I am always looking for ways to get people to think about the psychology behind media, mediated communication, and technology. SxSW (South By Southwest or ‘South By’ if you’re on a first name basis) is a music, film, and interactive media conferences held annually in Austin, Texas and it is a perfect place to do that. I like to think of myself as an ambassador for media psychology because at SxSW Interactive, I get to talk and hang out with the people I don’t normally see, who are doing a lot of the inventing, communicating, and producing. Aside from getting some psychology into the greater global consciousness and I always learn a humbling amount about technology and emerging media development and use.
SxSW would be more accurately called a celebration than a conference. It has grown exponentially because it brings together a fascinatingly diverse group in all senses of the word–artists, thinkers, and doers from across industries around the globe. The energy from that diversity of talent, backgrounds, and worldviews is tremendous. And as if that wasn’t enough to make it fun, there is also an avalanche of exciting digital gear between the tech-intense audience and the displays at the Sponsor booths as well as awesome BBQ and margaritas and very cool graphics on the t-shirts.
In 2012, SxSW runs from Friday, March 9 through Sunday, March 18; nine-days that encompass three events (or one really large one, depending upon your interests) SXSW Interactive Festival, SXSW Film Conference and Festival and SXSW Music and Media Conference. It dates back to 1987 with a focus was on showcasing new music and films, but the explosion of social media, mobile devices, and gaming has caused the Interactive section to grow at warp speed. In 2011, there were an estimated 20,000 attendees in Interactive alone. The sessions run during the day and then the parties take over. It is, on average, a rather young crowd as you might imagine. Last year, I participated on a panel called “Can the Internet Make You Happy?” thanks to Anastasia Goodstein. It was a lot of fun.
True to the social media environment, SxSW use crowd-sourcing and social media to solicit and select their panels. Thirty percent of the decision of who gets to speak is made by the public through a voting mechanism called the ‘panel picker.’
This gets me to my point. My submission in the panel picker for the Interactive Festival is called “Brains, Games & the Consequences of Design.” And, in a shameless plug, I need votes.
I plan to discuss the “how” of good user experience from a psychological point of view. This includes stuff like how design translates into what users actually experience and how people can make sure that what they design is what the audience really wants. My goal is to take the audience on a journey, breaking down the psychology of user experience. We will follow information as it goes in through the senses, fires up the neurons in the brain, gets converted from electrical sparks to meaning, and is translated into emotion, experience and behavior. The science of neurocognition and positive psychology unlock the mysteries of attention, engagement, image, story, flow, meaning and pleasure. We will break this down further into the primary drivers of effective, more successful, and more rewarding and pleasurable interactive media on any device. The takeaway is an increased understanding of how to improve the effectiveness of your interface, apps, games, marketing and advocacy campaigns, educational initiatives, or entertainment projects. Not to mention, the ability to transform lives and society through interactive media.
Here are the driving questions:
- What turns interactive media into an engaging or ‘flow’ experience?
- How does cognitive processing influence design and messages?
- Why are brains social?
- Why are stories and images powerful information delivery systems?
- How does technology create intrinsic motivation?
So, help me further the field awareness of the field of psychology and cast a vote (a thumbs up, really) for my presentation!
To vote, go to http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ and register (it’s free and a voting control mechanism.) Then go to “Brains, Games & the Consequences of Design” at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/12672 and remember, it’s a thumbs up!