Fig. 1: A card-carrying Cardinal (who still roots for the Cal Bears).
Fig. 2. Studio 2 in building 550, the best class room at the d.school.
Fig. 3. A student creates the mind map of her homepage concept.
A little over ten years ago founder David Kelley and Executive Director George Kembel tapped me to help to them articulate and launch the Institute of Design at Stanford University. It was a true privilege and an honor. Over the years I’ve stayed involved, be it lightly, advising and guest lecturing for classes.
However, this last summer, I conspired with Caroline O’Connor, a former d.school fellow and current lecturer, to develop and teach new course curriculum.
The driving idea was to create a series of classes specifically geared to aspiring entrepreneurs, providing design training and frameworks that they could immediately apply to their own budding ventures. Dubbed “Founders Studio”, our mission is to offer hands-on experience (and tools) for some of the most pressing needs facing new businesses — everything from brand strategy to user experience design.
Authentic to the d.school’s ethos, we begin by developing a prototype to test our idea, and ran a three-evening class in the fall called, Guerrilla Branding for Entrepreneurs. Each night was a three-hour intensive workshop that featured a series of mini-lectures, followed by group and individual exercises for the students. Additionally, each class had special guest advisors, to help guide the students.
We started by introducing a concept stub — a germ of a product concept, specific enough for the class to quickly grasp the idea, but open enough for their own direction and interpretation (see the course ‘teaser’ below for the details).
Day one focused on research and need finding for the target audience. Day two focused on positioning and articulating the brand. And finally, day three focused on bringing the brand to life and expressing it on a prototype home page.
Yes, from product concept to testing homepage designs in three nights. That’s a lot. Perhaps too much, but the prototype absolutely served its function. It was clear the students got a lot out of the studio, and in the process, the whole teaching team learned a ton from the students. Learnings that will certainly be applied to develop future Founder Studio classes. So, look out for more in 2013.
After three consecutive years in Portland OR, the conference was held for the first time on the East coast, in Washington DC. This new location attracted a new crowd and it was great to both meet old friends and see many new faces. The attendance reached its highest number yet, with 420 Djangonauts, which demonstrates how popular Django has become throughout the continent.
I was fortunate to have a talk selected as part of the official program. The topic of my talk was on Vagrant, a free open-source tool facilitating the manipulation of virtualized environments, and how it may benefit the development of Django applications. This talk was aimed at Django developers of all levels who were interested in getting an overview of the great possibilities Vagrant offers to support teamwork and quality assurance.
The conference program was rich and diverse, covering a wide range of topics from the integration with database backends like PostgreSQL and Redis, to the building of real time applications, or the integration with mobile client frontends.
Automated testing, a topic that I'm quite passionate about, was well represented in particular with excellent talks by David Cramer and Erik Rose. It was also really interesting to see several talks about design, which is extremely relevant to the work that we do at Odopod — I recommend in particular viewing Julia Elman's talk, Is Django for Designers?. All the talks were video-recorded and published online so I encourage anyone interested in Django and Python to check them out!
Like at Pycon earlier this year, I also participated in sprints for two days. This was an opportunity for people to gather and make code or design contributions either to the Django project itself or to other open-source applications from the Django ecosystem. Personally I worked on the djangocore-box, a Vagrant virtual machine that I created to facilitate the execution of the Django core test suite. I also helped other people get started with their first contributions to the Django codebase and I reviewed and committed several patches.
DjangoCon was an absolute blast. It was really exciting and inspiring to meet so many incredibly smart people. Next year it will be in Chicago and I already can't wait be there again!
I was in Portland last week to speak at DMI’s Design/Management Thinking Conference — Balancing Extremes: Tensions in Design. The two-day event, at the stunning Gerding Theatre, offered focused presentations, discussions, and interactive sessions with leading business and design leaders.
The program kicked off with John Hoke and Angela Snow, Nike’s VP of Global Design and Global Director of Creative Operations, who spoke about how tension fuels Nike’s breakthrough design innovations. Their big, bold keynote was peppered with high-energy videos featuring cutting-edge products and triumphant sports moments.
I immediately followed with my own session, Little “I” Innovation, in which I proposed that committing to incremental improvements and pivoting on adjacent innovations are just as critical to business success as the big breakthrough ideas. It was a fitting juxtaposition. I was however compelled to employ the multi-talented Justin Timberlake to help me make my point.
I was fortunate to be able to attend the Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The conference, now in its second year, bills itself as the intersection of art, interaction and information.
While my role at Odopod is that of a developer, this is not a developer's conference. It's not about libraries, frameworks or programming languages. Here, data is king. I know that the term has many meanings and may be a little vague or scary to some people. That's what makes Eyeo such a unique event. This is a conference exploring how data of all kinds can inspire design and how design, in turn, can shape data and give it meaning. It can be personal data, it can be government data, it can be weather data, it can be random data - it can be anything! Founded on this unique premise, Eyeo has quickly become the event of the year for people who make their living by or are interested in data visualization. There were also talks that touched on topics including art, design, creative coding, and human-computer interaction.
Python is one of the main programming languages that we use at Odopod to build back-end systems for our web apps and websites. So I recently was really excited to attend Pycon, the annual Python conference. And I had a blast.
Photo credit: Orion Auld
This year’s Pycon was the largest yet. There were 2,500 attendees (twice as many as last year), 133 official sponsors and 127 talks divided in 5 parallel tracks. The fact that the conference took place in Santa Clara, right in the middle of the Silicon Valley, probably was a determining factor for the exceptionally large attendance, yet still these numbers undeniably demonstrate the increasing popularity of Python in the tech world.
It was impossible to physically attend all the talks that I was interested in. Fortunately all were video-recorded and published online so I could catch up later after the conference. In this post I’m going to present a short recap of the most notables things that I’ve learned and enjoyed.
Last week, David Bliss and I presented at the 2012 Planning-ness Conference.
For those that haven’t had a chance to attend, Planning-ness is described as an "un-conference" for creative thinkers who want to get their hands dirty. Each session is half teach and half workshop where participants put the presented ideas into action. This year a two-day, two-track event was hosted at the Annenberg Community Beach House in sunny Santa Monica.
In our session, we mapped the ever expanding Internet of Things landscape, broke down the “anatomy” of connected objects, and described how personal connected objects have the ability to encourage new behaviors, even increase human potential.
After which we gave the following assignment: Think of a personal object. Imagine how you might embed sensors, log interesting data and connect it to the Internet for analysis. Consider what insights this new information would bring to light and what behaviors, or ideas those could inspire.
All of the participants embraced the challenge with passion and enthusiasm — generating ideas that sparked imagination, laughter and smart thinking for where the Internet of Things may go.
We've got a busy next few months, packed with projects launching, a growing studio space, and some amazing new clients coming on board. In the midst of all that good stuff, we're also sending some Odopod thought leaders out into the world to participate in some talks and some panels in some amazing places. Come meet us!
April 30 - May 1, San Francisco
Join Albert Poon, Odopod's Director of Interaction Design in his talk, Welcome to the Post-PC Era.
About this talk: The age of desktop being the primary platform for digital experiences is over. Yes, there are hundreds of millions of traditional PCs with web browsers. They will not disappear. But even the most cursory look at the sales numbers should make it clear that the era of the big screen-keyboard-mouse digital experience is waning.
May 17 - 18, Santa Monica
Join Guthrie Dolin, Director of Brand and Strategy and David Bliss, Founder and Executive Technical Director in Connected Personal Objects: Getting Intimate with the Internet of Things.
About this talk: The Internet of Things is a vast and rapidly expanding landscape that encompasses complex infrastructural systems to the everyday objects found in our homes and even on our person. At its core is a network of uniquely identifiable “things” with the ability to sense their environment then communicate with one another and us. In our presentation we will breakdown the key attributes and technologies that define these connected “things” as well as demonstrate how some of the most progressive connected personal objects may be shaping our future.
May 22 - 25, Montreal
Join Odopod Founder and Executive Creative Director, Tim Barber in The Eureka! Moment, a discussion lead by Dr. Rex Jung, assistant research professor in the department of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico who is exploring the structural and biochemical correlates of intelligence, creativity and positive affect.
DMI Design/Management Thinking 24
June 19-20, Portland
Guthrie Dolin will be doing a talk on Little "i" Innovation: The Practice of Continual Incremental Improvement
About this talk: When it comes to design-led innovation, we love the big idea—those breakthrough inventions that signal a disruptive change. But these big ideas are rarely the result of a single moment of genius. Instead, it comes from the culmination of smaller ideas, developed over time, from the minds of many. The ideas that really stick in our fast-paced digital world are the ones that “live in beta”—embracing a culture of learning, adapting and improving every day. In Little “i” Innovation, we will explore how the process of continual, incremental improvement has been used to develop some of the world’s most innovative and dominant consumer brands.
If you're headed to any of these events, please be sure to join us or just stop by and say hello. We'd love to meet you!
Fig 2: The new G-Shock with Bluetooth.
Fig 3: The Chambers, by Rza.
Fig 4: Polaroid’s Android camera.
Fig 5: Justin Bieber-bot with Tosy’s mRobo.
I went looking for the future in Las Vegas. From the moment I walked into the first hall of the Consumer Electronics Show I was adrift in a sea of 3D TVs, bedazzled iPhone cases, iPad wannabes and a myriad of lifestyle headphones. “Beats” by Dre have been popular for some time, but have you heard about “Street” by 50? Or, “Soul” by Ludacris? Perhaps you’ve heard of “Chambers” by Rza? Then there was the candy colored assortment from iWave, iLuv and Nixon. One thing is clear — lifestyle headphones are more than a fleeting fad.
We Like to Watch
By sheer quantity, you’d probably surmise that the future is all about TV. Ultra-thin and ultra-big — one was 84 inches! 3D in every flavor — including the new kind with no glasses required. (Speaking of glasses, I saw a TV that up to four people could all simultaneously watch different programs by wearing special glasses with built-in earbuds. I didn’t try it, but I can tell you that without the glasses it could possibly cause seizures).
The 4K and 8K TVs that offer four to eight times the pixel resolution were certainly impressive. Sadly, it may only be an alternate future in which the broadcast industry supports these formats.
For me, TVs that boasted facial recognition and took voice commands showed the most promise. I’m ready to ditch my many remotes and own a TV that knows what volume I like it set at and can pull up my favorite show, based on a verbal description.
“Hey TV, play that episode of 30 Rock when Jack talks to his TV.”
Hack Days at Odopod is an incredible time of year. For 48 hours, we shut down the office, turn inward and focus on our own ideas. It’s a chance for us to build the kind of things that our clients don't ask for every day and just invent.
It starts off with an open call for ideas. Eight are picked and small teams are formed to produce the projects over two days. Everybody takes part - designers, developers, producers and strategists - all racing toward the same intense deadline, with a heightened sense of focus, creative energy and collaboration.
The culmination of Hack Days is a series of prototypes and proofs-of-concept.
Here are the results...
We're still in San Francisco, still under the same leadership, still doing great work (here are some case studies). But now we're a lot larger. We've joined a host of Nurun offices around the globe, all part of Publicis Worldwide.
Our focus remains on helping clients succeed in a connected world with products and services that transform the consumer experience.
We continue to work with forward-thinking, longstanding clients including Tesla, Google, Sony and Audemars Piguet. More recently, we've established new relationships with Dolby, the San Francisco 49ers, GoPro, and Blu Homes.
We welcome the opportunity to work with you too.
Tim, Dave, & JT
For new business, contact Stacy Stevenson
For general inquiries, contact us at
For more about Nurun, visit