If we stopped discussing, we stopped caring

This post is a reaction to the discussion we had on Twitter about the Service Design Network and the location of the conference in 2010.

And the discussion that continued on this forum set up by Joel Bailey:

I suggested we should be in London, because we should go to the UK and London seems a logical choice. But, so it I learned, Cornwall already has been chosen as the favorite location. What's in Cornwall?

Andrea Siodmok (@designcomedy / from Cornwall) has an answer:

"Cornwall is hosting a major service design initiative in 2010 with over 20 European service design projects. For more info see the holding site www.dottcornwall.com There will be projects from Livework, Think Public, Standby, Radarstation and Engine to name a few...plus we have some EU funding to help bring new ideas to the conference."

And she continues: "Also I really enjoyed the Madeira conference and think that in the UK Cornwall will be doing really interesting work. Plus it has some good european flight connections and is 40 mins direct from London."

I think this is all very nice. (I'm not being cynical for a change :-)))

But how exactly does all this benefit our network? What are we hoping to achieve?
It's great Cornwall is active (very inspiring), but are we going to visit all those 20 projects? Are they going to be the topic of the conference? Is it necessary to actually be there (geographically)?

I agree that we should go the UK. But I'm sure there will be as many projects (if not more) from all agency's in London (we could take a closer look at Terminal 3).

Why London? London is very central, accessible and has a large SD community with many pioneers (and students that would love to be involved). Besides the SD community we can attract people with other backgrounds (and clients!!!) to spice up the conversation a little.

And bringing new ideas to the conference is great and necessary. But how is that related to funding? Do we need a bigger place? Is it going to be a free conference, or free for students? We (the network) could come up with lots of ideas that don't cost much but are very valuable.

I think it would be a good idea to make better use of the creative capabilities of our network. And we should keep having conversations like this in the open.

If our Service Design Network has problems with creating a feeling of co-ownership, being open, transparent and having an ongoing conversation with all members it would harm the whole purpose of spreading our vision and convincing organizations to embrace Service Design methods and tools.

And last but not least: If we stop discussing about these things it means we lost interest in the network! So let's talk.


Kind regards,
Arne van Oosterom

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Comment by Satu Miettinen on November 8, 2009 at 8:17
Great comments, I would still go for London, we who already come from places like Kuopio are connecting and spend lot of time and money for this. It comes quite effort consuming to find connections if places are not major cities. I really like Nick's comments and also Birgit's reply, Kuopio would be interested in organizing a country happening :)
Comment by olivier on November 7, 2009 at 21:39
London sounds good as another major capital from Europe. Easy flight booking at low cost is a must.
Regarding hotels' staying it is another cost challenge.
Nevertheless service design discipline should have some advantages :) isn't it?

Anyway to conference with a most affordable access will be to distribute most of its content online: contents, podcast, reports, slideshare, links, video, etc… live streamings and archiving too
an "opensource" service design conference, why not?

for me Workshops are the most valuable experiences that can be achieved during these conferences.
Unfortunately you can share personal experience only by time and location.
I always feel very frustrated by having to make a choice among a list of great workshops.
Therefore i am forced to miss great and very valuable experiences.
and there is no way (or so poor) to learn from others participants of side workshops
So reporting clearly each workshops with minimum good video & sound capture will make a huge benefit to all attendees out of the final presentations issued from workshops which are by far to brief or too polished results. A service design TV or SDN10 channel like? wisely I do not think it sounds so extravagant at least reporting workshops.
A sponsoring from channel4 or BBC (for UK) could help may be?
most of the tools that service design are related to are very connected with this discipline, isn't it?

These are may be just crazy suggestions but i would be happy to learn form you about what are you thinking about it?
Comment by Birgit Mager on November 6, 2009 at 18:21
This is a service two of my former students have set up: workshops about service design for students: http://servicedesigner.info/index.php - just as an example, they might even do it in English!
Comment by Jason Cooper on November 6, 2009 at 17:52
I'm glad students got a mention in the original post.

As an industrial design student more and more intrigued by the service design world I'd love it if students were involved. Conferences can often be an intimidating place for students, while common-practice for professionals the whole networking, conference thing is new to us, and due to high ticket prices not something we get the chance to experience all that often.

It makes me think, there should be more 'pop-up' conferences for students, by students. If you'd like a hand with the student side of things I'd be more than happy to help. And if anyones ever heard of conferences for students do share.

As for London, I vote yes, but I would say that I'm biased. Couch surfing network sounds cool, I have 2...
Comment by Mireia on November 6, 2009 at 15:54
speaking of budget and places, what if we create a couch surfing net. I mean if someone local has the chance to "lend" the couch to a non local travelling professional, it would help to increase the international participation.
Comment by rufflemuffin on November 6, 2009 at 15:14
Amazing set of points here.

I agree with Qin, and Thomas had mentioned earlier about video conferencing it. What if we live fed the event and had interactive questions from around the world, and other professionals.

And as Ralf mentions, this ning platform (well done Arne) is a great example of high value debate, in a low cost (if anything way). It doesn't have to be glitzy, it should be about the content.

I'm going to cross post from Lauren's blog;

On a realistic note then, let’s hold the conference in an easy to get to destination…er London…or somewhere in Europe that isn’t an island and too expensive for a student to travel to, or off putting for people on tight budgets…let’s have it somewhere accessible!

We should be learning from students and new graduates, and other ‘non design’ disciplines to look at service design evolving, not becoming stagnant and labeled.

The introduction of more participatory workshops at these kind of events could potentially work really well and because attendees would have to work together, conversations would have to start, new ideas would form and importantly, new connections between disciplines and backgrounds that perhaps would never have met would take place. This would be a move in the direction of an evolution of what the current discipline is and can achieve.

Let’s work together and practice what we preach!
Comment by Andrea Siodmok on November 6, 2009 at 14:23
As Programme Director of Dott Cornwall I would be very interested in exploring how we could run an amazing, innovative conference that would strengthen the network and enhance the world class thinking in the programme (e.g. through clients presenting too). I also think visiting real projects and hearing 'master-classes' from the designers on site would be a great option as an addition to a conference agenda. If you haven't been to Cornwall it is also the most incredible place that would rival Madeira as a backdrop with places like the bio-domes at Eden project http://www.edenproject.com/ as a potential venue. Dott ran Intersections conference in 2007 http://www.intersections07.com/ but this time our european service design projects really make more sense to link to SDN (if that was of interest to the members). The decision is for the organisers to make, but I do think this is a unique opportunity, so wanted to share the possibility with the network.
Comment by Qin on November 6, 2009 at 13:35
like Nick's bullet points, very practical.
I would also like to see some activities that support design students or startup designers to have a chat with experienced designers as well... it's not about fancy toolkit, it's about the nitty gritty of working in real world with people, even business people - unfortunately we don't teach that in the Uni right now. But it would be nice to have someone tell us about it!

Also having multiple locations but sharing presentation and question time using video conferencing might be another way of saving conference carbon footprints... that way we can even hear voice from Aisa like HongKong - I notice there were events in HongKong by SDN in the past, why not use existing knowledge pool?

Comment by joel bailey on November 6, 2009 at 12:57
I'm with Nick on this. Keep the borders open and let discussion thrive. I'd love to be involved with any planning for #sdnc10 - Joel
Comment by Ralf Beuker on November 6, 2009 at 10:40
Hi All & Arne in particular :)

even though my background is not fully rooted in the SD community I'd still like to add my 2cts. to the discussion.

Being an early member of the Design Management (DM) community for more than 10 yrs. now (and that has experienced many overlapping periods with SD) it's interesting to see the evolution of a new community with all its hazzles and struggles ;) We've had and still have this in the DM as well; it's a process with different stakeholders installing power structures to the system.

While this is somehow a normal phenomenon from my view I did recognize that most tensions arise between people who see the network/community mostly as a platform to network and strengthen their own standing within the network (this includes 'reputation' outside the network as well ;) while others focus on content development and community building. ... and yes, in between are the crowds that participate in this field of tensions and see facts like conference locations and speaker selection as given.

What I consider the biggest threat for such forming/evolving communities is the first group (those who use the network to mainly leverage) as they sooner or later install structures of buddy'ing and in-transparency. For the DM community this has clearly led to frustration and certainly not to any advancement in quality of content.

Accordingly a growing group of professionals decided to act and not re-act on things now and in the future. We are now setting up our own (un)conferences/structure with low threshold (aka costs, infrastructure, etc.) and try to be content driven as much as possible. The #miniunconference dealing with the whole field of 'Design Overlap' (Management, Service, Knowledge, etc) at the TU Delft one week ago has been just one example. Structures might be more loose & with lesser obligation, but there is always a core of people that take the lead and bring the ideas forward ... but in a democratic fashion.

In either way this Ning is a perfect example of content driven community forming and personally I love to see this, yes allow for calling it a 'threat' to these preppy, networking, EU-Funded, key-stakeholder driven, communities/events where you leave the place with the notion: "It has been nice having been here, but if I wouldn't have gone I wouldn't have missed too much". That is not progress, that is "Groundhog Day Conferencing" ;)

Good luck with this! :)


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