out SIC://

blog_image_sic2011.jpgLast Wednesday and Thursday, Patrick, Aaron, Tim, and I spent a good amount of time at SIC, the first Seattle Interactive Conference.

1600+ attendees were already connected, and in full network mode even before the start of the conference on Wednesday. This networking was possible by an online community created by SIC and powered by Pathable — so sleek to see who’s attending each session as well as to have the ability to connect directly with anybody (by requesting a private meeting). Over 80 sessions encompassing keynote speakers, panelists, and moderated audience debates combined great visionary speakers on technology, creativity, and emergent trends.

On both days, entrepreneurs, developers, online business professionals, advertisers, producers, designers, artists, writers, and thinkers gathered inside the Seattle Convention Center — almost all digitally armed with laptops, iPads, and smart-phones; some with all of the above. Occasionally between sessions, I saw groups of fellowgeeks going out to enjoy the Seattle street food coming from the various food trucks that alternatively parked on 8th Avenue, on one side of the Convention Center. Yes, I sugared my brain between talks with a competent coconut brownie by Street Treats (free if you stopped by the AOL booth… oh well).

The last day featured the TechStars Demo Day, at the ShowBox SODO. This presentation was comprised of 10 startups pitching their hard work of 10 weeks to investors of all calibers. TechStars is a startup accelerator with participation requirements higher than Ivy League schools, for a rough idea of what this “pitch show” was like.

There’s so much more to talk about that I’m going to go dead-simple in conference-style, if the reader doesn’t mind. Here are some words / impressions still buzzing in my head:

  • It’s not about the UI, it’s about the total UX
  • Good interactive design is data/user/goal/idea-driven
  • Build on data!
  • Tackle business goals with user goals
  • Have an experience strategy
  • Audience anticipation and participation = use narratives
  • Local semiotics (!!)
  • Never forget: technology as a means to a solution, not an end in itself
  • Positioning is dead; interaction is itself branding
  • Narrative and interaction go together = a more human experience
  • Use ethnography (really: talk to and observe people)
  • Social trigger: the now is irresistible
  • Halo effect: focus on one strength
  • Cold leads vs. warm leads = build an aggressive homepage
  • Post-opulence design = the non-wealthy look and feel approach
  • Disruptive technology / innovation
  • Less options = more conversions
  • Make a claim, show the proof = instant credibility
  • Interactive experience is the most powerful thing to connect users and brands

Some list, right? A few of them are quite inspiring (not to mention it seems there’s a design revolution in the works?).

If any of the above got anybody thinking — or craving a good ol’ discussion — why, that’s a good opportunity to stop by, or call and say hi. We wouldn’t say no to partnering and exploring, or at least play, with some of these ideas.

Oh, and muchas gracias to DennisBounmy and Jonathan for guarding the HQ while we were out.

Posted by on November 4, 2011 with 2 comments so far


  1. It could be the ubiquity of the Web and the wealth of free information that goes along with it, or possibly my own self-hype about SIC, but I found the conference to be disappointing from both a content perspective as well as a presentation perspective (the latter of which actually surprised me more).

    Perhaps it was simply my conference schedule that lead me through a group of speakers that didn’t deliver anything fresh or epiphanistic, but much of the content already resonated with me or could’ve been easily discovered via a simple Google search. To put it analogously, imagine paying a professional chef to teach you how to bake a potato, when you could’ve easily spent a few minutes looking up the method online. I highly doubt that the chef would offer something so insightful that wasn’t covered by at least one of the how-to-bake-a-potato authors online. That’s how I felt with every speaker. I walked out the first day of SIC with no more knowledge than when I checked in.

    Secondly, the presentation quality was sorely lacking, which is so ironic considering that this is supposed to be a conference filled with “interactivity” and creative minds. I could’ve forgiven the content if the live presentation quality was up to standard. The speakers were too conventional in how they presented the information. Slides were mundane, and the speaking was mundane (It reminded me of how a typical MBA would present information). They didn’t hold my interest for very long and the “yawn-effect” kicked in a few times. These speaking engagements last for around 45 minutes and the audience is essentially sitting around watching and listening. A good film, like a good speaker, should be able to hold my interest. It makes me wonder how many of these speakers have ever watched an Apple keynote or some of the better TED talks. Those keynotes/talks have spoiled me and set the standard for how it’s done. And yes, it is perfectly reasonable for me to compare the best that I’ve experienced with others in the same category.

    The existence of the Web has elevated my expectations and standards because never before have I been so OUT of the dark when it comes to information. And as such, the game has been elevated, and speakers need to do better.

    Comment by Timothy Zhu on November 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm

  2. Great point. I think some of us commented on the same: that some of the talks were weak or lacking. I remember having that thought actually on the first talk I saw. But then I quickly realized something else was going on too. Despite the quality of the talks, I found myself in a different mode than of that when I’m sitting interacting with the computer (obviously).

    Quickly, I started seeing this event in a different way; as a combination of: the people I connect with, a way to measure up my own knowledge, an opportunity to hear from other local companies — besides any traditional learning that might happen in addition.

    Networking, knowledge confirmation, competitors/peers status are also types of learning, as they’re information you take in to form the bigger collection of knowledge it takes to run a business or a profession.

    On top of that, some traditional learning always happens, even if it’s by seeing a tool being used in a different way or to get a different result, not matter how brilliant or not they are. Strangely, there’s also learning that comes from seeing something being done poorly, as one immediately tends to think how it could be done better; and sometimes we’re actually are inspired to do so.

    Amazing presentations are great too (are you referring to Steve Jobs, Tim? rsrsr), but if all presentations I saw always blew my mind away, I wonder if I’d feel too far to connect. I think the point of seeing peers doing stuff that we know about but which we’re not fully tapping into it yet is to encourage us to do so, maybe by inspiring confidence or giving us the right perspective to act on it.

    True, the usual firm pitches happened. But, I tried to not throw out the baby with the bath water.

    I left the conference thinking Ply is in with the latest trends and tools. That’s good. You want that in a conference of this type (a local one, vs. a national one). Then, I was inspired to play with some ideas that I’ve known about for a while but which sort of came up to the surface now more crystalized as I was exposed to them in a more relatable (to me) environment. Or maybe it was just the right time. Who knows?

    Those ideas are within User Experience.

    Comment by karina on November 7, 2011 at 11:26 am

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