Highlights from MESH13

A big thank you to everyone who came by our table to say hello. Hopefully you had a chance to speak with Sarah English or Shannah Segal about the user experience challenges you’re faced with, or usability of your website or app. If you didn’t, feel free to pose questions to our team via TwitterLinked-In or Facebook. Or you could give us an old-fashioned phone call – so retro, we know.

We’re a long time sponsor of MESH because it attracts an interesting crowd and thought-provoking speakers. This year was no different!

Ryan Carson of Treehouse got things off to an exhilarating start. To our minds, his statements around university education struck a chord (and maybe a few nerves) in examining the traditional four year university degree. Key points from his talk were:

  • The university system is a racket that puts students in 100K of debt and doesn’t lead them to a job
  • Forcing kids into $100K of debt is immoral
  • The amount of student debt in the US exceeds the amount of credit card debt before the credit meltdown
  • It’s a 4 year “education vacation” – where students are taking a break from actually acquiring the skills they need for employment
  • Enter Treehouse – an organization that wants to improve tech education at low cost and as a result eliminate universities from technical education entirely – at the wallet-friendly cost of around $300

Provocative declarations when contemplating the future of education! Around the UM water cooler we wondered how Ryan’s model would address the broader value of a liberal arts degree. Can critical thinking, empathy, interpretation and navigating the social demands of the workplace be delivered by a Treehouse-style learning platform? These are factors we as designers and researchers consider essential – especially in our increasingly technology-focused world of work.

Another session we attended was Josh Benton on the Future of Journalism.  Much of the discussion centered on the crucial need for newspapers to find alternative revenue streams, and the increasing introduction of paywalls. Our main take-away was that paywalls have not yet proved effective for regional newspapers. Indeed, their biggest success may be in preventing current print subscribers from dropping their subscriptions because it eliminates the free web alternative. But this begs the question of if simply retaining current print subscribers is a sufficient outcome of implementing a paywall.

There were many other great sessions that you can read about in the MESH newsroom.

Hats off to the planners, sponsors and everyone who contributed to making MESH13 a stellar event!