CaT London

Creative people and technical people have not always worked well together. Often designers dream up blue sky designs that make the technologists twiddle their knobs in frustration. Alternatively, the technologists can build something incredibly advanced but which is neither attractive nor usable causing designers to pull their (well-groomed) hair out. Lately, however, these two different hemisphered skills have become much closer bedfellows. Much of this is aided by modular technologies or open APIs that allow people to easily manipulate functionality and add their own customisable design. People can have a foot in both camps. Coming from my Product Design Engineering background, and now my front end/back end web perspective, I was eager to attend the latest CaT event yesterday in London which showcases the best of creative technology from both perspectives.

The ‘Creativity and Technology’ one day conference was held in the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road just off Sloane Square. A suitably artistic and creative venue. Unfortunately the technology did not match the ambience as the WiFi was playing up all day. A real shame at a conference like this, I have to say.

The lineup of presenters, however, did not disappoint at all. Speakers came from huge digital production and design agencies such The Mill, AKQA and Berg. Discussions came from topics such Augmented Reality, Latest online marketing campaigns and How Social Media is changing cities. The speakers’ accents came from such far flung places as London, New York, Ireland, Sweden and good old Glasgow.

Some very interesting uses of creative technology were demonstrated and discussed… Building games to help children learn about road safety. Augmented Reality to see the World Trade Center retrospecitvely in situ in New York. Removing choice for users to alleviate the stress of search. Observing that constants are now becoming variables in a world where every object has a data value which can be manipulated. Using music as a dynamic tool within a user-defined experience. And more.

Here are some excellent examples of the work that was showcased including video production, CGI, Flash 3D, Interactive sites and visualisations of multiple forms of information. Inspirational, one and all.

To be honest the day gave enough food for thought for me to write about 10 blog posts, so I will not attempt to try to squeeze them all into this one. What really hit me though was that the most interesting presentations were from those speakers who not only did not pigeonhole themselves into the creative or technologist camps but who also looked for inspiration from every aspect of life. They quoted literature and philosophy. They found perfect real-life analogies to explain very technical ideas. They, in a nutshell, showed us that ultimately it all comes down to awareness of human nature and the user experience. It’s not about the tools you use. It’s about the story.

Oh and I got to play about on a Microsoft Surface. Awesome technology. I’m already thinking of apps I would love to build for it. From both a creative and a technology perspective of course.