dConstruct 2011 - A Sad Disappointment

I attended my fourth dConstruct yesterday, looking forward to the usual encouraging, stimulating and inspirational ideas. Instead, what I left with was a new set of bathroom scales (the Withings set of WiFi scales mentioned in Kelly Goto's talk), keen motivation to steal the typographical style of two presentations and the vague feeling that some over paid speakers had stood on stage, barking buzz words and sound bites at me for a day. (I had paid the reasonable sum of £125 to be there, by the way, plus the less reasonable sum of a day's lost pay.) It was good to see from the #dConstruct Twitter stream that I certainly wasn't on my own in thinking this (the stream isn't particularly clear, since any positive comment about dConstruct has been immediately retweeted by @dconstruct themselves). The stream was pretty revealing; the most popular Tweet on there is:

Don Norman: "Don't design for the user experience: design for the memory. Memories last for years."

Well that's a stunning insight. I'm not sure what it means but it certainly has all the key ingredients for a popular Tweet. This comes from the same man who stood on stage and announced to us, as if he was revealing a secret hitherto known only to the monks half way up a mountain who trained Batman, that "Google's product is [wait for it...] you. And their customers are the advertisers".

I can tell you, it was a good job I was sitting down.

There seems to be a smell of The Emperor's New Clothes about this year's dConstruct. You might notice that it's got no substance, but woe betide you if you say so; it's the underdog, the upstart, it's cheap, it's in achingly-cool-Brighton, it's run by Clearleft...you don't say bad things about dConstruct.

Don't get me wrong: I've enjoyed previous dConstructs enormously. Sadly, this one was content free and a waste of my time.