Jeff Howard
Author - Jeff Howard

Blogger Jeff Howard shares his impressions about past SDGC's, the pros and cons of experimenting with venues, and his hopes for the upcoming conference in Amsterdam.

I'm really looking forward to the 2016 Service Design Global Conference later this month. After eight years the SDGC is returning to Amsterdam on October 27th and 28th and the Westergasfabriek looks like an interesting choice of venue. Amsterdam will be a first for me this year but I've attended the SDN conferences in Berlin, Boston, San Francisco, Stockholm and New York and I've been thinking about the differences.

Last year the SDN tried something new with distributed proceedings between buildings on the Parsons School of Design campus in New York. It's a beautiful place with some fantastic architecture but the weather didn't cooperate that week and scurrying back and forth through the rain between sessions was a distraction. I was live blogging the proceedings as I did in Stockholm the year before but the New York venue imposed itself on my awareness in a way that hadn't been a problem at any of the earlier conferences.

Juggling a laptop, tablet, voice recorder and camera in theater-style seating with a packed crowd and locked-down campus internet isn't really the best way to cover a live event. Especially when you're constantly relocating. If you see me zealously guarding my place at a table in Amsterdam this year, now you'll understand why.

For the past couple conferences I've been attending as a member of the press but logistically I've been on my own. This year things are a bit different . Daniele Catalanotto will be blogging many of the sessions and SDN photographers will be providing a pool of imagery. There's always going to be somefriction running a conference at a new venue but I've wondered whether it might be possible to do this job from home by asking an SDN intern to Skype the sessions to me over a video call.

The downside is that I would miss out on connecting with the people who make the Service Design Network so vibrant. My hybrid role already cuts down on socializing during the conference and I'd hate to miss that part of it altogether.

Maybe there's a middle ground. All services need to consider not only the needs of their customers but the needs of their staff. This year I'm formalizing my relationship with SDN a bit more and I can see a future with a press table off to the side of the main auditorium stocked with the accouterments of a home office and functioning as a hub to synthesize interviews, video, photographs and presentations into a live conference stream.

We're not quite there yet, but maybe I should check in with Daniele and ask about his strategy. I've got a day or two in Amsterdam before the conference starts. Maybe we can find a way to smuggle in a table from IKEA.

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