scene

Adaptive Path are generously hosting us on the evening of Tuesday 30 January for a talk about:

How a new generation wants social, creative, networked products, and how design can help not by identifying tasks to be productively performed, but experiences to be deepened and made fun. All told through some of our favourite things, and a series of increasingly tenuous references to The Sound of Music.

The talk is called The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Interaction Design and, if you’re coming, you should sign up at the event page. See you there!

Making Senses revisited

Adaptive Path kindly invited me to their offices this morning, where I muddled through my Making Senses talk, on using the human senses as inspiration for next-generation Web browser functionality.

Optic flow

Revisiting the slides, and the conversation afterward, has shown me how to state the argument more directly:

  1. As far as interaction on the computer desktop and the Web goes, navigational and spatial metaphors dominate. On a micro level we talk about direct manipulation of files via icons: Dragging, moving, opening and so on. On a macro level, we have addresses, visiting, and sitemaps.
  2. When a person has navigated to something, they can know what it is because of the navigation itself. For instance, you know you’re in London because you followed all the signposts to London.
  3. In a world of cheap sensors, many, many display surfaces, and high connectivity, we are presented with information without that navigational context. Furthermore, in areas which have traditionally used the navigational metaphor (mainly the Web), navigation might not be the most appropriate approach to reading the news, buying books, or hanging out in chatrooms. Yet still we approach Web design armed with this metaphor.
  4. It’s as important that a thing can be instantly appreciated for what it is, as that it can be navigated to. ‘Instantly appreciate’ means comprehend pre-consciously, just as we instantly appreciate a chair as a chair when looking at it, without having to deliberately deduce the meaning of the pattern of light on our retina.
  5. As a guide to what qualities we should be able to instantly appreciate, we can use human and animal senses to show what features we need to recognise of things in the environment. Sensing these features is sufficient to let us intelligently interact, without navigating.
  6. To summarise these features, we need to be able to detect: Structure, focus and periphery, rhythms of activity, summaries, how this particular thing is situated in the larger environment (and more). The Web browser, as our sensory organs online, should do this job, instead of leaving it to the websites themselves.

Applying the sensory model to Web design triggers a few ideas:

  • The high-level structure of all sites should be represented by the browser in a consistent way, not by each site differently.
  • Regular patterns in browsing (such as the sites visited daily or weekly) should be supported by the browser.
  • Using the extracted keywords of a web page as its ‘scent,’ hyperlinks should indicate how their odour strengthens or detracts from the smell of the current browsing trail.

There are more ideas, but that’s what the presentation discusses and illustrates.

Incidentally, the image at the top of this post is from J. J. Gibson’s The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, which talks about how we see continuously and actively as we move through space. I’d like to consider browsing the Web in the same light.

XTech 2007, call for participation

XTech, the European web technologies conference, has picked The Ubiquitous Web as its 2007 theme:

As the web reaches further into our lives, we will consider the increasing ubiquity of connectivity, what it means for real world objects to be part of the web, and the increasing blurring of the lines between virtual worlds and our own.

The call for participation is now open; topics we find especially interesting are mobile devices, RFID, user interface, web apps, and of course where this is all going.

Alongside Adam Greenfield of Everyware and Gavin Starks of Global Cool, S&W will be keynoting. See you there!

Recent Posts

Popular Tags