#FITCTO Recap – Tony SY Ke

Since Christmas last year the great guys and gals at FITC have been donating FITC tickets to #DevTO attendees. To top that off they generously offered the #DevTO gang complimentary tickets to attend this great festival of art and code at the Hilton downtown Toronto.

Steve Jobs Called My Work Sh*t, and Welcome to the Post-PC Era

I loved the title of this presentation and I knew it would be a great kick off to my FITC experience this year. Tony SY Ke’s 90 minute talk was all over the place but as he proceeded you could see how all these stories linked up together and eventually you get to the point where the title of the talk came from.

Come out from the trenches

Tony kicked off with a great statement about why you should be attending networking events such as meet ups and conferences. This advice goes out to everybody whether you are still in school, just graduating or have been in the trenches for a decade. The best thing about these events is the opportunity they provide you to step out of your trench or climb out of your hole and have a look around to see what everybody is up to. This helps you get a bird’s eye view of what is happening elsewhere and how all these trenches and holes people are keeping themselves busy with come together and connect.

10 billion

By 2014 there will be around 10 billion post-PC devices. Everybody will have not one, but multiple devices. Look around you today and you can see this trending towards that. Mobile devices are quickly becoming an extension of the brain, your bridge to the collective knowledge of everybody around you; online and offline. Today’s app developers have to fall into two camps to get a chance at being successful, either 1) your app creates content or 2) it organizes content. If it doesn’t do either then re-think your idea. Apps that create content like  DrawSomething also let you turn your creativity (good or bad) into a conversation. There is an abundance of content available offline and online and the other camp of apps help you make sense of this flood of information. A cool example is getabstract that allows you to read the key ideas of tons of business books available today in 10min! Yes, nobody has time to read these fairly big books that could end up being a little dry sometimes.

Context. Adaptive. Connected

Building a meaningful and powerful experience for your users requires you to consider three important concepts: 1) contextual data 2) adaptive data and 3) connected UX.

Contextual data. Time, data, location, movement. All external.

Adaptive data. Emotional data, learned data, recommendations.

Connected UX. How do you connect the digital world to the real physical world?

Portrait over landscape

There was a sudden diversion here into a discussion over what is better design for phone screens, landscape or portrait? Basically, for interacting with your website or app portrait is always better because it allows you to use the app with one hand. Also keep important interaction points away from the top left corner or bottom right corner as those make it harder to use the app with one hand. Once you design for landscape you force your users to use both hands which might not be ideal all the time.

…and this is why Apple will never create a phone bigger than the iPhone – unless Steve Jobs is dead

Tony continues on to talk about some of his best and most interesting projects and ideas throughout his career across London, Vancouver and New York.


Pretty vs. Functional. There is a difference

Interactive TV can be done fairly easily yet very few stations do this well or at all. Some key features here include things like a white background vs dark background for daytime vs nighttime. Auto-scrolling the schedule to the current time slow for more context.

Travel apps. A lot of travel apps and site suck. They don’t present data intelligently. They just present a lot of data. Why do they show what the current weather is? I’m not currently there. I don’t care. I care about what the weather will be when I’m there next week. Who cares where the airport is? How far is the hotel from the airport is more relevant.

Nike Plus. Weather context. If it it’s raining give me some motivation to go out and run.

Recommendations. Amazon recommendations suck but it’s hard to do recommendations well when they’re’ machine generated. Better yet, recommendations from friends are easier to implement and probably more relevant that machine based ones.

Wifi Calendar Router. This is a pretty crazy idea but I liked it. WiFi routers are one trick ponies, why not teach them some new tricks? Imagine your WiFi router is actually a calendar that sticks to your fridge or hangs on the wall. It’s also got a little screen and you can push and subscribe any data feed to it such as the weather, bus schedules, birthdays, etc. Makes routers are little more useful and you don’t have to tuck it away behind the TV.

Your Music DNA. A common conversation between kids and adults alike:

“Hey what music do you listen to?”

“A little bit of everything I guess”

We don’t all just listen to one type or another, some of us do, but most listen to different genres all the time and just something about certain songs trigger something inside you and you like it. This is where the idea for your music DNA comes from. Basically its an app that analyses your music and spits out a sequence of coloured shapes. These can be printed on a tshirt for example and could work at concerts or other festivals and break the ice between complete strangers since you already have something in common. You both have this shirt, and you might have similar music DNA.

Economy of Attention

90 minutes later after many stories that also included casino gangsters that looked friendly to 7 year old Tony, lighter clickers, and building the A-team van from card board because no stores carried it, and other stories of how he ended up in design Tony sums things up nicely with:

today we are living in an economy of attention more so than ever before. Our attention spans are declining but websites and apps that command our attention can get away with a $1B valuation or even $100B valuations.

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