// Just a quick note //

Wow I thought this was really neat: three major keynotes from John Thackara, Marc Rettig, and Robert Fabricant, who each in their own way addressed issues of designing for “sustainability”.

Thackara started off a bit dour, with somber overviews of the various “grim peaks”, challenges of water, energy, health, pollution, warming, etc. aaah!! world collapse, etc. But led to a grand view of design “saving the world” so to speak. Spoke in rather lofty, broad strokes of design goodness, kinda abstract, unfulfilling sense of optimism, felt very grand and idealistic, reminded me of Bauhaus or De Stijl philosophical aims…Good conversation starter!

Fabricant from frog delivered an amazing keynote, hit all the right points, including an emotionally compelling story of designing for HIV testing in South Africa, really brought tangible closure to “social change” design challenges, by showing the physical results that were created, a real test kit for men to self-test HIV, and the humbling social/family repercussions. Truly profound and eloquently presented. A powerful speaker and just a great example of design for social good. Sign me up!!

(Slides are here)

(Here’s Fabricant’s own thoughts about the conference here)

Rettig offered an amusing and emotionally heartfelt personal story of his own journey as a designer and evolution of his firm, Fit Associates, around various social-personal problems around “sleep apnea”, as a personal vision/path. Found it quite moving and powerful for those at a career crossroads, like myself who seek something “more” than just fixing a user interface or making a bunch of wireframes. Seeking a path towards meaningful change by truly deeply madly understanding people’s behavior, life even, and figuring out ways to support and enhance their behavior. Offered various sites and names of groups/teams/people doing social change, to encourage involvement and participation. Will post list soon!