Design the Future
January 19–20, 2016: Training
January 20–22, 2016: Conference
San Francisco, CA

Dialogues, not dialogs

Alexis Lloyd (The New York Times R&D Lab)
1:15pm Thursday, 01/21/2016
Design for a greater good
Location: Southside Theater
Average rating: ****.
(4.71, 17 ratings)

Prerequisite knowledge

While no specific skills are required, this talk is most useful for designers, developers, product managers, and others who are involved in the creation of new products, apps, and systems.


As computational systems play an ever more pervasive role in our lives, the design of those systems becomes increasingly important in terms of our ability to have satisfying and expressive experiences. The New York Times R&D Lab has been exploring new paradigms for designing systems that can collaborate better with people, becoming conversational and leaving room for human interpretation. Alexis Lloyd offers examples that examine how such systems might evolve and lays out key principles for designing collaborative experiences between people and systems.

Alexis first discusses how interaction design encodes assumptions about users and relationships. The predominant model of our relationships with automated systems has stayed remarkably monolithic and unchanged for many decades, and it tends to mechanize our interactions and constrain our agency. Alexis explains why designers need to form new models for how people and systems relate to one another.

Alexis also shows several projects from the New York Times R&D Lab that explore collaborative, conversational interactions with automated systems. These projects include new programming languages for listening to data in real time, collaborative interfaces for augmenting the journalistic process, and speculative, interactive furniture that probes our relationship to objects that can listen and record.

Alexis concludes with a set of design principles that can help attendees design humble systems rather than smart systems—ones that can empower the people they serve, allowing for fluidity and virtuosity in everyday interactions. For the future to be a desirable one, we need to design interactions that allow for eloquence—where we can engage in complex ways and the systems around us can respond with equal nuance.

Photo of Alexis Lloyd

Alexis Lloyd

The New York Times R&D Lab

Alexis Lloyd is the creative director of the New York Times R&D Lab, where she investigates technology trends and prototypes future concepts for content delivery. Her work is focused on creating immersive and exploratory experiences through innovative physical-to-digital interactions, data visualization, and screen-based interfaces.

In addition to her work at the New York Times, Alexis has designed award-winning projects for clients such as FOX, Columbia University, American Express, the New York Historical Society, PBS, and others. Her media art and design work has been shown internationally in such venues as the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, SIGGRAPH, and the Chelsea Art Museum. Alexis holds an MFA in design and technology from the New School’s Parsons School of Design.