September 10 - 12, 2013

The Mobile Context is Dead. Long Live Mobile Contexts!


The Mobile Context is Dead. Long Live Mobile Contexts!



Not so many years ago, prevailing wisdom extolled the uniqueness of the mobile user context. This drove the creation of curated, mobile-specific user experiences such as m-dot sites and native mobile apps. In the past couple of years, the favor of the web community has swung sharply away from these mobile-specific experiences and toward responsive web design, predicated on the idea that all users want access to the same content and functionality, organized and accessed in the same way, regardless of what device they're using. It's a compelling concept backed by smart, inventive, future-aware techniques. However, focusing on technique alone makes it easy to lose sight of the human user in the real world. We were wrong in the past to speak of the mobile context as though it were monolithic, simple, and deterministic. But we're just as wrong today to ignore the ways in which user contexts can drive meaningful differences in user needs, expectations, and behaviors. In this session, we'll examine the physical, technological, mental, and social dimensions that define a range of mobile contexts, and how they argue for a broader and more flexible approach to engaging with our users.


Eric Kim is a co-founder and head of design at Modo Labs, a mobile software company based in Cambridge, MA. In addition to leading conceptual and design work on Kurogo (Modo's open-source mobile framework), he also directs work for clients including Harvard, NYU, MIT, MGH, Novartis, and many more. He was also lead designer on the MIT Mobile Web framework, the predecessor to Kurogo. Previously he provided consultative graphic and UI design services to technology companies ranging from mobile startups to Fortune 500 firms. His emphasis in all of his design work is on making technology-driven experiences not just functional, but enjoyable and enlightened as well. Eric graduated from Harvard University in 1994 with an BA with honors in Visual and Environmental Studies, with a concentration in architecture and graphic design.




Technical Level


  • The Web, Today and the Future
  • Frameworks of the Modern Web
  • Responsive Design
  • Responsive Web Design
  • Mobile Web App
  • Hybrid App
  • Responsive Design + Server-side Components (RESS)