2005 SXSW Interactive Conference

Mar 14th

Review of the first couple days of the South by SouthWest conference. It does not much relate to search, but if you like other web, design, and interactive media stuff it might be worth glancing at. Friday, March 11

Ducking Bullets and Blowing Up Barriers
Thomas Fulp talked about independant game design. He runs the flash website Newsgrounds and recently launched Alien Hominid. His game looks cool enough that I am debating buying a Playstation 2.

He talked a good amount abut how being independant helped the creative process. I think I am a good bit more creative and efficient without structure and barriers real jobs and employers provide.

Saturday, March 12

The Imagination Challenge: Points of Departure for Design in the Knowledge Age

Alexander Manu talked about how the industrial revolution split work and play. He stated that play is where most of the creative ideas come from. Being a grown up child makes it far easier to expand the limits of technology & creativity.

Yet another presentation that makes me want to go out and buy some more video games. ;)

Ramblings from the Ranch
Chipp Walters and Michael McGar, a couple well known vets from the Austin tech scene talked about some of the trends they have seen in industrial design.

As time passes artificial intelligence and genetic algorithms will become more and more intertwined into the design process. They also stated that one thing that really helped Austin take off in the tech scene is that many of Austin's early industrial design firms openly shared their work and products with one another.

Zeldman gave the Opening Remarks Saturday keynote. His The Daily Report site is rather popular and he also works on A List Apart and The Web Standards Project.

He was a funny speaker who ended his speech with a which one of these things is not like the other game. He emphasized the importance of having fun, meeting people, and social interaction at SXSW. He also brought up Matthew Mullenweg to explain how South by SouthWest helped Matthew create WordPress.

How to Hot-Wire the Creative Process
Curt Cloninger gave what I thought was generally a kick ass presentation. He pointed out some of the ideas he uses and encourages his students to do to think up creative ideas.

a few of the concepts he stressed were

  • people should use processes but they are not universal or one size fits all

  • as designers we are editors. nobody really starts from "scratch"
  • we should all have test sites to practice and learn on. if you do not want to make a formal connection you can annonymously publish it.

a few of the cool resources he pointed out were

He also posted his presentation online.

Blogging Without Borders: Bridging the Digital Content Divide
Panel talked about the effects of weblogs in emerging countries and how they affect social and political conditions.

They talked about raising money after the recent tsunami and how some people crossed large plots of land to bring their ideas to portions of the country which still had web access.

In the Q&A section Hossein Derakhshan, a popular blogger who covers Iran, was asked what was the biggest worries with Iran country going forward. The response was the worry of war destroying the recent buildup in the country. He also stated that the country has some semi democratic processes and the corporate controlled government in the US may not compare all that favorably to it.

He also stated that most of the youth in Iran is not politically active. He said what would really help the country move forward is if they could get a journal of a 50 yr old Iranian who was politically active when he was young and upload those entries to the web each day.

Sunday, March 13

Malcolm Gladwell gave the keynote speech. He primarily discussed some of the rapid cognition and inherant natural predjudice concepts in his book Blink. He has rather strong carisma and is a great public speaker.

Later he was signing books and I got a signed copy of The Tipping Point - a key pickup as it is one of my two favorite books.

We The Media
After Gladwell's keynote Dan Gillmore was the next speaker I watched. He covered concepts which were in his We The Media book and talked about various points in the history of online media where he felt that he noticed a shifting in media.

He pointed to

  • an email a random guy in Florida sent him during a conference - which allowed near real time feedback

  • September 11 coverage - where many pictures came from the web first and vivid accounts such as now I know what a burning city smells like.
  • feedback he found on the Interesting People newsletter
  • coverage of the Challenger space shuttle entry
  • coverage of the tsunami
  • coverage of the 2000 election - and how he was getting great coverage by mixing and matching to roll his own news

He stresses that if you are a journalist no matter what you know your audience will know more than you and that presents a huge opportunity for journalism.

After his speech I think I was the first person to get a signed copy of Dan's book and I think I also overheard him say that his speech will be on IT Conversations.

How to Build Your Brand with Blogs
Panel hosted by Jason Fried, DL Byron, Molly Holzschlag, Jim Coudal, and Robert Scoble.

They stated that blogs are not for everyone and that if you don't have something interesting to say there is no reason to expect people to read it.

One of the most important things for writing is to be authentic.

Scoble ever so slightly talked about SEO (primarily saying that people should use descriptive title tags). He also stated that he uses PubSub to track various post topics for MicroSoft.

In the Q&A section someone asked about clients who may not like you for comments you may make on your blog. Jason said that you should not want clients who would be upset by you writing your opinions. He said he is well known for dropping the f-bomb and the s-bomb and that he you should not change who you are for clients.

Being fake kinda undermines the whole point of the web. With the Long Tail there is a market for just about anything so long as it appears honest and thoughtful.

I got a pre signed version of Jason's book. I wanted to wait and get one signed in person and have him put F-bomb in the autograph.

That is probably a good link building idea for whoever does it first, create a logo for people who support gratuitous amount of F-bombs in their content.

The Web Awards occured after the conference on Sunday. I sat next to a MicroSoft employee and chatted search a small amount. I was stoked to see TheMeatrix amongst the prize winners at the show. Moophius came on the stage and claimed the prize.

After going to NYC and seeing how many people are covering search coming here and seeing that the Interactive portion of this conference probably only has about 1,000 people seems amazing.

With the breadth of the topics covered here and the quality of the speakers and visitors you would expect many more people to be here, but I guess it just goes to show how new the web is. From what I have seen there are few marketers here and I have not seen much discussion about search or broad based marketing, but then again there still are a couple days left in the conference and there is a panel called how to make money with online ads Monday.

Published: March 14, 2005

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