Retrospective: Producing a pre-recorded conference video
The goal of this talk was to convey some of the elegance of the abstract idea of pattern languages, and hint at the structure and depth encoded into the canonical A Pattern Language book. I want us to look at how we might use this thinking in our own work, and will show an example of doing so with a user research pattern language.
First, I try to distinguish three major concepts:
The Research Skills Framework is a pattern language for user research. Its contextual hierarchy is aligned to a 6-stage model of a user research project.
There is a wide range of patterning in this list of pattern languages created by Takashi Iba, Iba Lab, and CreativeShift Lab., Inc.
See the demo video below for one idea of how we could sequence a project language.
Next, I discuss that how a pattern language works in architecture can be translated to our own field.
Numerous pattern languages already exist for a variety of contexts: organizational change, learning, presentations, more.
Iba characterizes these as "Pattern Language 3.0," patterns that target human action. With patterns rooted in a context of human action, we can use them in our work by "building" out our projects from a language.
Sidebar: I am personally interested in exploring patterns as a structure for participatory organizational governance. I need to do more research on The Oregon Project, where the University of Oregon used a community-driven pattern language to guide campus planning for decades.
Finally, I touch on an example of how we might do this, using patterns in the Research Skills Framework to sequence a project pattern language for a user research project.
Project Pattern Language - Demo
Imagine we're taking on an experience mapping project for a large European railway. This is the case study we quickly reviewed in the talk.
Retrospective: Producing a pre-recorded conference talk
Pre-recording a talk was difficult. Physical to digital is a far easier transition than live to pre-recorded. I did not expect the amount of energy that normally comes from having an audience—in any venue of delivery—and how difficult it would be to stare at a camera, alone, in an empty room.
From a process perspective, I took a risk in attempting to produce a real "video talk," instead of developing a standard slide deck and recording myself presenting the slides. Working in a new medium upset a number of standard ways of working I'd become comfortable with—the process was meandering and uncertain, not simple, smooth, and uncomplicated. In this aspect of the work, creating a compelling video presentation, I found the great gap between what I hoped to achieve, and what I was able to produce. That said, a sensitivity to that gap lights the direction forward, and I know there's a huge new realm of possibility opening before me.
Areas for improvement:
Getting back to a 'script'. Between V1 and production V2, the story arc fragmented in my mind. I'd taken down the large sticky wall that held the talk's structure, and didn't rebuild it after heavy revisions on V1 feedback. The talk's clarity of message suffered for that.
Energy in video. I know, now, the challenge of bringing energy to a recording. I need to find a way to make delivery more engaging, more compelling.
Cutting and overlaying graphics: it's not clear to me how and when to best employ the graphics in a video when there's not an ongoing slide show. What is the right balance between face-time and conceptual sketches?
Video quality! The camera loses focus, and I get blurry. It looks bad and unprofessional. I need to have a better setup and tighter quality control on this area of the work.
Things to continue:
Creating a follow-up 'companion page.' This helped me clarify my thoughts and my message. Next time I will build it before I record the talk, and I can make both of them work even better together.
Working with video, in general. I learned the basics of DaVinci Resolve for this talk—that was a bit challenging and entirely fun. I will need to see if this is the best tool for a larger body of video work going forward.
Creating custom models to illustrate core concepts. These ended up becoming backbone centers of the talk structure. In this regard, I worked similar to the "normal presentation" process.
Developing custom 'pattern' graphics. This has been an interesting and rewarding quarantine-times artistic pursuit. It's just fun to make graphical tile illustrations of geometric complexity. And there's an avenue for the company rebrand in there, somewhere.
The act of creating the talk—forcing myself to articulate approachable concepts, to select and discuss them in order—pushed my understanding, as attempting to teach always will. These last 3-4 weeks have consolidated into a richer understanding of 3-4 years of pattern study. It's a rewarding area of thinking, and there's so far yet to go.