Off to the SXSW Festival

Michael Payne | March 9th, 2007 | ,

SXSW Austin Convention Center

I am currently at SXSW on the Interactive path. It is the first time I’ve attended SXSW and it feels like a great event for creative people to get together. The fact that it’s called a “festival” instead of a conference or seminar says a lot. It is a very open and free style environment where you get to mix with industry peers and catch a new idea or two over a few beverages. For those that don’t know anything about SXSW it has three distinct areas of interest:

I am here with an “Interactive” badge only since it’s a quick trip. The panels and discussion areas cover a wide range of web related topics in the Interactive section. Here is a list of the Interactive panel schedule.

SXSW Panels

I plan on attending these panels:

Writing, Better

The session investigates what makes for good writing — and what the future might hold for the written word in a world that is being inundated with podcasts and video.

Getting to Consistency: Don’t Make Your Users Think

Making software predictable and consistent makes it much easier to use. This session will explain UI consistency and point out examples of failures and their consequences.

Your Web Application as a Text Adventure

If your web application can’t easily be adapted as a classic text adventure, your application has serious problems on multiple levels. Applications that can’t be easily adapted likely suffer from application structure and design problems, UI dependency, to organizational politics and bad decisions. Applications with open APIs, simple information organization, built in the spirit of sharing make great text adventures, and not coincidentally, are usually very successful as web application.

Web 2.0 / 3.0 Make Your Passion Your Profession

Don’t need no VC when you’ve got a PC.” Not only has technology revolutionized the production and distribution of content, but it has also allowed indie creators to bypass traditional lawyers/MBAstodefine the rights fortheir creations and reap maximum profits. The Constitutionstates thatcreators own their creations–so now what’s the best way for creators to share, sell, and profit? From Open Source CMS to online incorporation to web 2.0/3.0 to the registering of patents, trademarks, and copyrights, this is a panel for the indie creator.

High Class and Low Class Web Design

Elite web designers are baffled by the success of seemingly “undesigned” sites like Google, Craigslist, and eBay. Usability experts explain the success of such sites as a triumph of function over style, others claim that a good business model always beats good design. This panel will investigate a third possibility: Just as Apple, BMW, and The New York Times market high-end products to elite customers,Wal-Mart, Fox News, and World Wrestling Entertainment target their working-class customers very… differently. Is there a design class system?

Accessibility Wars: A Report From the Trenches

The development of WCAG 2.0 has been contentious. Some in the accessibility field are not pleased. There is even a call for an invitation-only group outside of W3C to develop WCAG 1.0 extensions. Which criticisms have sound basis, and which are based on misinformation? How is W3C WAI addressing the input it has received on WCAG 2.0 Working Drafts? A frank and open discussion of the state of accessibility standards.

Design Workflows at Work: How Top Designers Work Their Magic

Have you ever wondered how the top designers work their magic? What is their workflow? What tools and techniques work best for them as they create compelling and inspiring designs. Find out the workflows that work best in today’s fast paced environments. Get tips and best practices as true ‘Design Superheroes’ share their craft.

It’s a great range of topics and I’m only here Friday through Sunday. The Interactive Panel runs through Tuesday. Next year we may make it a company wide trip for the whole span of days…

– Michael

3 Responses to “Off to the SXSW Festival”

  1. Frank says:

    The “Design Workflows at Work: How Top Designers Work Their Magic” sucked…most people walked out fifteen minutes after the “experts” began talking about whether or not they worked with music playing…? WTF?

  2. Michael says:

    I could not agree more and was one of the people who walked out as part of the mass exodus.

  3. Jeff Croft says:

    Sorry you guys didn’t like it. I would say two things in response:

    1. Everyone said the second half was what they came for. Apparently we got off to a slow start. That our fault, and not yours, but it does mean that you’re probably not qualified to review the panel with a word like “sucked” if you didn’t stay for even a quarter of it.
    2. Our 27 interviews certainly suggested that music was a key part of a designer’s workflow (although not mine, as I said in the panel). Perhaps there was some misunderstanding of what we meant by “workflow.” In any case, I hope you’ll at least check out the “hard data” portion of our panel, since you left before we mentioned it:

    My apologies again, guys. Hope whatever panel you left us for was great.

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John Reeve
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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