12 thoughts on “Come up and see me

  1. Jeffery will this talk be along the same lines as your AEA “Understanding Web Design” lecture?

    If it wasn’t sold out I would come up again to see you speak. Good luck.


  2. Seeing as you’re the only one with the word ‘web’ even in their profile on the AIGA website, I’m wondering how your role will play out in this conference.

    Contrary to web conferences I’m guessing there’ll be a lot of people there who will have to adapt to the medium during the presentation, whereas at web conferences you’re in front of a group that speaks your language.

    I hope you will follow up this post with a – albeit tiny – report. Cheers.

    – Maykel Loomans

  3. I was in the audience and I assure you, Jeffrey was terrific, as usual. Before you make snide comments about the composition of the audience and other speakers, please read through the schedule: http://gainconference2008.aiga.org/content.cfm/gc08-schedule

    This conference was about the intersection of business and design, not print design, not web design, not any other kind of design. Recurring themes were the imperative of anthropology in reaching and empathizing with your audience, of shifting design and designers to the highest levels of business strategy and development, and of holding to high standards of innovation and sustainable practices.

    Laura Granka of Google spoke about research into search habits and behaviors, Khoi Vinh of NYTimes.com spoke about keeping the user in mind, Armin Vit and Briony Gomez-Palacioof UnderConsideration about building a business and a family, Malcolm Gladwell of The New Yorker spoke of the necessity to work long and hard to become excellent at anything, and numerous others spoke to the audience and discussed amongst themselves the intricacies of running a business and pursuong our passion for design.

    I implore you to not be knee-jerk. You will be hard-pressed to find a stronger supporter of Jeffrey Zeldman than I. I am also the Web director of AIGA. I am writing here entirely in my non-professional guise. I repeat, I do not speak for AIGA, but I have grown tired of reading uninformed teardowns of an organization that works hard to promote the importance of design in the world.

    I welcome productive input from all digital creatives interested in improving AIGA’s relevance and value in our communities. Should you choose to take me up on this invitation, you may reach me at lydia [underscore] mann [at] aiga {dot] org.

  4. Maykel:

    Although it is a conference about the intersection between design and business, the audience was composed largely of designers, most of whom have designed websites. Nothing was lost in translation. And my talk was about empathetic web design, which fit nicely with what many other presenters were discussing. (All good design is empathetic first.)


    To your point, it is a great conference, with one amazing speaker after another, all very tightly run, and with useful and inspiring themes readily emerging from the spaces between speakers (and the gentleman who interviewed speakers and helped the audience draw connections).

  5. Lydia:

    I believe due to the brevity of my comment made it seem somewhat negative towards the conference, the exact opposite of what I was going for.

    Referencing back to the earlier post Jeffrey made on this conference, I noticed that the conference itself had few influence coming from the web area, henceforth there was quite an amount of curiosity on my behalf when I noticed that Jeffrey would be speaking and what influence it would have on the conference as a whole. Mind you, I would’ve loved to attend this conference, yet since I’m still in the startup phase with my company / career and because of the fact that I live in europe, I only cross the pond once a year for a conference. :)

    Regarding the apparent negative vibe my previous comment could have made towards non-web designers; I did not try to imply that non-web designers would’ve been flabbergasted by the presence of Jeffrey onstage, and would have to take out their dictionaries. (or wikipedia ;) )

    My view on the target demographic of the audience is that it didn’t initially seem aimed towards web designers, until a later stage, when Jeffrey was added to the list; and I believe at that point the conference was full already. The idea this gave me was that the crowd could’ve consisted of a larger group of designers from the web sector, which would’ve meant a larger spread in the interaction and influencing between the different sectors.

    I would like to add that I have high regards for AIGA, especially because of the broad spectrum it takes on and the fact that design ever so often gets put into second place – I would love to reference a blog post I am currently working on, but I haven’t had time to finish it.


    I am glad to hear that my assumptions about the audience were false and your talk fit in nicely with the overall conference theme. What I was wondering is if there were some notable differences between this conference and for example a conference like AEA.

    Secondarily, why am I not allowed to use the ‘small’ tag! ;)

  6. Secondarily, why am I not allowed to use the ’small’ tag!

    Take that up with WordPress. :D

    Yes, it was a very different conference from An Event Apart. For example, at An Event Apart, attendees sit at tables with their laptops in front of them. There is Wi-Fi, power strips for laptops, etc. Our attendees require these amenities.

    At AIGA GAIN (at least, this year), attendees sit in seats, stadium style. Laptops are not on display.

    At An Event Apart, speakers talk for an hour, with a few minutes of audience Q&A at the end; at GAIN, most speakers spoke for 25 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A conducted by a professional interviewer (no audience Q&A).

    There were many format differences, time differences, differences of set-up.

    Both conferences address high-end concerns, and both are single-track events: the audience watches one show, rather than choosing from a menu of parallel sessions. In these ways, they are similar.

    AIGA GAIN has more speakers, speaking for less time. It is like one brilliant pitch after another. The presenters are extraordinarily high-end; they also come from many areas of the design profession (and many are not designers, i.e. the floor can be given to brilliant anthropologists, business leaders, and so on).

    At AEA there is obviously much more focus on web-specific concerns; AEA is 14 in-depth sessions with leading web practitioners. There is inspiration and high-end discussion, but you also get your hands dirty, so to speak — there is some emphasis on practicality and skills mixed with the more aspirational stuff.

    I’m too involved in the development of An Event Apart’s content to be an objective observer; both conferences are learning experiences and entertaining.

  7. Thanks for the insight into your experience at AIGA GAIN. The differences between AEA and AIGA GAIN are much like I thought they would be, yet I still thought there would be an apparent amount of laptops in the audience.

    I have to say I much prefer single-track events, since multi-track events always give me the feeling of missing out at certain points in the conference.

    Definately interested in keeping an eye on AIGA GAIN, already had my eye open for AEA ;) (any plans for a EU version of AEA?)

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  9. I’m really sad to hear that Erin is stepping down as editor of ALA. I’ve only had the opportunity to work with her on two occasions, but both times she was responsive, brilliant, and careful. She’s what every editor should be–a guide and tutor. I always looked forward to her criticisms and suggestions, as they inevitably made my work shine that much brighter.

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