Looking over the edge of the plate

Back in 2013, Jeremy Keith gave a talk at Beyond Tellerrand, a conference about web design, development and creativity. He spoke about having a look over the edge of the plate as he got inspired by the English translation of the German expression Tellerrand. I really like Jeremy’s way of drawing the lines between topics and ideas, and connecting the dots to inspire others. It was also a pleasure to meet him in June 2019 in Brighton as part of the 2019 excursion of the master’s degree program Content Strategy at FH JOANNEUM I participate in.

In the following paragraphs, I give a short summary of the highlights I could get from Jeremy’s talk and how this relates to my work as a designer in the field of experience design. This post is part of a task in the course Accessibility & Multiscreen Design by Eric Eggert.

There’s always something new to learn

When speaking about the web, it is obvious that web developers and web designers have a lot on their plates. Jeremy mentions that the entry to get something online has always been quite low and we should keep it that way. If we keep the entry nice and low, the web is powerful and adds value to the lives of a lot of people. He draws the line to Tim Burners-Lee’s statement “The web is for everyone” — I stumbled upon this video snippet of the London Olympics 2012 as a reference:

Tim Berners-Lee at the London Olympics 2012 opening ceremony.

In my everyday work as an experience designer, I try to improve the lives of others with small but effective steps — having technology in mind, but the problems or challenges of people in focus, without any barriers.

Jeremy mentions the former web hosting provider GeoCities, which was acquired by Yahoo! in 1999 and shut down in 2019, being followed by the desctruction of knowledge and information. Many users lost what they have been working on and with for several years. This statement by Erin Kissane brings it to the point:

“The other half of ‘making’ is ‘taking care of’. We’ve gotten pretty good at making internet. Time to get better at caring for what we make.” — Erin Kissane

Digital preseveration is key to make and keep knowledge accessible for everyone. Many dreams and ideas can and should be kept and inspire others to work with.

The startup world and making the internet better

Jeremy draws the line to the attitude many people have in terms of the startup world, especially when it come to the use and storage of (personal) data. It seems that startups are rather guided by money and not making the internet better. This collection of “proud” news updated by small businesses which were acquired by Twitter, Facebook and other platforms might show the ultimate goal of startups: ourincrediblejourney.tumblr.com.

Josh Clark highlights the problem of the fracture that occurs when ideas in a digital era are only considers in a short time frame:

“You can’t be a futurist without also being a historian. Our industry has an unusual lack of knowledge about ideas of just a few years ago.” — Josh Clark

This statement reminds me of one of my principles I try to follow in my professional life: We need time to create amazing things. Great ideas may pop up in a blink of an eye, intelligent solutions grow and thrive over time.

Don’t just look at what’s on the plate

Connected thinking and empathy for others make potentials visible and accessible. Everybody has an opinion about specific things, so the web is a place where different perspectives and thoughts can grow, inspire others to make things or to drop a thought into the world that might have an impact. I really like the quote by John Allsopp that Jeremy showed in his talk:

“The web is about divergence and plurality. All other platforms are about convergence and insularity. Not judging, just saying.“ — John Allsopp

Having an open mind and thinking in a larger scale and in a long term is essential to use the web as it should be: a collaborative, inspiring environment for people who love to make things happen and contribute to the larger whole.

Watch and get inspired

There are many examples Jeremy mentions in his talk and I recommend to take the time to watch it and get inspired by the insights he gives. Here is the recording of Jeremy Keith’s talk at Beyond Tellerrand — enjoy!

Jeremy Keith at Beyond Tellerrand 2013

Experience designer, aspiring content strategist, humanist, world citizen, traveller, mountain hiker, Cuba Libre aficionado, fairness advocate. www.ejochum

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