SXSW – Day 4

Started out day 4 with a dynamic presentation by @DrG (Dr. M A Greenstein) call Neurons Speaking!: Design with the Brain in Mind! She was a very dynamic speaker and started by listing the 3 C’s to consider:

  1. Creativity
  2. Consciousness
  3. Collaboration

She said she would be talking about three different gaming models – Posit Science Brain Training Module (which I was disappointed to learn costs $395 per module), Call of Duty, and Civilization – none of which I was familiar with. However, a fair number of people in the room had participated/played in one of these. She then discussed the 6 aspects of the brain:

  1. brains are dynamically interconnected
  2. brains are predictive systems
  3. brains are good at predicting patterns
  4. brains are neuroplastic
  5. brain is a good soda jerk (delivers correct concoction of hormones when needed)
  6. brains love novelty

So, we should design with these in mind to keep the brain engaged. Dr. G cited studies that showed higher cognitive function after playing games. Hey, I can now justify that game playing break during the middle of my work day! The take away message was to design applications with selective attention, incorporate face and pattern recognition and increase visual / spatial fluency. A one hour talk (and these poor notes) do little justice to the session – I plan on doing a google search on DrG or to start following her on twitter to learn more!

I toughed out another workshop (2.5 hours) on Cross-Platform Multi-Screen Development. It started out pretty generic with the top 10 considerations for multi screen development. Multi-screen referring to different devices and screen sizes.
10. screen size and resolution – display resolution is no longer just 72 dpi
9. device sensors and capabilities
8. orientation
7. hardware buttons
6. device specific interactions models
5. processing power
4. OS – single task vs. multi-task
3. Network protocols and security
2. User interaction and experience
1. deployment

Then Adobe presented on how you can achieve multi-screen development on “most” platforms using the Adobe tools and flash. Yawn. And no real answer when I asked how to implement accessibility.

Then Brian LeRoux from Nitobi gave the PhoneGap pitch again (see day 2).

Always a glutton for punishment I went to another workshop: CSS3 Beyond the Basics. This was really great! It was one of the most technical workshops or sessions I attended at SXSW and started right in with the code. All of the presenters are REALLY knowledgeable. Not being a CSS guru this quickly got over my head so I left to attend another session. Although in hindsight I should have stayed in this one – even if I don’t use this level of detail in CSS very much. But, from all of the tweets about the session it was very well liked by those who use complicated CSS on a regular basis – I’m still at the “CSS for dummies level with respect to fluid layous and all of the cool things you can do with backgrounds, transistion, etc. etc, etc. The presenters also brought a bottle of tequila and there was a shot to the asker for each good question asked!

I left the CSS3 Workshop to attend LBS 101: The arrival of Ubiquitous Geolocation. I guess from the title I shouldn’t really have expected anything new or exiting. This was just a general introduction to geolocation. I did find a few interesting facts to jot down.

  • 53% of text messages in the US in 2010 where “where R U” type messages
  • of the 101 most popular apps (on iTunes, I think), 47 transmitted the phone’s location

Some of the listed uses for geolocation:

  • marketing
  • fraud protection – don’t authorize my card at an ATM if my cell phone isn’t at that same location
  • compliance
  • insurance /telematics, an ebay-like/ crowd sourcing type shipping model, was provided as a use case for geolocation. Hmm, maybe I can get someone else to transport my cats and listen to them howl all the way! No, worries, I’d never do that to my kitties 🙂

I really enjoyed the IBM and Austin Chamber of Commerce sponsored party at the Four Seasons Hotel. It included a live band (although a bit too loud for trying to chat), great food and drink. The highlight was the presentation by Dr. David Ferrucci of Watson fame. I think IBM would have appreciated a larger attendance but since this wasn’t an official SXSW party it didn’t get any space in the schedule. This prevented it from being overrun by the “free food and drinks” crowd which I appreciated. Not usually one at loss for words I had some trouble mingling with the folks at this party – until I connected with some IBM folks from Application Services in Vancouver, BC. That made the evening even more enjoyable!

About Becka11y

Web Accessibility Consultant with 30+ years in the software industry and 12+ years of direct accessibility innovation.


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