DUX 2003 — One man’s experience, Day 1.

I stayed at Treasure Island the night of the fourth. Waking at around 6:00, I showered and hopped on the 108 bus to the city at around 7:15. The 108 was packed, as it usually is—or so I’m told—and the local flavor was out in force. A man with headphones hooted at the women as they got on the bus. “Pretty lady going to work at school again!” Apparently, in addition to being rude, the headphoned man was a stalker. I prepared my evil eye, but the man was in the front of the bus and I in the back, so that day, he got away with the impropriety.

A few minutes later I disboarded the bus, into the Transbay Terminal, just a few blocks from the Palace Hotel. Arriving at the Palace, I sat down for breakfast.

There’s nothing like starting the morning with a well done Bloody Mary and believe me when I tell you that the Garden Court Restaurant in the Palace does them right.


The Garden Court Restaurant is great experience in and of itself. The space is wonderful, intimate, but open. I ate eggs benedict and orange juice while I marveled at the number of suits in the room. This was clearly not the IT department at Stanford.

Before long, some other DUX participants began to show up. George Olsen and a friend sat a few tables away from me and the man at the table in front of me thumbed through his conference overview book.

After breakfast I headed upstairs and registered, returning a DUX pen and a set of CDs from the registration packet that I didn’t think I’d use. I just can’t bear having to throw out things that I know I’m not going to use. This includes, most notably, nearly all conference schwag.

I saw Peter Merholz in the hall and said hi. He was busy making sure everything was ready for the tutorials.

The Business and designing for user experiences tutorial started shortly after, at 9:00. I sat at the front table.

The tutorial was good, though I suspect some of the others in the room got more out of it than I did, partially because of the discussions and writing I’ve been doing on the experiencedesign list, on my website and at work.

After the tutorial, I went back to the registration room and bumped into Jess McMullin and then headed out to go shopping for a belt because I’d left mine at home. An hour or so later, I headed over to the “historic and cool” Hobart building to visit Adaptive Path (without a belt). I use quotes around historic and cool, because that’s what it said on the studio tours map, but it is indeed, both historic and cool.

On the way, I saw an albino man walking down Market Street. I believe he was the first albino I’d ever seen in person.

Arriving at Adaptive Path, Bryan May greeted me. “I’ve met you,” he said.

“You have met me. We tend to meet when we’re out drinking,” I replied. Indeed we’ve met several times. The Google/Blogger Party and Saint Patrick’s Day at the Irish Bank come to mind.

I had coffee and hung out in the office for a while. Jesse was there, but some guy demo’ing his software had trapped him at one of the desks. Poor Jesse.

While I checked out the office, I listened to Indi Young talk about her projects. As I relaxed for a bit, enjoying my coffee, a woman answering a visitor’s question about Adaptive Path’s workshops winked at me. I think I blushed. If you know who I’m talking about, please tell her she’s got a lot of charisma.

Shortly after, someone was able to chisel in between Jesse and the “look at my software” guy. As a result, I got to say hi.

Upon leaving Adaptive Path, I jumped on MUNI and got off at the Church Street station where I walked down to Scuderia West on Duboce. There, I chatted with Julia Cupp about scooters. Selena and I are thinking about buying one because she just got a job with the SLAC Guest House and will be getting off of work after the shuttle busses stop running. Right now, we’re thinking that either the Scarabeo 50 Ditech [pic] or the Mojito 50 Custom [pic] are the way to go.

After leaving, I walked down to Mission Street and took the 14 to the Transbay Terminal where I headed back to Treasure Island to drop off some of my conference materials before the evening session.

Returning to the city a couple hours later, I ran into Chad Thornton, Emma van Niekerk, Francine Gemperle, Carl DiSalvo, Maggie Breslin, Ian Hargraves and Ben Fineman at the corner of New Montgomery and Mission. It was a fortuitous meeting, as they were headed to the Thirsty Bear for a drink before the opening plenary. I ordered a Brown Bear—tasty beer by the way.

After the beer we walked back to the Palace to hear Bill Buxton and Mitch Kapor speak. The plenary was quite good. They brought up several pertinent issues for those of us focused on design for experiencing.

I particualrily enjoyed Bill’s suggestion that design for experiencing projects should be run more in the way that movies are produced. I’ve heard several people mention this idea in the past, but Bill was the first guy whom I really believe understood the movie production process and the roles of the players therein.

Bill’s comments also got me thinking that we still need a more narrative way to describe the interaction design of our products. Indeed, later in the plenary, both Bill and Mitch explicitly mentioned language problems as the source of the other issues which they had raised earlier in the talk.

I guess the only unsatisfying thing about the plenary was that even though language was explicitly identified as the cause of many problems affecting the design for experiencing community, Bill and Mitch’s comments were both made in passing. One has to wonder whether or not they actually recognized that they were making this causal identification concerning language?

In fact, at the end of the plenary, Bill contended that the all of the problems that came up in the talk “weren’t difficult” and that “we can talk about them,” which contradicted what he and Mitch had been saying for the previous hour or so.

At the very least, the problems of language, in regards to talking with non—designers about what we do, is a major hurdle for us to traverse before we get the inclusion, collaboration, recognition and respect we seek in both our organizations and the business community, in general.

I’m just pissed that the issues around language come up at every experience design—related conference I attend and at every conference those issues are addressed in a completely superficial way. Our entire existence is mediated through language, so it seems obvious that those problems are the most fundamental and therefore the most important to address. I guess I’m just a “tackle the big problems first” kind of guy…and with that said, let me get back to the conference:

OK, where was I? Oh yeah…

The plenary ended shortly thereafter, but not before Mitch could mention some of the social issues he’s tackling through the EFF and the Open Source Application Foundation.

We poured out into the lobby of the conference room for a reception hosted by BayCHI where I bumped into Steve Williams and Christian Simon, both fellow BayCHI volunteers. I also talked with some guy from Microsoft who said that Mitch Kapor was a “wacko, off somewhere in a magical open—source faerie land” (which, of course, was completely prosaic coming from a Microsoft employee).

At the reception, I also had the chance to chat with Arna Ionescu, from Stanford; Luciana Baptista, from the BBC; Steve Portigal, who writes FreshMeat; Robert Reimann, now with Bose and Rashmi Sinha of Uzanto Consulting.

As the event began to wind down, the Palace staff signaled their intention to give us the boot by turning off the lights, so Rashmi, Robert and I headed over to the Thirsty Bear. I ordered another Brown Bear. I mentioned it was a tasty beer, right?

Shortly after my beer arrived, Chad called from across the street at XYZ. He was heading over to the Mission to eat at a fun little Pakistani—Indian place called Pakwan. Having not spent time with Chad for six months or more, I excused myself from the table and met him and the CMU crew for a quick BART ride to the mission.

At Pakwan I ordered Nishi, a curried beef dish and Nan, flat bread. After dinner, enough of the group was completely beat that we spilt up and headed back to our respective homes.

…and that was my experience from Thursday, day 1 of DUX 2003.

My thoughts from DUX 2003, day 2 (Friday) are also now online. Stay tuned for my notes from day 3.

4 thoughts on “DUX 2003 — One man’s experience, Day 1.”

  1. Today I threw my DUX pen in the garbage because the silver cone that is at the business end was just barely threaded on, and in my second and third usages, it crapped out and wrecked what I was writing. Made so poorly that if you tightened it even slightly beyond it’s perfect point it would become entirely loose. So any vibration from using it would result in it getting loose.

    As Neil Young said “Piece! Of! Crap!”

  2. Hey Brad,

    The winking woman was Laura, (don’t recall last name) who is doing sales work with Adaptive Path. Used to work at New Architect before it folded.

    And yes, the pen was crap, but you’re missing the point Steve – it looked all cool and shiny-designy 😉

  3. Thanks for your comments guys…they jogged me into remembering that I spoke to both of you the first day of the conference. I added these encounters to the entry.

  4. DUX 2003 notes

    I’m posting my thoughts from the Designing for User Experiences conference (DUX 2003) I attended last week, on my personal website. My notes from day 1 (Thursday) and day 2 (Friday) are already online. My day 3 notes are forthcoming….

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