Designers at SXSW?

AmberThis week at Inside the Net Amber MacArthur and Leo Laporte talked about SXSW. Amber actually made it down though I didn’t bump in to her at SXSW. What surprised me is that Amber was really surprised at how many designers were there.

Maybe it’s just me but SXSW has always been design first and technology second. Even when the panels are about standards the focus is design. Why Amer thinks this is just a Tech Web 2.0 conference baffles me.

Does any one agree with me? Designers own SXSW and though it’s fun to talk about business and technology the focus will always come back to design even if I have to get on stage and drag it there myself.

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SXSW – reference


Designing the Next Generation of Web Apps (more)

How to Convince Your Company to Embrace Standards (more)

WaSP Annual General Meeting

Microformats: Evolving The Web (more and more)

Web Standards and Search Engines: Searching for Common Ground

Holistic Web Design: Finding the Creative Balance in Multi-Disciplined Teams (more)

Web 2.1: Making Web 2.0 Accessible (more)

Demystifying the Mobile Web (more and more)

How to Make the Most of Maps

Sink or Swim. The Five Most Important Start-up Decisions

Tantek Çelik Presentation: Creating Building Blocks for Independents

How to Bluff Your Way in DOM Scripting (more)

How to Be A Web Design Superhero (more)

Traditional Design and New Technology (more and more)

OSX and Longhorn Development

Video Blogg Business Models

Ambient Findability

Learning From Comics

Craig Newmark Interview (more and more)

Standard Deviation

Cluetrain Seven Years Later

Creating Passionate Users

The Wisdom of Crowds

Opening Remarks: Jim Coudal and Jason Fried

How to do Precisely the Right Thing at all possible times

Bruce Sterling (more)

Dogma Free Design

Design Eye for the List Guy

Wasp Task Force (WTF)

CSS problem solving

Smaller, Faster, Lighter

Design and Social Responsibility

Starting Small: Web Business for the Rest of Us

Does Your Blog Have a Business? (more)

“Zero-Advertising” Brands

Serious Games for Learning

Digital Convergence

Cyberplace: Online in Offline Spaces – and Vice Versa

Book Digitization and the Revenge of the Librarians (still looking but here are some pannelist notes: here, here and here)


How to be a Web Design Superhero

Float like a butterfly (Ethan Marcotte)

Microformat slides

Design Eye for the List Guy

How to bluff your way in DOM Scripting

Traditional Design and New Technology (full post)


Joi Ito interviews people at SXSW (original post)


SXSW Podcasts

Avalonsta Podcast feed

Further Reading at Squidoo: SXSW 2006

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SXSW gossip

Just to stir up some trouble I thought I’d point out some of the more amusing points of SXSW.

Jason Santa Maria really has a love hate relationship with Stan. Holistic Web Design used some illustrations of stan as users point of view and you could almost see Jason cringe.

Sean Inman is a tiny tiny man. He’s extremely slight and most likely wears his facial hair proudly as to not be mistaken for a high schooler or perhaps a small child. Jason Kottke is always hard to spot at conferences but that’s only because no one’s looking in the right places. If you are in a panel look to the far back corner to find the man who hides so well.

This year Jason offers other advice like “Never Get Married”. Something he should say as much as he can if he really wants his wedding to go well in the next 2 weeks. All I can say is if I donated to do I get a wedding invitation? I think so.

Eris Stassi must be web designs little secrete. Her occasional posts on her blog were very reflective and deep though very far between. Clearly she has a lot of clout as she really directed the Holistic Web Design panel in there decisions and really seemed to be a diving force in how amazing the redesign of Plazes seemed to be. Not to mention that she is truly beautiful.

Jason Santa MariaI’m surprised that with so few big named women in web design Eris does not get more attention. Perhaps it’s good that the web design bolgosphere only cares about content and could care less if your pretty or not. Though it seems most big named designers are not ugly at all. I mean look how pretty Jason Santa Maria is. Talk about one sexy beast.

(thanks to Laughing Squid for the pic of JSM)

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SXSW Day 2

Sunday was very low key. Only a couple of sessions really stood out. Meet Judy Jetson was interesting but not overly so. We still seemed to be so frighted of teens using technology that we can’t get past it. Of the 3 one did mention sconex which was pretty cool even though it was just in passing.

The Keynote with Jason Kottke and Heather Armstrong was good. I never got in to Dooce but I do like Kottke. I think it’s funny that so many designers can agree on something like web standards but still can’t accept pro blogging as something respectable. I meet Jason briefly at AIGA and he’s a really nice guy.

In fact he’s the opposite of what anyone might think. If you ever want to find Jason at a conference you just need to look for some one with a power book in the corner who is trying to disappear. I’ve never seen anyone who wanted to blend in to the background as much as Jason does. I could tell he was best on stage when he was talking to Heather and forgot about the audience.

Running Your New Media Business and Sink or Swim: The Five Most Important Start up Decisions was good but nothing revolutionary. If anything I like hearing over and over again the same thing at similar panels. I hope that when I start my own mew media company I might even do the right thing the first time around.

Holistic Web Design was by far the best presentation of the day. All of the members of the panel help completely redesign and the results were amazing. I loved to hear each one talk about the project, what they changed, why and how it effects the end user. Eris Stassi (who abandoned her blog several months ago) really did an amazing job of directing the redesign and I have even more respect for her then I had in past years.

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SXSW Day 1


Traditional Design and New Technology was slow panel. Liz Danzico (who might be angry at me) was a great moderator and continues to ask great questions every time I see her. The panel bright up many problems but didn’t really offer anything close to an answer. JSM seemed the closest to bring actual conversation to what seemed mostly like a doom and gloom panel about how design sucks on the internet. They kept saying the technology wasn’t at a point where we can just forget about it. I don’t know if they are waiting for technology to stop but I think a large part of web design will be new technologies and functionality that can be added to websites. If they are waiting for technology to get to a point where it gets out of the way of making a website I think they have a long wait. Technology will continue to change and challenge how websites are made. Design needs to learn how to exist in that or die trying.How to be a superhero

How to be a web design superhero was mostly fluff and I’m not really sure who that was supposed to help. Perhaps people who want to design but have no idea how to start. Not the people who really seem to come to SXSW. They did have the prettiest presentation I’ve ever seen with a really engaging panning and sliding around. I not sure if it was Keynote or not but it sure looked cool. I wonder if they had the rights to use those super hero images. They looked like Alex Ross painting but it’s been so long sine I’ve followed comics that I can’t really be sure.

Fried and Coudal did a great job of summarising the entire conference and were great over all. Couldal is greatly suited to be a moderator and I wish he had even more involvement in the conference. AIGA’s presenter in Boston, John Hockenberry, was not amazing and I think Coudal could have easily stepped in and taken over. He’s just so personable. Fried pointed out to a yahoo employee that yahoo wastes a lot of money. Basically saying they suck and it got a big reaction from the crowd. ‘m sure that will come up again and again around the web with funny headline everywhere.

Making money with your blog design skills was mostly rehashing old information. I was hoping to hear some information about blog design that was different then regular websites beyond that you had to know how to use the blog technology. Though the panel was lacking in new information they were all great. The moderator was interesting, knowable and great at controlling the time flow. The panelist were extremely personable and I want to go to subscribe to all of there blogs right now.

Kathy Sierra’s Creating Passionate Users has to be up for best presentation in the conference. I think she blew about 200 minds in the most informative presentation I’ve ever seen. I’ll definitely be looking for the notes in the near future to bring back to Sconex.

Photos: Andy Budd and kitseeborg