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The big five design technologies

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

At this morning’s Autodesk University General Session/Welcome Address Keynote event, one of the first things I heard an attendee say: “I’m one of thousands of architects in San Francisco looking for a job.”

This was followed by Autodesk evangelist Lynn Allen announcing an Elvis clone singing an Elvis song with Autodesk-centric lyrics about a disclaimer that new products discussed are not intended as promises of products to come. No photo-taking was allowed at this event, which was rather unusual.

Then CEO Carl Bass said that he was encouraged by “signs that the economy is getting better.”

He added that in talking to customers around world they say their primary challenge is in trying to stay competitive. Because of the tough economy and more complex projects, customers need to work more efficiently.

Using a timeline, Bass showed how successful technologies move from impossible to impractical, then possible, then to expected and finally to required in a continuum. He pointed out that flying was considered impossible except by those like Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s required in today’s society. Timing of the technology is a critical factor, if it’s too early, it won’t be embraced, people aren’t ready for it; if it’s too late, it misses the boat. He gave the example of the Newton PDA which was ahead of its time, while now it’s almost required that everyone have a mobile phone with a lot of features. In this continuum there is a sweet spot.

Five design capabilities or technologies are currently moving from impractical into the sweet spot, said Bass:

Exploration, analysis, storytelling, collaboration, and access.

The technological development accelerating these technologies is cloud computing – or web based computing, which is “becoming as cheap and reliable as electricity, so we can take greater advantage of computing power,” said Bass. It is a very big platform shift, and he said a shift like this comes along every ten to 20 years – that changes the way we use computers and do design and engineering work.

Gearing up for AU

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Autodesk University traditionally falls during the week following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, as it does so this year. It also comes right after Autodesk’s third quarter fiscal financial announcement:

This year’s AU will be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, a change of venue from previous years at the Venetian. Apart from the keynote presentations, Mainstage, exhibits and technical sessions, what looks interesting on the agenda:

Unconference sessions, where session content is created and driven by participants.  What is needed: a room, a projector, and a microphone, and then participants and the session leader do the rest. This year you can pre-register for unconference sessions.View all unconference sessions.

The Design Slam is back for its second year, following the format of Cut&Paste Slam of the previous years. The fast-paced format tests skill, speed, and stage presence, while the audience witnesses the professional designers and Autodesk executives at work on large-scale projected screens, creating original work in rounds of 20 minutes.

Pecha Kucha Night on Wednesday holds the expectation that participants share their ideas in a challenging format: they display 20 images, each for 20 seconds. In those six minutes and 40 seconds, presenters are expected to make a personal connection with their audience. This event has generated interesting results that have shown up in Mainstage presentations in later years.

See you there.

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