Wednesday, December 05, 2012

A strong idea survives shrinkage

I’m going to be speaking at SXSW Interactive 2013. I feel lucky and blessed. But I also put a lot of time and thought into my application, which certainly helped.

Photo credit: Dylan Reibling
This week I was asked to convert my 1,000 character topic description (150 words) into 140 characters (22 words). I suspect this is the sort of thing that makes many people panic. But because I spent so long crafting a title for my talk that summarized those 1,000 characters (“Creating Great Analog Souvenirs for a Digital Era”) I felt confident I could distill my thoughts without weeping openly.

I’ve included three summaries here (140 characters, 400 characters, and the original 1,000 characters) in case it helps other people understand how to prioritize and condense. It’s a great skill to have, but one that can be tough to learn. During my time at the CFC, we were asked to do a similar exercise for txt2hold, and I found that it was a great way to determine the inner and outer orbits of a particular idea.

140 characters
Online and offline worlds are now melting together. Learn why and how artists are creating analog souvenirs to preserve our digital lives.

400 characters
Online and offline worlds are now melting together. But life in the cloud lacks the permanence of paper, which is why we’re starting to lose significant emotional moments in the digital ether. In response, artists and brands are creating analog souvenirs. Learn how to convert fleeting texts and tweets into physidigital keepsakes through a mix of research, design thinking and creative inspiration.

1,000 characters
The online and offline worlds are now melting together, thanks to smartphones and social media. But as our life shifts into the cloud, we’re starting to realize that 0s and 1s lack the tangibility and permanence of paper and film. Significant emotional moments are easy to misplace in the online ether, which helps explain why artists and brands are trying to create analog souvenirs of our increasingly digital lives.

Want a coaster of your favourite Instagram photo? No problem. Looking for a miniature printer that connects to your smartphone and generates a tiny personalized newspaper? Done and done.

Drawing on my experience as co-creator of and, two interactive art projects that generate unique paper keepsakes of digital experiences, I will explain the whys and hows of converting fleeting texts and tweets into permanent analog souvenirs through a careful mix of research, design thinking and creative inspiration.