I had the opportunity to participate in OpenCo San Francisco earlier this month. The interesting format provides a “music festival” type experience where attendees pick their “lineup” based on the companies they want to visit, area of town and space availability (think of a music festival with multiple stages and bands). The setup is pretty open and provides “HostCos” the chance to show off and offer insight to their business.
I began the day at Google with a presentation from the Google Glass team. A brief history of the microcomputer that sits above your left eye was followed by the opportunity for everyone in attendance to try Glass on. While an interesting trial and likely another step into the future of personal computing, the mass consensus (including myself) was that the vast majority of the population will not be wearing their smartphones — it least on their faces — anytime soon.
Next up was a visit to Rackspace. An overview of a few of its products was followed by a tour of the office, which features “Geekdom” an incubator type environment where local start-ups can have a desk or two. Interestingly, the prices were quite reasonable at ~$300 for a non-permanent desk (take your stuff home every day) to ~$475 to claim the same spot everyday. That’s less than the places I know of in Portland.
The last office we visited before heading to the airport was WIRED which turned out to be the highlight of the day. We received presentations from Mark McClusky, Editor of WIRED.com and then Cliff Kuang a Senior Editor and Designer of WIRED.
McClusky spoke about the differences (and similarities) between WIRED’s three publishing platforms, print, website and tablet. While print magazine subscriptions continue to grow, more emphasis is being placed on cross-platform integration based on the content provided, use of each medium and reader analytics. WIRED is also constantly looking to evolve its media offerings and is looking at many platforms, including feature length films.
Kuang is relatively new to WIRED (a couple of months) and recently drove Fast Company’s online properties. He was a very interesting, dynamic and opinionated presenter who shared his views on design, also focusing on how design should anticipate and solve problems.
A specific example of design anticipating and solving problems took us outside of WIRED and the media/publishing world completely. He took us to the Magic Kingdom and Disney Parks and Resorts where they are testing MagicBands to take their user experience (UX, a key component to design) to another level. The device enables Disney to design visitor experiences based on that guest’s preferences, park resources and specific desired outcomes.
Also, look for a new website design from WIRED soon.