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Souls & Machines: Designing The Future of Content37:18 with Hannah Donovan
Less than a decade ago, big data and collaborative filtering were going to solve our desires for discovery and inspiration. Words like 'editorial content' or 'curation' were unspoken. Computers were unbiased; computers could scale millions. Since then, humans vs. computers has become a tired debate, and what's emerged for the future is that these are both valuable tools in a large, varied toolkit. Today, content companies are moving into digital products, tech companies are learning how to make content, and new models that combine both are popping up. The same product design questions of democracy and scale apply, but the future of content and technology is much more nuanced. Learn how to approach designing for content through case studies, experiments, and of course â€“ stories. Lots of stories :)
[MUSIC] 0:01 All right, let's go. 0:16 If you're still coming in, come all the way up to the front. 0:19 It's better up here I promise. 0:21 It's more fun. 0:23 So, let me, there we go. 0:23 All right, so I'm Han and I design products, mostly for the music industry, 0:26 as I just said. 0:31 And it really started here. 0:32 I feel like if I'm going to be talking to you guys for a while, 0:34 I'm gonna tell you a little bit of a story first about who I am and 0:37 where I come from, from a more non-professional context. 0:40 So, I started designing really early. 0:43 I always knew I wanted to be a designer as a kid. 0:45 I started messing around with computers pretty early on. 0:47 And I come from a good place to do this. 0:51 I come from Canada where it's freezing cold. 0:52 So actually sitting in front of a computer all day is a great thing to do. 0:55 Oh, are there Canadians here? 0:59 >> Yeah. >> [APPLAUSE] 1:00 >> Oh, hello, Canadians. 1:01 All right, so yeah, I'm originally from Edmonton. 1:03 That's where I grew up. 1:05 And I moved to Toronto right after college, which was probably the hardest 1:07 challenging move of my life because I moved there with no job and no money and 1:12 had to sort of hack my way into the big city. 1:17 And I did and started working as a professional web designer. 1:19 And then in 2006, I made another big change, and I moved to London. 1:22 And I stayed there for eight years, and I became British. 1:27 Are there any British people People in the audience? 1:30 Hello, as I'm Canadian and British. 1:32 Where everybody looks like that, obviously, no, I'm just kidding. 1:35 I went to go work for 1:37 a company called Last.fm, and this the office that I went to go work in. 1:38 That's what it looked like. 1:41 It was the start up before their first round of venture capital funding. 1:42 With these crazy mother fuckers here, 1:46 back in the day before phone cameras had even good dpi cuz it was so old. 1:48 And there we started working on the social music revolution. 1:53 And that was a lot of fun. 1:57 And I did all sorts of things in London, had a great time. 1:59 Here's two of the guys on my design team, DJing one of our parties. 2:01 And I learned many things about the music industry, about technology, 2:06 about design, and loads of other stuff. 2:10 And then after I left Last.fm, I started my own company. 2:12 This is My Jam with my co-founder Matthew Ogle. 2:16 That's us at fitting imagery. 2:20 Hey, come on in, come on all the way up to the front, it's better up here. 2:23 And I recently moved to New York City in December. 2:26 So I have moved around a lot for my job, and it's been a lot of wild rides and 2:31 putting myself into places where I feel really uncomfortable. 2:35 But it's ultimately been really fun, and I'm so grateful that I could do it. 2:38 Similar to what Aaron was talking about yesterday in the keynote, 2:42 I think that moving around and doing some of this wild stuff is pretty amazing for 2:46 your career in terms of what it teaches you. 2:50 And New York has definitely been a wild ride, 2:52 because I moved to here, moved to New York, rather, to go work for 2:55 a brand new product incubator that was funded by MTV. 2:58 And it sounded like an amazing job on paper. 3:01 And three months into it, my boss's boss left, the president of MTV left. 3:05 And then my boss left, and so I left as well. 3:10 [LAUGH] That's that slide. 3:13 Needless to say, it has been an adventure. 3:17 Hey, come on in, we're still just getting started. 3:19 So other very highly important things that you need to know about me before we get 3:23 started are I have five sisters. 3:26 My spirit animal is the tiger. 3:30 But that doesn't mean you should be afraid of me, it's a nice tiger. 3:33 [LAUGH] My favorite film is Monsters Inc, 3:36 because I'm like five on the inside. 3:40 So that's a good tone for the rest of this talk, okay? 3:42 That's how seriously I'm taking things. 3:44 And I'm a cellist, but I love hip hop. 3:47 So those are my two favorite kinds of music. 3:51 And right now I'm really into power clashing, 3:53 which if you don't know what that is, you should go look it up on the Internet. 3:56 Okay, all right, let's go get started now. 4:00 This is my favorite picture on the Internet, right? 4:03 Isn't this good? 4:08 I love these guys. 4:09 Okay, now for some serious stuff. 4:10 So, my background is in designing these digital platforms for music. 4:12 And the reason I wanted to mention this up front, 4:16 is because we're gonna be talking about content today. 4:18 And a lot of content comes sort of from the background of talking about it on 4:21 the publisher's side. 4:25 So if you're sitting in the audience here today as a publisher or 4:26 as a content creator, I'm gonna be talking mostly about the other side of the coin. 4:29 And so what happens to that content when it winds up on a big platform? 4:32 So to start this story off, like I mentioned to you I went to go work for 4:36 Last.fm. 4:41 And the reason that I wanna start here is because I need to talk a little bit about 4:42 computers and people for a sec. 4:45 Okay, just hear me out. 4:47 This is the philosophy part of this talk. 4:48 We'll get into the practical stuff next. 4:50 And so at Last.fm, they had this idea, right, that music recommendations could 4:52 be solved by what they called the wisdom of the crowds or collaborative filtering. 4:58 So this is similar to Amazon, where it's like, you bought kitty litter. 5:02 You might like to buy this cat carrier. 5:06 It's the same idea but for music. 5:07 It was a precursor to Spotify in a lot of ways. 5:09 We did something called scrabbling, which was tracking everything that you listened 5:11 to and using that attention data to figure out your music recommendations. 5:15 Which, at the time, was pretty weird and crazy, and 5:19 now people are totally used to things listening in on their music habits. 5:21 And it was cool. 5:25 I got to work with piles of big data at a time when lots of other people didn't have 5:27 that to play with yet 5:31 and make really cool data visualizations and even print them as newspapers. 5:31 And that was nice, but this kept on happening. 5:36 When I would talk to people, in all of my anecdotal user research every time I 5:40 sat down with people and talked to them about features, 5:44 they were like, yeah but the best music recommendations come from my friends. 5:47 And so I started to become a little bit disillusioned with this. 5:52 But then on the other side, 5:55 there's also a limit to these music recommendations that come from friends. 5:57 Because another story I heard a lot was like, oh yeah, 6:00 my buddy from college he used to have amazing music taste. 6:03 And then he moved to Tokyo and I now, I don't know, 6:06 I just sort of listen to the same music I listened to when I was 18. 6:09 Does anyone know this story? 6:12 Yeah, I see some few people nodding. 6:15 So, while I was starting to get kind of disillusioned by this idea that 6:17 computers could solve all these problems, at the same time, 6:20 this one on one human interaction doesn't really scale. 6:24 And at the same time, there was this sort of war happening in the music industry, 6:27 this war of computers versus humans thing happening. 6:33 So 2012, man versus algorithm face off. 6:37 2013, man versus machine, again at. 6:40 2014 [LAUGH] it's still going on, right? 6:45 And it's probably still happening today. 6:48 And this is just totally ridiculous, because it's a complete false dichotomy. 6:51 Obviously, we need to use the best tool for the job, which means humans and 6:57 computers, and it's all on a spectrum. 7:02 And it just means you have to be kinda smart about where you use what. 7:04 So, after I left Last.fm, Matt and I founded This Is My Jam. 7:08 And This Is My Jam was a huge reaction to this whole sort of like, 7:13 let's use computers to solve everything. 7:16 And it was much more about, okay, let's ask people what they're listening to. 7:18 So it was based on the premise that we're gonna ask you what your favorite song 7:22 is right now. 7:25 And we made those songs look really beautiful and 7:26 sort of different than the way other people were doing it at the time. 7:28 And then when we stuck it into sort of playlists, 7:31 what we discovered is that the playlist just worked, which was crazy. 7:34 Because if you've ever tried to use a playlist engine and hook it up to 7:39 a bunch of data, it's actually really hard to get anything useful out of it at first. 7:42 And the first time we hooked it up, 7:47 we were like, wow, this playlist is just really good. 7:48 Why is this working? 7:50 Is there a bug? 7:51 And so we tested it again, and it just kept on working. 7:52 And we realized it was because we completely stacked the deck, right? 7:55 By asking people what their favorite song was, 7:59 we had this sort of all hits no filler, amazing, beautiful content to work with. 8:02 Then when the playlist engine got hooked up to it, it just worked. 8:07 And so that was really gratifying to me because it felt like we'd sort of cracked 8:12 this problem of making humans and computers work together and 8:16 serving up the best content for you. 8:19 And this is where I'm at today, guys. 8:23 It's that humans can connect us in ways that computers can't. 8:25 We know this because the stuff that humans make with content is emotional, 8:29 it's storytelling. 8:33 It's this wonderful sticky glue that's going to stick in our brains. 8:35 I bet if you remember anything from this talk today, it will probably be that 8:39 whirlwind of Instagram pictures I showed you at the beginning about my life, right, 8:43 [LAUGH] not this stuff. 8:47 But then at the same time, 8:48 computers can connect us in all these ways that humans can't, right? 8:50 They can scale infinitely. 8:54 They can connect people across the world, that, 8:55 otherwise they wouldn't have been able to. 8:58 They can make good guesses about what you need and want, and 9:00 we just saw some of this stuff with centers in the previous talk. 9:03 And so as product designers, obviously, we need to be intimately familiar with 9:07 everything that technology has to offer, right? 9:11 But, I hope that we're all pretty familiar with what computers can do at this 9:15 conference. 9:19 [LAUGH] So, let's talk about designing for content. 9:20 I want to talk about audio, video, pictures, words, this stuff. 9:23 Because I believe that product designers, 9:30 we're the connective tissue here between this art and this vessel. 9:32 And this art being this content that normally sits inside something that 9:36 we make as a platform. 9:40 And if you've ever been to a really horribly curated gallery show of 9:42 an amazing artist you love, you'll know how frustrating that experience is. 9:46 Or a really great film but in a totally shitty cinema experience. 9:51 You'll know what I mean about when you have great art inside this vessel that 9:55 doesn't really work. 9:58 And that's our job. 9:59 And the reason that it's our job is because we have perspective. 10:01 That's probably the most important thing that as humans 10:08 we can offer to this experience and also as designers. 10:12 I was at this talk at the New School in New York 10:16 last month I think and there was a panel of designers sitting up on the stage, and 10:20 one of the students raised her hand, and 10:24 she asked one of those typical questions that students do about, what's 10:26 the most important thing to becoming a great designer, or something like that. 10:30 [LAUGH] And pretty much unanimously across the board, 10:33 the whole panel answered in a different way. 10:36 Like, have a point of view, have a stance, have a perspective. 10:39 Because, as a designer, what you really want is a reaction to your work. 10:44 You want people to either say like, wow, I love that! 10:49 Or like, no, I totally hate that. 10:51 Like, I would be happy with either of those extremes, but 10:53 what you never want is like crickets. 10:56 I mean why design if you don't have a perspective, or 10:58 a really clear point of view about how you're doing it. 11:01 And so this leads me to another story, which is, 11:05 I was reading this book around the same time, called The Moment of Clarity. 11:07 Has anyone here read it? 11:10 No? It's a pretty good book. 11:12 It's kinda dense, you can skip some stuff. 11:13 But generally overall, good book. 11:15 [LAUGH] Anyways, this book is about building really meaningful businesses. 11:17 And in this book they talk about this philosopher Hubert Dreyfus who's 11:22 a philosophy professor at Berkeley and 11:26 he's done a lot of work in the field of artificial intelligence. 11:29 Particularly in sort of taking it down [LAUGH] by saying that hey, you know, 11:33 I'm not really sure that computers are going to be able to do this kind of 11:38 stuff for us one day. 11:42 What he was telling the authors of the book when he was interviewing with them, 11:44 was like, what's relevant right now is that I'm sitting here, 11:47 talking to you in this room. 11:50 Whoa, what just happened? 11:52 Oh, cool. 11:54 What's relevant is that I'm sitting here talking to you. 11:55 What's not relevant is that the room may have like 10 billion specks of 11:59 dust on the floor, or that there's two screws over there in that wall, or 12:03 these other sorts of things that AI has been looking at. 12:06 The ability to have a perspective, 12:11 to respond to what is meaningful, that's at the heart of humanity. 12:13 So in other words, this is what I jotted down on my sketchbook that day is that 12:19 computers can't give a damn, or at least not right now. 12:24 Okay, let's just take a little break from the philosophy for a light break of fun. 12:30 So this is a stupid thing that I made at Hack Day a few years ago called Drinkify. 12:34 And unfortunately it's probably going to be the most well known of my work which 12:38 sort of pains me, because we made it in 48 hours while we were all wasted. 12:42 But basically you type in what you're listening to like this and 12:46 then it tells you what you should drink. 12:50 Okay? And this stupid thing has like had like 80 12:52 million page views and gone viral on Reddit like twice and when my little 12:56 sister, who's 17, found out that I made it she thought I was like a celebrity. 13:00 However the reason that I'm throwing this up here for a sec is because this is just 13:05 a stupid little thing, but what we did is we gave it some framing and 13:09 we just gave it some humor and had some perspective about it. 13:12 We did all those things that computers can't do in terms of serving up content. 13:15 So if humans can connect us in ways that computers can't, and 13:21 computers can connect us in ways that humans can't, 13:25 then the future of designing for content is really understanding both, right? 13:27 Sounds simple, but it's complicated. 13:32 [LAUGH] I'm talking about products that value, that contextualize, 13:34 that service, that can serve up content, that's adaptive, and platform agnostic and 13:39 do it all with a sense of perspective. 13:43 Does it sound tough? 13:46 Well, let's talk about it. 13:47 Practical part starts now. 13:50 The first thing I want to impress upon all of you is that all content is content. 13:52 What do I mean by this? 13:58 Well, right now at Union Square Station in New York City on the L Train, 14:00 the entire station is plastered with YouTube ads for their YouTube stars. 14:04 And this is pretty cool, but it also means that I think in 2015 the lines 14:09 between pro content and amateur content have now completely dissolved. 14:15 And we need to take all content onboard as content, whether it's UGC or 14:20 pro, I don't care, it all needs to be treated with some level of sensitivity and 14:24 perspective and understanding as designers. 14:29 So here's an example that's kind of interesting, right? 14:34 Because one of the biggest challenges with amateur content is sort of 14:37 understanding when it's becoming popular and 14:42 shining a light on it and making it discoverable, right? 14:44 And Snapchat recently launched this Discover tab. 14:47 It's pretty cool. 14:50 I can go in there, I like sharks, 14:50 I can go read stories about sharks on the National Geographic bit of it and stuff. 14:52 But has anybody ever tried to find a Snapchat star on Snapchat? 14:56 Raise your hand if you have. 15:01 No? 15:03 Okay. It's basically totally impossible. 15:03 You have to like look up the names of these people first, and 15:07 then you have to like type them in, and add them as friends to find them. 15:10 There's no way. 15:13 It's completely opaque. 15:14 Which is a real problem, and I think that if you approach user generated content by 15:17 thinking about the way publishers might approach content, this might not happen. 15:21 Here's a really great example. 15:26 I like sushi, and I'm looking for Japanese restaurants in Vegas, 15:28 this one comes up right here, and hey isn't this really nice. 15:31 There's like two nice reviews, two pieces of content, one is by a user and 15:35 one is by a food magazine that I recognize. 15:40 And they're not really that different from each other but 15:43 just based on where they're placed at the top of the screen I can see them both 15:46 right next to each other and this is very useful. 15:49 It's a really nice example of sort of treating UGC and pro content in balance. 15:51 And as this authenticity trend that were seeing right now I think 15:57 increases with no filter tag and this sort of DIY approach 16:02 to making content we're seeing other sorts of lines being blurred. 16:06 This is a new product called the Players Tribune, and 16:12 it's quite interesting, because what they're doing is basically 16:15 telling the stories of athletes through an editor, so 16:18 it's like direct to fan stories as opposed to going through a sports journalist. 16:20 They're disrupting that industry right now. 16:25 So in Kristina Halverson's book about content strategy for the web, 16:29 she talks about how you need to think like a publisher. 16:33 And I really like this because she also mentioned something along the lines of 16:37 like authors know their subject and publishers know their audience. 16:41 And so do we, as designers, right? 16:45 I hope we know our audience. 16:46 That's like a big part of our job. 16:48 And when we make digital things, we become publishers, she points out. 16:50 Whether we're publishing our own content, like on our blog, 16:54 which is like the way we've sort of typically thought about content strategy. 16:57 Or as I am challenging you to think right now, 17:01 on big platforms where we're helping people create content like YouTube. 17:03 We need to think like a publisher there too because this is everybody's problem. 17:08 Okay. This is point 2. 17:14 This is why you need to listen. 17:16 So Christina also points out that content has typically been somebody 17:18 else's problem since the beginning of the web and if you work 17:22 in content strategy you'll know that this was one the biggest hurdles to sort of 17:26 becoming a discipline when that book was written; I think it was like 2010. 17:31 We've come a long way since then, right? 17:35 It's gotten a lot better. 17:37 But I think it's still not enough. 17:39 And the reason I don't think it's enough is because I'm not convinced that we're 17:42 always being conscientious enough about content in the context 17:45 of dynamic content on platforms which is what I'm talking about today. 17:52 Typically content strategy has been more about thinking about it 17:56 from the publisher's perspective or this pro content perspective not from 18:00 the perspective of user generated content or large platforms. 18:04 So these are real things that real people have said when I've worked with them. 18:09 Actually really smart people. 18:13 And this is just stuff that happens when you're building a really large platform. 18:16 It's like oh, the API kinda returned this crappy image what do we do with it? 18:22 Or like, I don't know when copy goes there yet, 18:26 so I just like put some [INAUDIBLE] in. 18:27 Not allowed ever, by the way. 18:29 [LAUGH] Or like, you're not gonna like this, this last one. 18:31 So I actually have a story about this one. 18:34 When I was working on the Last.fm mobile app, 18:38 we were designing a new radio station because that's sort of 18:42 what we learned from our user testing that we needed to do. 18:45 And, one of the most difficult things about this, was that I wanted to 18:48 rename the radio station, and I wanted to give it some context. 18:52 And this was really difficult, 18:55 because it was [LAUGH] actually hard coded in the back end. 18:57 That wasn't a lie. 18:59 But what I had to do, was think a lot about all the places that that copy for 19:01 that radio station would get used. 19:05 When you start it up for the first time, 19:07 what happens if you connect it to a device? 19:09 What happens on a website? 19:11 On your mobile, all these different places. 19:12 And typically, that sort of framing, like writing a title around something, or 19:14 a caption on a video, or the quality of an image. 19:18 That's typically nobody's job when you're working on a big platform. 19:22 It doesn't really fall into design, it doesn't really fall into development. 19:26 It's everybody's job, it's everybody's job to think like a publisher and 19:29 think about those things. 19:33 The same way I'd argue that UX is everybody's job these days, too. 19:34 So we're actually starting to see a bit of a shift at the moment, 19:40 there's this trend, tech companies are hiring content and editorial staff, right. 19:44 YouTube's doing this. 19:48 Instagram is doing this. 19:49 Buzzfeed is obviously probably the best example of this. 19:51 And content companies are reinventing themselves to be competent in tech, right? 19:54 So the New York Times R&D lab, that's another great example of this. 19:58 So we're starting to see this trend towards crafting a balanced team. 20:02 And I think this is so important if you're working with content because 20:07 when you craft a balanced team, you have the opportunity to learn how this stuff 20:12 gets made, and you have the opportunity to learn about The development cycles, and 20:16 how it gets produces, and 20:20 then how you can kind of line things up to make a better experience across the board. 20:22 This also just seems to me so straight forward from a design perspective. 20:26 If you visit most designers, have to learn about how things get produced and 20:32 their craft, if you're an industrial designer, everybody has, what's it called, 20:36 manufacturing processes on their bookshelf, right? 20:40 It's just it's so basic that we should learn how this stuff gets made. 20:43 All right so we've been talking a lot about sort of what happens when content 20:47 gets sent off and goes to another platform but I want to pause here for 20:51 a second and talk about giving it a home as well. 20:54 So I'm gonna tell you about this with a metaphor of sneakers 20:57 Cuz I really like Nike shoes. 21:01 They're cool. 21:03 When you see people wearing Nikes on the street, you know, I notice them. 21:04 And like these are nice shoes. 21:07 But what's even cooler than noticing a cool pair of sneakers on somebody 21:08 is going to Nike [INAUDIBLE] Town. 21:12 And the reason Nike Town in New York is so beautiful is, 21:15 when you go in there, it's just this incredible experience of their brand. 21:18 And I could sub in any brand here. 21:22 I could also use Apple if you really like Apple products. 21:24 What I'm trying to say is there is this sort of balance between having 21:28 Owning this full experience, this brand story, and 21:32 then letting your stuff go off into the world, and live on these other platforms. 21:35 And you have always be careful about the two things. 21:39 So, to sort of go back in time for a second, TV, right, cable tv. 21:43 They are content companies, tv networks. 21:48 But, they actually don't own their own distribution, right? 21:52 The distribution companies do like Time Warner and Comcast. 21:56 The thing about this is that because they don't really own their own pipes, 21:59 they don't own the experience, which is a huge problem for them at the moment. 22:03 With digital, of course, that is not the case. 22:07 Content companies can own their own pipes, right? 22:09 They own their own API. 22:11 They own their own brand story. 22:13 They can have their own home for their content. 22:14 They can have their own hub where it lives. 22:16 Their equivalent of that beautiful brand story that you get in the Nike Store, 22:18 right, or Nike Town. 22:22 But with publishing out to platforms becoming more and more important, 22:24 which we're gonna talk about later on, 22:27 this brand story is also important to keep in balance. 22:29 And I think the lesson here is let's just sort of keep in mind this lesson from 22:32 the past with cable TV companies. 22:35 Because I could see some things actually going the same way right now. 22:37 All right. 22:40 Four. 22:42 Context. 22:43 I'm a designer. 22:45 I love talking about context. 22:46 I hope you guys like context too. 22:48 It's the best way to answer any question about design. 22:49 Oh, I don't know. 22:52 It depends on the context. 22:52 Okay, but no, seriously. 22:54 I feel like because I've worked mostly on music I kind of got 22:55 dunked into this a lot earlier than maybe some of the other disciplines. 23:00 Especially with regards to sort of the whole responsive design movement. 23:06 And the reason for that is that music is just hyper, hyper contextual. 23:10 So these are some old scenario sketches that I did when I was working on, 23:14 I think some playlist stuff at Last FM But the point is here, you need three and 23:18 a half minutes and you need headphones or speakers to listen to a song. 23:22 That is the bare minimum of context. 23:26 And there's all sorts of cases where that just doesn't exist or 23:29 doesn't make sense for the music and the platform. 23:32 So we're constantly thinking about context. 23:34 Designing for context has become a really hot topic in the last few years. 23:37 I'm sure you guys have seen some talks on it or read some stuff about it. 23:40 usually we're talking about the context of these devises that we're using. 23:44 Why? Because it's exploding right now. 23:48 We're all carrying our phones around. 23:49 We're starting to wear things. 23:51 Context is really, really important. 23:53 But it's more than just the context that we are in as people. 23:55 It's also the context of the content as well. 24:00 So there's two layers happening here. 24:03 So I like to take screenshots of interfaces and up here at the top [LAUGH] 24:07 I was working in the studio really late on a Tuesday night at 1 am in May 2014. 24:12 So this is last year. 24:17 And I was just like totally appalled at what was happening because 24:19 I was working on a talk I think and I'm getting some sexy time, 24:24 evening acoustic, cocktail jazz, easy listening, 24:29 what is this bath time stuff here, on Spotify and I was like guys Come on. 24:32 You can do better than this. 24:37 And this headline, let's have some fun tonight. 24:38 This is so the wrong context for what I'm doing at the moment. 24:41 A year later, down here, it also happened to be a Tuesday this week, same thing. 24:45 I was working in the studio late on a talk. 24:50 And it's gotten significantly better, right? 24:52 This is a lot more sophisticated. 24:54 So the imagery is better, there's nice typography, 24:56 there's some good copyrighting going on. 24:59 They're recognizing that this isn't just sort of a blob of content, but 25:01 there's actually some nice editorial framing starting to happen. 25:04 Except for the fact that I'm being recommended for peacefulness, and slow 25:08 stuff, and like the sleep machine when I'm trying to write my talk at 1:00 am. 25:12 Which is obviously an issue. 25:16 So, there's this combination of both this sort of like 25:17 editorial tone of voice,the human component, right? 25:20 But, also, like what do they know about me as a listener, I think, you know, 25:23 this There's this definitely has a lot further to go but 25:26 they're making a really valiant attempt at it here. 25:31 And also just from a design perspective. 25:33 I mean music should look cool. 25:36 I think like this doesn't speak to me yet as something that looks cool. 25:37 It's not like opening up NME or walking into a record store or 25:40 something like that So here's another example of context. 25:43 Something I'm super frustrated with is just this, 25:48 because you like y, we are going to give you x recommendation for content. 25:51 I think it's so naive, and we can do so much better than that. 25:55 But if you do have to do it, at least give it a little bit of like Emotion, and 25:59 have that perspective, that tone of voice that's so important for design. 26:03 So here on the left, this is Twitter, right? 26:08 So I was looking at the HYPETRAK account, which is a music serving site that I love. 26:10 And because I'm looking at it, it's who to follow? 26:15 Here you go, all these other things. 26:17 And it feels so Basic to me and like why? 26:19 What's it about these things, why should I follow them, 26:24 whereas here on the right hand side New York Times Now mobile app, 26:26 this is really nice, all it took was just one headline at the top that says. 26:32 Your nighttime read. 26:37 Right? 26:39 And it just puts it into context for me. 26:40 Like, okay, this is nice. 26:42 Actually, I would like to read a story about Robert Rosenberg for eight minutes, 26:43 but probably not in the morning on my commute on the L train, but like at night. 26:47 Yeah, sure. 26:52 I might dip into this now. 26:53 It makes sense. 26:54 And it's just the tiniest bit of framing. 26:55 This is what I'm talking about. 26:57 This kind of stuff is our job as product designers. 26:58 Maybe not necessarily to write this copy but to be thinking about this stuff, 27:01 to be that connective tissue. 27:05 And of course when you get the context and 27:08 the content totally right, amazing things happen. 27:10 I mean how many times has this been mentioned in conference talks in 27:13 just the last year? 27:18 It's incredible. 27:18 It's changed our lives where In the golden age of television, 27:19 just because they've figured out the context so well. 27:23 This last thing, we've talked, 27:30 I've actually heard a lot of stuff about this at this conference, which is good. 27:33 It's a big deal. 27:36 So adaptive content, this is a term from Karen McGrane's 27:38 book in Content Strategy for Mobile, which I hope you've read. 27:43 And she uses adaptive to mean that it should be more than just responsive. 27:46 Responsive is great. 27:52 We definitely need to make sure that things respond to Screen sizes, but 27:53 that's really just the tip of the iceberg here. 27:58 So even at this conference we've heard some people talking about diving 28:00 deeper here. 28:04 So yesterday I think Ryan highlighted how 28:04 important it is to prioritize the content properly, so 28:07 that you don't wind up with a call to action that's at the bottom of the screen. 28:10 So that's obviously super important. 28:13 Jen was also talking about how important the wait and the load time for 28:16 images is across different devices and how to improve that. 28:20 But it's more than just adapting to these devices. 28:24 It's also how this content makes sense across social media, across different 28:27 platforms, across print, across this website, across this Apple watch. 28:32 Wherever it might have to live, right? 28:36 All these places where it has to go, coming from the publisher's API, 28:39 how they structure their meta data, and so 28:42 that's what Karen McGrane in talking about when she means, adaptive content. 28:46 But, let's just look at the other side of the coin here. 28:50 The publisher end. 28:54 So the people that are really getting this right now of course are the ones that 28:56 are interested in making money from it. 29:00 [LAUGH] Right? That's always how it works. 29:01 Money talks. 29:03 And we're seeing a lot of changes right now. 29:04 So Snapchat just persuaded people to start making vertical videos, which, you know, 29:06 I think a lot of TV commercial people did not want to do for a long time. 29:11 And already they've seen that like, there's, 29:15 I think Nine times more completion rate on them, or something crazy like that. 29:16 There's this new cinematic pin, video add thing on Pinterest. 29:22 And of course we've been hearing a lot about Facebook Instant Articles 29:26 recently too. 29:29 You might've even seen some. 29:30 So Mark Boulton has a really great quote about this, I think. 29:34 That's, on it's own content is pretty dumb, 29:38 until some sort of smart design system, which is us, 29:41 [LAUGH] in this room, grabs it, and displays it in the right context. 29:44 And that's what I'm talking about here because this whole problem that Karen was 29:48 talking about, about like content strategists having to figure out all of 29:52 these places that this content's gonna go. 29:56 She talks about it like, I think she calls it a crazy magic trick. 29:59 Which it is, it's a totally crazy magic trick. 30:02 And it's way too much work for just one team. 30:05 This is a two-team effort here. 30:08 It's about passing the baton from one end, when you're sending all this stuff out, 30:11 and then on the platform-side also being understanding about how you're gonna take 30:15 care of this once you get it, not dropping that baton. 30:19 Because I think that we do a really bad job of this currently. 30:22 We're not always so perfect with that baton. 30:25 And of course, sometimes when we get the baton too, 30:28 it's not even in a very good state. 30:32 It's already been dropped many times before. 30:34 In fact, I think in the music industry, we sort of feel this all the time, 30:37 because it's this world that some of the grossest, 30:40 most ugly metadata I've ever had to work with. 30:43 But this, this is no excuse, okay? 30:45 So let me just give you a quick whirlwind tour. 30:48 First of all you've got this kinda typical stuff. 30:49 Like badly titled UTC. 30:53 And then you've got all sorts of different languages for track titles. 30:55 And then you need to make sure that those special characters work inside your search 30:59 so that people can find the content. 31:02 Super long band names. 31:04 Oh, remixes, what about more crazy characters, and more remixes, and 31:06 hip hop music, and classical music and all this stuff that's so hard to deal with. 31:12 Music is super messy. 31:18 But that's no excuse. 31:21 Coz those things are not your user's problems, 31:24 they're your problem as a designer. 31:26 And so you need to go the extra mile, and figure out how to clean that up and 31:28 make it presentable. 31:31 With This is My Jam, one of the things we do is, the first time people post 31:33 a Sound Cloud track, we ask them like, hey, is this the right title? 31:36 And sort of get them to make sure that it is, and reward them 31:39 being one of the first people to post this track as sort of a taste maker. 31:43 To make sure that that metadate is nice and clean, so 31:46 we can match it quickly the next time someone posts it. 31:49 Another thing we do is we use YouTube thumbnails as part of the song art 31:52 on This is My Jam. 31:57 This is an original, 31:58 like this is what it would look like if you pull a YouTube thumbnail. 32:00 And it's horrible. 32:04 I mean, this is completely pixellated, it's bad contrast and saturation. 32:05 I don't even know if you can see on this projector very well. 32:09 So the first thing that we did is, I sat down with the developer, and 32:11 I was like, okay, let's write some codes that we can crack the levels on this and 32:14 at least just add a little bit more depth. 32:18 And then, let's get rid of this horrible JPEG compression by putting 32:20 in a little bit of film grain to smooth it over, so you don't see it as much. 32:26 But let's not even stop there. 32:29 Because we wanted to create this beautiful experience of music, 32:31 why don't we also create some background filters so that they'll be keyed off this 32:34 crappy little YouTube thumbnail, and turn it into something beautiful. 32:39 So we looked at These are just notes from our sketchbooks. 32:42 All these sorts of different patterns and things that were happening and culture and 32:46 street fashion. 32:49 And from there we built a background filter system. 32:50 So again we're just grabbing that image and doing something cool with it. 32:53 And the results were really fun. 32:57 We got all these different sorts of things happening and at time this felt like 32:58 pretty new and different for the way a song could be represented on the internet. 33:01 So, I've talked a lot about content that's created by humans, 33:07 and how it's this emotional grid that connects us in ways that computers can't. 33:13 But then also how computers can spread it and surface it and 33:18 contextualize it, and serve it up in ways that humans probably never could. 33:23 And also I've talked about how content is not just some art 33:28 that lives inside a container, as I think it is often treated. 33:32 And this is a really hard stuff to design for, of what I'm talking about. 33:37 But it's worth it, it's really worth doing, and here's why 33:41 So this is one of my favorite quotes about design, from Bruno Munari, 33:48 where he talks about how a designer is a planner with an aesthetic sense, 33:51 which I think is a really good way of approaching it. 33:55 Then later in my life I came across this quote here from Jack Schulze, 33:59 how he talks about design, sure, it's about solving problems. 34:02 But it's also about so 34:06 much more than that, because design is also about cultural invention. 34:07 And, for me, I think it's kind of a combination of these two things. 34:12 I think that, at a minimum, the job of a designer is to solve problems beautifully. 34:17 But at the best, and when we're at our finest we're also creating culture too. 34:22 And so that is why this is so important, because we have this opportunity to create 34:29 culture when we bring together content and digital products in a way that is really 34:34 meaningful and contextualize, and does all these things I've been talking about. 34:38 So I'm gonna wrap up soon, and 34:44 I want to close with this really lovely quote from Owen D Young. 34:45 Owen D Young was the chairmen of General Electric, and at the time 34:50 General Electric had just figured out how to make the new tungsten filament, 34:56 lightbulb, kinda like those Edison bulbs that you see in hipster places right now, 35:02 you all know what I'm talking about. 35:05 And that was like a pretty big deal, 35:07 because this was the first incandescent lightbulb that didn't break very easily. 35:08 And so they were able to ship it and distribute it and 35:13 put it in people's homes and it was great. 35:15 And it took a lot of chemistry to figure out how to make that filament, 35:18 that wire so strong, and so 35:21 small, and do all the things it needs to do to make a lightbulb work. 35:23 And this is part of a speech that he gave when he was talking to, 35:26 I think it was Hendrix College, in 1934. 35:29 He was talking about culture. 35:32 And he says that culture represents a synthesis, 35:34 a sort of putting together of things. 35:37 So completely that the combination has an individuality of it's own. 35:40 It may only be an amalgam but 35:43 it's better, it's better if it's a chemical combination. 35:45 Culture does not exist in the form of powder, a mere mass of incoherent 35:48 particles and that's how I feel about culture on the internet today. 35:53 For the most part, it is a mare mass of incoherent particles. 35:57 But let's talk about the difference between an amalgam and 36:02 a chemical reaction. 36:04 So thinking back to chemistry here, an amalgam is this. 36:05 It's two things that are sitting next to each other. 36:10 It's a mechanical mixture. 36:12 But a chemical reaction, what happens is there's variability. 36:14 There's unpredictability. 36:18 These two things sort of give up their physical and chemical properties to become 36:19 something completely new and different there in the middle. 36:23 And that's why I think this is so important. 36:28 Because with everything we make, we have an opportunity for 36:30 that sort of chemical reaction. 36:33 Through treating all content as content. 36:36 Through making it every bodies problem, 36:39 instead of just one persons problem on your team. 36:41 By crafting these balanced teams and 36:43 learning about how it gets made and using context, and adaption, and 36:46 responsiveness, and all these things that we have in our tool kit. 36:51 To fuse this content together 36:54 with products to create these new, unique experiences and culture. 37:03 That's it. Thank you very much. 37:07 [APPLAUSE] 37:11
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