Refresh Philly: September 2009 Recap

gridphilly September’s Refresh was all about the grid, Grid Philly that is.  The Sept. meet was a working session where Grid Philly, a locally based/focused magazine on sustainability turned to the members of Refresh to guide them in all things web.  GRID’s current web offering is basically a flip book of past issues.  I understand their reasons for going with this but it does little to invite people to read/share/discover the magazine’s offerings.  This flip books are simple to export to and offer users a view of the printed version’s design but the benefits end there.  But I digress.  Overall, it seemed like an eye opener for the GRID team and there was plenty of suggestions that were valid options for those attending.  These “working session” styled meetings are a great way to meet others in the community and maybe learn a thing or two.

Just a heads up, next months Refresh will be their social meeting (think happy hour).

Events Links

Refresh Philly: June Wrap-up

Refresh Philly: June

The big problem with this months Refresh Philly was that I couldn’t be in 3 places at once.  That’s because rather then the usual meet on 45 for great views and two presenters, Refresh met in CIM City and broke up in to three groups.

The main act was Jonny Goldstein, a giant white board and a bunch of folks interested in learning visual note taking and how to better get their ideas out of their heads and onto paper (via drawing).  I didn’t catch much of this one though it was high on my list, from what I did see, one of the things to keep in mind is to keep it simple…as in simple shapes (squares, circles, etc.).  Don’t get caught up in drawing the right shape for say a cat, go simple and move on.  Add the polish later (FYI, that was me paraphrasing right there).  Every time I saw the group they looked either fully engaged in what Jonny was saying or they were busy drawing.

On one side of CIM City was K-Fitz and others that wanted to work together to create an application using data from  Kevin broke down the details of the contest and connected designers with developers so they could break into smaller groups and work out a plan.  Near the end I saw them regather to talk as one big group again. Wish I could tell you more but I was on the other side.

On the other side of CIM City was Livia talking about “Design Games.”  The name may be confusing but basically they are fun and effective methods used to help problem solving (often used in the design process).  I’m sure you may have heard of a few of these included free listing, reversal, role playing, and divide the dollar.  Livia provided a great pamphlet explaining each of the different techniques, you can visit for similar details on each of the games.  She then led the group in trying some of them out.  We picked the game to try and some of their pros and cons became clear as we used them.  After each round Livia pointed out some of the real world nuances to be aware of ensuring better results.  I look forward to having an opportunity to put some of these to use while they’re still fresh.

Refresh Philly
Jonny Goldstein
Kevin Fitzpatrick
Livia Labate


Refresh Philly: May 2009 Recap

Once again, May’s Refresh had 100+ people in attendance. This month we had “punch and pie,” but I doubt that was the reason for the numbers. Hoping they were there for this month’s speakers, Kellie Carter and Dave Cooksey spoke about user-centered design, it’s history and method.  Followed by Allen Frank, the CIO of Philadelphia, talking about Philly’s digital future.

Allen is on a mission to work out a plan for using the funds from Obama’s Broadband Stimulus Package to improve Philadelphia’s technical offerings. He started his talk by telling us about his background which suggests he “gets it.” Then covered some of the complexities that make up Philly’s technical challenges.

  • Listed as number 27 of 30 most wired cities
  • High percentage of low income households
  • Only 37% have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Percent of college graduates even fewer
  • Initial Wireless Philly project fell apart due to service partner failure

He also covered some of the goals:

  • Increased citizen access to Internet and city services via the Internet
  • Enhanced public safety
  • Aid youth and education (Philly net)
  • Connect patients/students to schools and hospitals
  • Create more Jobs (versus jobs) via a tech based growth sector
  • Add a WI-MAX network to expand public accessibility

The best part was that all these facts and figures were leading up to a request for our input. Not that I have the solution myself, but as a group the ideas were flowing. Some of that energy continued online at the Refresh Philly forums.  Even better, June’s Refresh is going to be a big brainstorming event.  Ideally putting to use some of the methods of rapid prototyping as explained by Todd Warfel of Message First, whom spoke at March’s Refresh event.

March Refresh
May Refresh
June Refresh
Refresh Philly forums
Todd Warfel

Events Social

Refresh Philly: April 2009

Refresh Philly: AprilFor April, Refresh is going out on the town.  They’re taking the meeting down to National Mechanics for a socially focused happy hour.  So bring your ideas on how we can improve Philadelphia via the talent, skills and technology that Refresh community has to offer.  It’s also a great way to meet some of the other members.


There is no RSVP needed for this event.  Still you’re free to let the world know you’re coming…and bring a friend.


Between meetings check out Refresh Philly’s website and join in the conversation.


Refresh Philly: March 2009

Refresh Philly - March 2009Refresh Philly, in it’s third installment, will feature talks from Luke Crawford of Muxtape and Todd Warfel of Message First.  There will also be some information regarding some upcoming *camps that will be running this Spring in Philly.

Luke Crawford, Muxtape:
Muxtape has relaunched after a short hiatus due to issues with record companies.  The core idea behind Muxtape is still to allow users tocreate their own mixes using the music available from their site. Find out what Luke has to say on these changes and where they’re going.

Todd Warfel, Message First:
Todd will be talking about Sketching and Rapid Iterative Design.  He’s from a Philly based design firm with a focus on data driven design, web standards and prototyping.


RSVP is required to gain access to the Comcast Center. RSVP on Facebook or email refresh[at] refreshphilly[dot]org

Presentations begin at 6:30pm.  Please bring a snack or beverage!

For more details visit

Design Events

Advertising that Changed the Nation

Advertising that Changed the Nation

Who doesn’t remember Smokey the Bear, McGruff taking a bite out of crime, or the Crash Test Dummies (not the band)?  These icons of pop culture were all part of the Ad Council‘s public service campaigns.  See these and more from the Ad Council’s 65 years of service at Art Institute of Philadelphia’s exhibit “Advertising that Changed the Nation.”  Which runs from February 11th to April 3rd, 2008 at the Art Institute’s gallery at 1622 Chestnut St., Philadelphia. Click here for more info.

The fine image above was done by Ryan Katrina (Neuarmy) of the Neiman Group, whom are underwriting (read: paying for) the exhibit.

the Ad Council
Art Institute of Philadelphia
Neiman Group


Refresh Philly: Part Deux: recap

Dare I say it, the sequel was better then the original. Once again there was a solid turn out and enthusiasm abound.  This week’s speakers were engaging with talk about MiND TV‘s future of “public” television using 5 minute videos.  While the Indy Hall Labs crew talked about how developers and designers can work together for a more successful project.  The kids at Indy Hall Labs also showed off their latest offering, Multiplex, a visual browser for your archive of DVD’s ripped with their Ripper app.

The Refresh Philly Google group has also been active with interest in working together to aid some local townships with their web presence.  Visit Refresh online and give’em  some of your time and your opinions.

Refresh Philly
Refresh Philly on Google
Indy Hall Labs


Refresh: part deux

refresh_febTomorrow is the second official meeting of Refesh Philly. Last month there were nearly 100 people in attendance for a two talks, about tech and user experience (respectively). This months offering should be a be less heavy in the tech jargon with two talks covering: the relationship between design and development by Johnny Bilotta; and Public Television in a new age by Howard Blumenthal.

Outside the confines of the Monday meeting there has been some discussion on the Google group regarding putting the talents of Refresh members to aid local municipalities with their web presence, check it out. Refresh can also use your input on deciding between a few logo concepts. If you have anything you’d like to share with the members of Refresh, post it on the Google groups page.

For more details visit the website:
or  Twitter / Google Groups / Flickr

Refresh Philly
Monday, February 2th, 2009
Comcast Center, 45th Floor
RSVP Required – via Facebook or email (refresh [at]


Big Day for America (and the World)

Gathering to watch history

Today was the Presidential Inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama.  I doubt that was news to anyone, but what did surprise me was the number of people that were full of excitement and anticipation for the day’s event.  In fact, most of the people I know were watching the event if they had the opportunity and others were disappointed that they couldn’t.  Personally, I initially going to try watching history unfold using CNN/Facebook, but it put me in a digital waiting room due to the volume of users.  So instead I joined some friends, co-workers and hundreds of others that filled the lobby of the Comcast Center.

It was almost noon by the time I got down there, but it was obvious many of them were there for some time.  Granted this was nothing compared to the thousands of people that filled the National Mall to be a part of the event as I doubt they could see much of the day’s event.  I wasn’t alive for Kennedy so until now stuff like this was just something that happened in history books.  There were people clapping, cheering, a few even had tears (of joy) in their eyes as Obama gave his speech.  Overall he inspires a great feeling of hope within people, both here and abroad, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Few more photos of the crowd at the Comcast Center


Refresh Philly Recap – Jan.09

On Monday night over eighty people showed for Refresh Philly’s inaugural meeting.  When we initially met to plan for this meeting I’m not sure any of us thought there would be such a turnout of energized people right out of the gates.  I hope that those that attended are just as enthused now as they were on Monday.

Refresh Philly - Jan09

The meet & greet was to start at 6 but people began pouring in just after 5:30 and we heard there was a bit of a line to get through security.  There is little we can do to ease the security issue, it comes with being able to host the meetings within the Comcast Center.  Still future meetings will continue to be held on the 45th floor on the first Monday’s of the month.  Something to keep in mind as February’s meeting isn’t too far off.

The first speaker, Tom Boutell, went into the technical history and benefits of Symfony, a Ruby on Rails styled framework for PHP.  If you’re unsure what some of that means you wouldn’t have been alone, a good 75% of the audience were not developers.  The second speaker(s), Phil Charron and Russ Starke of Think Browntone, talked about designing for better User Experience (UX) and how to approach the process for better results.  They gave some background on what UX is and methods for keeping UX in mind through out the project’s cycle.  They then approched the audience for ideas for Refresh to be used a demonstrations of how to implement the processes they just spoke about.  This group discussion also helped bring out some of the various interests and thoughts on how to refresh Philly. In the comming weeks the Refresh team will have their web pressence set up so the conversations can continue onlie after the meetings.

Till then check out the official recap at or see it for yourself at the next meeting RSVP here.

Tom Boutell
Think Browntone
RSVP here for February