Whew, well it’s been a busy couple of months and I’m excited to catch you up on everything I’ve been up to. Somewhere in between the X-Files reruns and seeing just about every movie nominated for an Academy Award, I took the time to plan and host my first ever design workshop. In collaboration with CodeDay and the wonderful people at LifeBlue, I was asked to give a design workshop to high school students from the DFW area who have expressed in interest in coding and design. For those that know me, it goes without saying that I can easily nerd out over design, so I had to strike a balance between being passionate enough to peak their interest in the subject, and not overwhelming them with all the details that someone in the industry like me might be into.
So I gave my best version of a one hour Introduction to Design course, covering everything from Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Design to the different careers that the industry has to offer. I’m not sure I managed to imbue the students with the same level of passion I had for it, but they were interested enough to ask some questions and take notes on the blogs and podcasts I recommended they check out if they wanted to learn more. If nothing else stuck, they at least got to see a fantastic video designed by Method Studios for 2016’s AICP show reel.
In addition to the workshop, I also gave a talk on the topic of Hostile Design at this year’s IgniteDFW. I’m by no means experienced in public speaking, so giving a speech in front of over 100 attendees was definitely outside my comfort zone. Hostile Design and dark patterns are subjects I’m particularly passionate about, and something that I feel hasn’t gotten the public attention it deserves. My audience was made up of a wide variety of individuals in the Dallas tech industry, so I started with the straightforward example of one of our city benches which use bars to separate the seats that masquerade as armrests while in reality they exist to deter the homeless from using them to sleep on. From there, I talked about examples that were increasingly more nuanced and systemic in their application. I had no idea if anyone would share the same level of passion I had, so it was a welcome surprise to have a number of attendees visit me afterward and tell me how interested they were in it.
So is this the start of a long and fruitful career in public speaking? We’ll have to see. I definitely got a kick out of doing it, and am looking for my next excuse to talk about design again.