Break from aboveUXCampLondon 1.5 was quite fun. Held at the extravagantly spacious offices of LBi on Brick Lane, with security provided by elite attack badgers, attendance was down a little from last years event: ash stopped play for a few people.

I'd completely failed to write a presentation in time, so instead ran a little fishbowl-style discussion on something that's been gently nagging at me for a few months: what the intimacy of mobile as a medium might mean for the products and services we build on it. These physically close and available devices are simultaneously private (storing in-depth personal information) and public (as status symbols and loudspeakers); and as touch interfaces become more commonplace, the basic mechanisms for interacting with them become less intellectual and more instinctual: witness the speed with which any 4-year old gets to grip with an iPhone.

As a format, Fishbowl worked quite nicely: we heard opinion from across the 10 or so attendees without anyone jockeying to speak or being talked over. I found simultaneously facilitating and trying to contribute a bit icky (as usual). I've stuck my notes from the session here and here, but to put a bit more meat on their bones:

  • Despite being intimate, mobile is often a proxy for intimacy - a means of avoiding or substituting for it.
  • Sharing a mobile in the UK is something we're fairly uncomfortable with; in other cultures it's quite natural.
  • As use of sensors for data capture increases and we start to gather, say, in-depth health information what happens to all this data? Who secures it, retains it, and how?
  • We ended up splitting device ownership from account ownership. Wouldn't it be good to be able to half-lock a device so when handing it to a friend, they can use it in a restricted fashion? The analogy of private browser in modern web browsers was used.
  • Teenage shared use of mobiles, and group conversations around a single device as speakerphone, was brought out.
  • AdrianH told a tale of owning iQuarium, and being forced to kill his pet fish when upgrading from the lite to full version.
  • Where *is* data anyway? Is the idea of data having any sort of geographical location a bit passé?
  • We build relationships with software over time, as we do with people.

I attended a few other sessions, all of them enjoyable, and walked away (after a post-event beer on Brick Lane) with a few tasty things to think about... Many thanks to all the organisers, attendees, and LBi for making it the day it was!