This past Monday I was one of the curators for a conference called NEXT Service Design. It’s part, or rather a topical spin-off, of NEXT Berlin, where I serve as Program Director, and have been involved in a number of roles over the last few years. What we tried was to provide a focal point for the European service design community, a place to meet, exchange ideas, and mutually inspire each other.
I tend to organize events either with a pretty wide topical range – the common denominator being that all talks and speakers have to be inspiring and working on cutting edge stuff, in other words: new-ness – or with a strict focus on one emerging topic I’m interested in exploring (a vertical, so to speak). Examples for the first being Ignite talks or TEDxKreuzberg, the latter more focused beasts like Cognitive Cities Conference.
NEXT Service Design for me was an interesting experience in that it focused on a topic I knew very little about going in (very much unlike my co-curator Blundstone), and so I could learn a lot. Events about emerging technologies or topics are particularly interesting in that you can dig and find great speakers which may not have had a whole lot of exposure – it feels like unearthing or digging up a treasure in some way. It’s part of the beauty of being, in a sense, in the business of mainstreaming ideas. Now, Service Design as an industry and field has been around for quite some time, so it had a totally different dynamic to it. Yet, it’s a field that has been spreading quite unevenly between sectors and regions.
For example, as I learned from Sami Niemelä, in Finland Service Design is everywhere. No need to explain the idea to anyone, really, as all agencies and their clients are fully aware of its importance. In other countries like Germany or Sweden, it’s a different story altogether. As to why we can only speculate, but it’s a good reminder for why meetups (physical and virtual both) are so important – there’s lots to learn from one another, and diverse input leads to better outcomes.
And so it was good fun to first learn a bunch of the basics and theoretical background of Service Design, and then get two of my favorite speakers (Louisa Heinrich & David Bausola) on stage to give their unique perspectives on what’s going on.
So now that NEXT SD is over, time to quickly move on to Ignite Berlin 3, and in quick progression Dublin Web Summit, DLD Tel Aviv, WIRED 2012 and Mozfest. Yes, it’s conference season out there, and that’s the time to soak up as much input both by on-stage talks & hallway conversations as possible.
Disclosure: SinnerSchrader, who run NEXT Berlin, are clients of mine.