At the beginning of May, I was able to attend AIGA DC’s Dot Gov Design Conference at the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. I didn’t really know what to expect, but since my day job at an advocacy tech company is tangentially related, I figured there could be some transferable insights.
The day started out with an opening keynote by Hana Schank of We Are Commons on “getting the work done.” I really enjoyed some of her key points, especially this one:
“No one has it figured out.”
This is something I think all designers and creatives need to remind themselves of—there’s always someone who seems to have everything figured out, but in reality, we’re all learning as we go.
Hana also said technology is the easy part—the hard part is everything else, especially people and process. This theme came about later in the day as well.
Rica Rosario’s session on “Quiet Leadership” had some great tactical tips on how to be an introvert in an extroverted world, and talked about how introverts have a longer process because we have a longer neural pathway, which was something I hadn’t thought about before.
I wasn’t originally planning on attending Elizabeth Hira’s session on Legislative Policy, but it turned out to be perfectly aligned with my day to day work, especially when she highlighted the importance of advocacy work.
Elizabeth had some great tactical tips for those in advocacy who are trying to create change.
A few key insights that work for design, in addition to advocacy:
- Do your homework—back up your stance with validators
- There’s power in numbers
- Timing is important when advocating for change
The day concluded with a talk titled “Under the Guise of Technology,” presented by Kavi Harshawat from USDS/New America, which discussed instances where technology can be a help or a burden.
The biggest takeaway was that there are always two sides to the technology coin, and even technology has its limits.