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Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2012 about Complexity

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Saturday 10th March 2012

  • The Complexity Curve: How to Design for Simplicity

    by David Hogue

    Interfaces and devices are providing more and more power and functionality to people, and in many cases this additional power is accompanied by increasing complexity. Although people have more experience and are more sophisticated, it still takes time to learn new interfaces, information, and interactions. Although we are able to learn and use these often difficult interfaces, we increasingly seek and appreciate simplicity.

    The Complexity Curve describes how a project moves from boundless opportunity and wonderful ideas to requirements checklists and constraints then finally (but only rarely) to simplicity and elegance. Where many projects call themselves complete when the necessary features have been included, few push forward and strive to deliver the pleasing and delightful experiences that arise from simplicity, focus, and purpose.

    In this session, David M. Hogue, Ph.D. - VP of Experience Design, applied psychologist, and adjunct faculty member at San Francisco State University - will introduce the Complexity Curve, discuss why our innovative ideas seem to fade over the course of a project, explain why "feature complete" is not the same as "optimal experience", and offer some methods for driving projects toward simplicity and elegance.

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Saturday 10th March

    In Ballroom BC, Austin Convention Center

Wednesday 14th March 2012

  • Next Stage: Love Inks

    E.S.P., Love Inks’ first album, was conceived and recoded with strict, direct motives. No frills, tears through extravagant side roads, solos, certainly no jamming, and no extra instrumentation. That being said, the album features a Dr. Rhythm 660, an electric guitar, an electric bass guitar, at special moments a Moog Satellite, and, most importantly, the vocals.

    Our heroes are masters of simplicity and tact. The poet Frank O’Hara is one of them: “I don’t even like rhythm, assonance, all that stuff. You just go on your nerve. If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run.” This sometimes leads to uncomfortable situations, but we never get caught by the blade.

    The idea was to get the purest signals from all instruments and feed them through a Tascam 8 track reel-to-reel, which would immediately warm the sounds and weave it all together. This process was drawn out on a piece of paper, in schematics form, before recording: the less digitized, the better. In March of 2010, we started the process with fifteen or more songs, and by June we were down to a solid ten.

    The songs featured on E.S.P. were written to showcase the essence of emotion behind each instrument. It started as an exercise and became the only way to do it, forever. With the guitar and bass, we found there is a way to drop it perfectly into the song, in between everything, so that the vocal can exist in its own world, independently, above the song.

    For the lyrics, Sherry channels the intensity and love between Yoko Ono and John Lennon. The art of Ono, inherently Japanese, is concise, and inspired John Lennon to follow suite: “Try shaving it all off and getting down to the nitty gritty—that’s what I always try to write. I’m not interested in describing a fucking tree. I’m interested in climbing it or being under it.” Give it to them straight, with honesty.

    Sherry is also a firm believer in positivity. Her lyrics are never abusive or cynical. We are a family, and in some ways stronger because we are always supportive. The album reflects a time and place for everyone in the band. A time to pear down to what is necessary, essential. Cut out complexity, and you’ll find a deeper layer that is thicker and stronger. Like the human body, you’ll eventually end up at a nerve; once it’s hit, that’s when we know we’re there, and that’s when we press the record button.

    At 12:00pm to 1:00pm, Wednesday 14th March

    In Exhibit Hall 3/4, Austin Convention Center

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