Donte @ HIVE by radamant

As biggest sponsor of this past weekend's HIVE Conference, Substantial was tasked with giving the opening remarks as well as the welcome letter. We're posting Donte's notes for both for posterity. We'll be posting summaries of the other talks in the coming days as well.

HIVE Opening Remarks - June 17, 2014

Good morning everyone and welcome to HIVE 2014. I won't keep you for long but wanted to take a few moments to share some thoughts on what the next couple of days means. You'll be seeing plenty of slides over the next few days so I've opted to just show a pair of corgis as my accompaniment.

I'm Donte Parks, of digital development & design studio Substantial, headquartered up on Capitol Hill. In the HIVE welcome letter I've already shared some thoughts on how important I think this event is and I want to take a few minutes to expand on those ideas.

It was almost exactly a year ago when Steven approached myself and Jeremy (Substantial's president) about sponsoring a resurrected HIVE. We get asked to sponsor plenty of things so that's usually only so exciting but this one was different than most.

Combining tech and design in a conference hits right at Substantial's heart. We've always viewed development and design as being attached at the hip, with true brilliance only being achieved when both arenas are adequately addressed. By reframing the creative process to include the two (and other skill sets as well) and removing the traditional interdisciplinary walls, we believed that it would unlock new potential for teams, clients, and products.

As Steven described HIVE, it felt incredibly familiar, and we instantly offered Steven all the support we could. Not because we wanted our name on a poster, or to give this opening, but because we were delighted there would be a forum for discussing the things we think about every day with other folks thinking about the same topics. We're incredibly excited to be in a venue full of peers and we hope you are too.

As I mentioned in the welcome letter, one of the most exciting parts of tech is the sheer speed of change. Over the last year we've had no shortage of developments:

  • New iPhone/iPads & iOS going flat

  • Nest fire alarms arriving to great fanfare

  • Nest fire alarms getting recalled because they might not actually save you in a fire - oops!

  • Heartbleed and the tech world's rally toward resolution

  • Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin et. al.)

  • Edward Snowden's leaked documents

  • New generation of gaming consoles

  • Amazon Fire phone just this week

The fun never stops, and with wearables, Google glass, ephemeral messaging, antisocial networking, and countless other things, there's plenty to keep us busy.

That said, for all the excitement those things create, as an industry we have a lot of room for improvement and things to consider. New services may only exacerbate the class divide (What good is Uber for someone with no smartphone or credit card?). For all of things we create, are we ensuring that they can be used by the widest audience? What about the blind, the deaf, those lacking mobility (that one's become near and dear to me over the last few months)? And what do we do about the lack of diversity in our ranks; Yahoo joined Google in releasing their diversity numbers and as you may have read, it leaves much to be desired. That isn't to lay that problem at the feet of large corporations, it's one we should all be considering.

My point here isn't to be a downer to start things off. Quite the opposite. There are issues big and small that should be addressed in our work, from how we can improve our personal workflow, streamline our collaboration with coworkers, clients and partners, extending our products to a wider version of everyone, and understanding the context in which our work exists.

I'm not saying we should delude ourselves into thinking we're going to change the world simply by being at this conference. This isn't TED. That said, our work has the ability to inspire, educate, empower, entertain, and generally improve lives, which gives a bigger context for everything we do.

Us being here will hopefully help us to work better, build better products and experiences, and help to consider the problems we solve in new ways.

Whether it's design lessons from the underworld, a workshop on intercultural communication, a primer on accessibility, or one of the many discussions on team process and tools, we should all leave here with new knowledge to share with those that aren't here. And that's exciting. Based on the opening party last night I know there are plenty of new personal connections being made as well. Also exciting.

So no, we may not leave here having changed the world, but we'll have changed ourselves a bit and will take those lessons to the world at large. So that's a start.

I'll be manning the Substantial table in the lobby if you'd like to chat. If you're into soccer we'll have the world cup streaming as well. Oh, and like many of the companies represented among the speakers, we're hiring.

Thanks for your time, thank you for being here, and welcome to Hive 2014!

HIVE Welcome Letter - June 16, 2014

One of the most exciting parts of technology is the pace of change. Hardware, software, design patterns, development platforms, everything is in flux, in a constant charge toward an unreachable ideal. Each of us plays a role in this process, as we’re the ones pushing boundaries, and questioning how we can make our processes, experiences, and products better and more elegant. And that desire for better isn’t limited to just designers or developers, it belongs to all of us as creators.

That’s what makes HIVE so exciting. There are plenty of conferences that cater to either development, design, or other disciplines, but at Substantial we believe that the real magic comes when those worlds collide. HIVE gives us all a rare opportunity to ponder, deconstruct, teach, and learn how we can bring that spark to life, and that’s why we’re so excited for the next few days.

Each of us comes to HIVE with a particular worldview, process, or approach to doing the work we do. And none of them are perfect. We’re hoping that over the next few days we can learn from one another and leave the conference with new ideas, new techniques, and maybe some new friends.

Thanks to all of you for being part of this community and welcome to HIVE 2014!

Donte Parks, Substantial

ps. Don’t forget about the kickoff party on Thursday at Sole Repair! See you there!

Main image from radamant