Hey Big Fish is our gift to the SXSW community.It helps you engage in a more meaningful way during and after the event. It creates a record of  SXSW 2013 that represents what happened and what the community valued.

The Story

Our team came together with the goal of designing a product to launch as SXSW. The idea was to create a little gift for our peers and bring some attention to the great work our organizations are doing.

The first step was to find a technology partner and fellow Portland, Or company Little Bird was an obvious choice.  Their product quickly became the spark of inspiration we needed - We could use Little Bird’s technology to add a layer of smarts to whatever we come up with.


After reading these articles A Simple Suggestion to Help Phase Out All-Male Panels at Tech Conferences and  The Panel Pledge: A Follow-Up, I thought I would jot down some of my observations on the topic. The articles (and the robust comment threads) address the role of conference organizers and participants, I think there are some other contributors to this sad sad state of affairs.


La la love this concise case study from Bassett & Partners. In six sentences they make one of the most compelling  illustrative arguments for doing design research I have ever read. I'm going to use this as an educational tool in the future.  

"We took the design team down to LA on a market immersion trip, hitting high schools, colleges, street courts and even a Midnight Madness Tournament in South Central where Paul Pierce randomly showed up

Lumber Room 3 panels

Curtain from Lumber Room


I enjoyed reading Barry Johnson's detailed account of The Felt Hat's presentation at last weeks Designspeaks. He, unlike me, took some great notes and I think his perspective on the lessons, themes and high points of the night are spot on. This  particular statement resonated with me "...when we are trying to generate creative outcomes, we have to start messing around with the process" Although I might change "creative outcomes" to "quality outcomes" or "successful outcomes" fueled by creative intention and energy, h nails it that the grand take away from the evening was that great stuff is accomplished when we mess around with the process and are open to where the process can take us.

The Felt Hat is obviously living this particular creative dream and I was inspired to hear them talk so passionately and proudly of the work they have been  part of.  Damn that water bill was sexy and I don't think that could have happened if they set out to make a sexy water bill.

So like I said I didn't take a bunch of notes that night instead I choose to listen and absorb, but I did jot down one thing.

"conceptual thread"

I don't remember exactly who said it or in what context but it has stuck with me.  So I thought I'd tell you what it means to me after listening to the presentation. (Dear Felt Hat folks forgive me if I get it wrong, correct me for sure.)


The Conceptual Thread

When we try to accomplish something, intentional or not, we participate in a process.

If we acknowledge the positive effect of letting the needs of the project direct or define this process how do we insure that the process continually adds value and that the eventual outcome rises above the limitations of our minds?

Custom Process + Creative Thinker does not necessarily equal Brilliant Design.

There is a something else need to bring integrity, focus and heart to the work.

The process can fail or change, the designer can get lost or  frustrated, but paying continuous attention to maintaining the conceptual thread is paramount in achieving great design.

Have  the courage to follow it wherever it leads you. Find a way to realize what manifests.


Well maybe that's a bit heady and silly but I was inspired to think about this stuff. Mission accomplished Designspeaks.

Great night overall. I'm so happy to be included in the group of brilliant people organizing Designspeaks. I hope whether  you made it out this time or not you will follow us on Twitter and keep up to date with the exciting stuff on the horizon and join the conversation about design.

I'll leave you with a great tweet quote from that night sent by @cre8tivegirl "In order to start with nothing you have to have hope to be begin"


-photo credit


You may know that my teammates and I are currently smack in the middle of creating a movement. You may even be here because of that. Ok, it's not a movement yet. It's a website. A website that currently consists of 2 pages and a set of videos, but this is the seed of a movement and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how I got here, why I'm creating such a thing, and my hopes for the coming year.

This is a story about Storytelling. Before you groan, let me first say that I understand that "Storytelling" may well be the current "Design Thinking", an overused phrase with the best intention but so misused and overused it often looses its value. I can buy that, but I think Storytelling is different.

Because of its far reaching resonance, Storytelling has stronger legs. It is bigger than the fad.  The concept and process of storytelling is claimed and utilized by everyone, making it an undeniable human obsession. Historians, artists, marketers, teachers, illustrators, engineers, scientists, children. You can go on and on.  All of these people approach their work and life with the intention of creating and telling stories.

The meaning of life may actually be:

We are all trying to craft the best story we can and find ways to tell it.

Ha! I kinda like that.

Hey, have you ever reached a moment where you feel everything up to now was the first chapter setting up the plot for the rest of your story and the action is just about to start? This happens to me over and over again. It's a completely satisfying feeling and here I am again.

The set up so far has been, a girl from a simple background, a little poverty, a little family strife but a lot of learning, nature, music, laughing, health food & encouragement has conducted her life as an ongoing experiment. Try this try that. Transform this into that. Create artifacts. Start over. Start again.

Now it seems many of the themes, ideas and topics that have emerged over my years of experimentation have all gotten together to go on an ultimate road trip. We've got music, experience design, writing, research, connecting people, creating language, art, technology, historical records, personal archives, gift giving and storytelling. I've loaded them all up in the car.

Working on this project is part of my story and the project itself is all about telling stories. I'm doing this because I want to tell stories and create a place for everyone to tell their own.

Essentially we are designing a method for stories to be documented and discovered. The context for these stories is MUSIC and its role in the human narrative.  All of these stories have been told before, not just to ourselves. They are created everyday but rarely captured. Our project will attempt to utilize all of the wonderful modern methods we have, to gather and distribute these stories for the greater good (and because it's just fun).

I am most excited and driven by a few key pieces of the project.

1. The creation of a layer of data that will expose the connective fibers between music and the human experience.

2. Giving the gift of this information to the musicians who create the music, and people who could benefit from discovering the soundtrack to others' experiences.

3. Designing an online space that feels great to be in.

4. Taking it to the streets.

I'll stop here, although I could go on and on. In the coming months I'm sure this list will grow in ways I can't imagine now and hope that you will help me contribute to it. You love a great road trip right?

Preregister now to be part of the early group of folks who will help us craft the story of Music Impacts.

And let me know what you think. Have any great ideas on this topic?

More to come,



I am having a positive reaction to this site

for the following reasons....

100 to watch home


The bookmark metaphor

The color coded medium identifiers (colored dots, key in the top left)

Getting a nice preview of the work

Navigating with arrow keys

It mimics the experience of walking through a gallery.

It utilizes the wide screen (i have one so I like it)

I'm so so about the audio announcing each artist. As a an English speaker I enjoy hearing how to pronounce the names.  It is a bit futuristic and creepy though.

(I found the site via SiteInspire)

100 to watch inside 1

100 to watch inside

From the Basement _ PJ Harvey

Anyone else tired of consuming their media, art and news in a cluttered environment?  I am. If you know me you've probably heard me say many times, that I just can't use online tools, sites or resources that aren't pleasing to my design and to a certain extent aesthetic sensibilities, although a do appreciate anything well designed even if it isn't really my taste.


Besides the bad ass content, including, photos, well shot HD video and great sound.  The space in which the videos live is simple and let's you do what you came to do. Rock out, tear up, get inspired, enjoy the music. I even like how a featured video starts when you land on the site. Never thought I'd say that but it envelopes you right away and I guess it just feels good.

If you haven't checked out the site....have fun....

From the basement_ The Kills

The Kills

Ten out of Tenn

This is such a beautiful and effective site. I love the the subtlety of the navigation and social media links.

The colors are excellent. My eyes moves around easily finding everything I would expect to find.

ten out of tenn footer

and who could deny the beauty and brillance of this?  check out the site to experience the roll over interaction.


This tour will be in Portland on Sunday. Maybe I'll see you there.