I went to the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin a couple weeks ago (March 7-11) and was quite inspired- by a few of the conference speakers, but mostly just by the energy, the hallway conversations, and the feeling that I was surrounded by THE group of people shaping technology design right now. The vibe was great… it didn’t hurt that many of the companies threw awesome parties in the evenings. Nightly we enjoyed 3 timeslots of fun, each with a bunch of parties competing to give us free booze, good (most of the time) music, and (my favorite) creative swag. But back to the content of the conference…
Here are a few of the my favorite quotes (as close as I could get them):
- “Green your geek.” Alex Steffen on how to make social & environmental changes on a daily basis
- “[Blogs are] like watching you get beaten to death by croutons.” Bruce Sterling
- “Disorder is only an order we cannot see.” Dan Saffer on Vegas as well as websites such as MySpace and eBay
- “It is better to be flamboyant failure than mediocre success.” Jeffrey Zeldman on being fearless with design
- “[Mashups are] an epi-phenomenom, but not a cultural advance.” Bruce Sterling
- “Current journalism needs a spine transplant.” Dan Rather on the dearth of investigative reporters in the past 5 years
- “You are brilliant and the earth is hiring.” Alex Steffen quoting Paul Hawkin
My take on what panelists were talking about this year:
- Participatory culture/ user generated content
- Politics- DRM rights, politics of fear
- Virtual worlds, avatars, gaming
- Design for change; sustainability, social, educational
- Designing well & smart in big companies
- Finding inspiration in many arenas
- How to hire, build design teams, communicate better
- The role of class in design
My favorite talks:
- World Changing 2.0
- Will Wright keynote (He demoed Spore- I’m not big into video games- but the character 3D design tools look so amazing, even I’m dying to play this thing.)
- Bruce Sterling rant
- Field guide to design inspiration
- Design patterns – Luke Wroblewski
- Stop designing products – Peter Merholz
- Learning Interaction Design From Las Vegas
- Henry Jenkins interview by Dana Boyd
- Dan Rather interview
- Get Unstuck panel
They’re continuing to post podcasts to the south by southwest site. I highly recommend checking some of them out.
Here are a few final thoughts on the conference:
- There’s a relatively low barrier to entry for presenters- no paper required, there’s just voting on the website. This is good and bad… good because it might get some of us to start talking about our work (we came up with a huge list of interesting topics about our eBay design challenges, culture, community, etc.) and bad because you have to pick and choose carefully (by the end I was only going to panels that had a presenter someone recommended).
- Panels were better when the moderator did not present, but focused on keeping the conversation flowing. Also, preparation and chemistry between panelists made a huge difference.
- I had no idea Austin weather was so finicky. One day hot, the next stormy, the next perfectly gorgeous. Nor did I realize so many bars could survive in such a small radius.
- Twitter was all the rage- sxsw even provided a central big screen TV displaying messages real time (shockingly entertaining)
All in all, a big 2 thumbs up for sxswi!