At SXSW 2014.

Evan Carroll and I have teamed up to present at SXSW this year. We're facilitating a core conversation on Sunday, March 9 at 12:30 at the Omni.

Topic summary

Who gives a f*ck about techies? We don’t. 

We prefer to consider those at the fringes of life. Yes, we’re talking about incapacitation and death. It’s not fun. It’s not sexy. And it certainly won’t inspire the next wave of thoughtful design. Or will it?

Every stage of life, planned or unplanned, has its unique set of challenges, yet our focus is on the average, the repeatable and the “target audience.” What would happen if we considered audiences at the fringes of life, with real problems that are typically ignored?

Creativity flourishes when we dismiss the status quo and attack a problem with a different set of challenges. How can technology help us prepare for death? How can it help the disabled live more normal lives? And how can it help us retain our identities, even when we can’t express them anymore?

Join us to learn how designing for the fringe gives us a different perspective to unlock our creative potential. As you know, we’ll all join the fringe sooner or later.

For the SXSW panel picker, we put together a video that summarizes our interests. 

Why are we interested in this topic?

That's a complicated question. Our work and our family commitments sparked our initial interest. We remain interested for those reasons, but also because it's really cool to think about how the technology is evolving how we do things. 

Evan is, at heart, a user experience designer. He's also a problem-solver. In 2007 he became fascinated with what happens to all of our digital assets after we expire. He co-authored a book, Your Digital Afterlife, with John Romano about the topic. He's motivated to help others prepare for their end-of-life so that they can enjoy the present. 

I am, at heart, a communicator. I'm also a problem-solver. The six months leading up to 2012 were transformational: I got married, moved to another state, started working remotely, lost my father and became the primary caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's. I started writing about my experience and looking for ways to help others. 

These experiences inspired Evan and me to think about those who are not the traditional target audience. We believe designing solutions for those who live at life's fringe, those who are incapacitated, disabled and dying, will help us arrive at unique solutions. We'll share more of these with you over the next few weeks.

I'm not going to SXSW, how can I learn more?

Don't worry, we'll be posting a lot about the panel and our discussion. Keep an eye on this site and The Digital Beyond for more. During the event, you can keep track of the conversation using the hashtag #fringe.