A love letter to Webstock

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Tricia Wang at Webstock - Zing Design
Ah, another year, another great Webstock and like a great summer romance, before you know it, it was all over.

Having been absent from Webstock for the past 2 years, I momentarily forgot that, above everything else, attending Webstock is like being on caffeine drip for the entire 2 days and you come away with:

  • Total exhaustion but still wants to keep going
  • Crazy rhetorics that nobody can understand if they haven’t been, like:

Volatiles… Stables…Le Corbusier…Deleuze… Metadata…F**** the client…Team Therapy Session… Never put your ego above your work…. Pacman…Mr Do…Dark euphoria…Medieval death metaller…Geocities…Flying toasters…16 plug types in the world…Elastic self…Trying to breed gravity out of a falling rock…Nothing lasts forever…People need reset… If they don’t do what you want, you need to punch them in the throat…Dead companies: Orcale, IBM & HP… Visualizing zombie apocalypse…Black Maria…Italic was created to mimic handwriting…Sitting is the new smoking…Powerpoint slides are like children, it doesn’t matter how ugly they are, they are great because they are yours…Don’t solve the wrong problem, learn to ask the right questions…Embrace failure, fail forward… The best part of a painting is the frame…A purple America…Goal: write 500 words before 8am…Saying you are not a computer person is like saying you don’t know how to read…Big mediocre for great money or great fun for little money, never do a big mediocre for little money…There is residual value in any creative work, it’s never one off…I have a superpower and that is trusting my gut…

There are way too many talks to mention, so I will focus on the one that jumped out at me as being truly thought-provoking:

Aza Raskin

Design is the beauty of turning constraints into advantages

I think out of everybody who spoke at Webstock, Aza was the one who really spoke to me as a designer. He spoke about how constraints were used by artists, architects, mechanical engineers and web specialists to create truly innovative work. After all, if design is all about problem solving like Michael Monteiro suggests, if there is no problem (you can do whatever you like, whenever you like), how can you design at all?

I really liked this saying from Aza:

“It’s not about thinking outside the box, because that means there are no constraints. Instead, it’s about figuring out which box to think inside”.

I like it because I really resent people who bring the same old cliche of “thinking outside of the box” because they were too lazy to spec a document or think you are somehow capable of some jedi mind reading or suddenly be able to reinvent the wheel.

He commended the following companies for working within the constraints

  • Twitter (140 word limit was imposed on it by their German Developer)
  • Text-only instagram (You can only use words to paint a picture)
  • SnapTrack (take an image and it will only last 3 seconds after you open it).
  • Six-Word Memoir (Write your biography in 6 words).

He also talked about two very interesting scopes:
Perceptual scope – How do you see things (To what extend, do you see the forest vs the trees)

Conceptual scope – How do you classify what you see (how you organise what you see)

And he left us with:

Great questions + Great constraints = Great solutions

Needless to say, it was great to mingle with old Trade Me friends and I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to talk to Miranda Mulligan and Mike Monteiro in depth afterwards, thanks to Charlotte from the UX Design Meetup.

Next post

March 18th, 2013

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