SXSW Interactive 2011 Highlights

John Reeve | March 22nd, 2011 | , , ,

SXSW Interactive 2011 ~ Web design and development festival in Austin, TexasWe’re back from another week of SXSW Interactive. Another week of non stop panels, eating our meals from food trucks, street vendors and overcrowded restaurants, and what little sleep we could grab back at the hotel. The festival itself was an opportunity to hear the latest on everything from web design and development to technology tips and trends. The streets of Austin were filled to capacity (did anyone else feel like they doubled the size of the festival this year?) and I hear they are going to cap attendance next year. If you missed SXSW this year, don’t miss it next year.

Four of us from the Intervals team were able to make it out to Austin, Texas, for the festival this year. When we got back I asked everyone to share a few thoughts from their experience. Specifically, I asked them for their top 3 panels, the best place for food, the best place for drinks, total hours of sleep, and any random thought or experience that had while at SXSW. Here is what we came up with…


Teddy and an Old Chub at The Ginger Man
Shameless self promotion everywhere...

Top 3 Panels

  1. Future Fitness: The Power of Personal Data
  2. Q&A With Google & Bing On Website Ranking
  3. The Politics Behind HTML5

Best place for drinks

  1. Hotel bar after getting stranded in Phoenix overnight
  2. The Ginger Man

Best place for food

  1. Champions ~ location, location, location

Total hours of sleep

About 5 a night with about 4 the last night in Phoenix

One random thing you’d like to add, perhaps something you saw or experienced that could only happen at SXSW

Tap that


Lazy Lunch at Champions
Moonshine Bar and Grill
The Ginger Man

Top 3 Panels

  1. Real Tech Rockstars: Engineers or Designers? ~ Solid gold!
  2. Web Anywhere: Mobile Optimisation With HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript ~ Concise, informative, comprehensive.
  3. Community Engagement Strategies: Rational Debate or Herding Cats? ~ Fantastic panelists, entertaining and informative.
  4. An Open Internet: The Last, Best Hope for Independent Producers

Best place for drinks

  1. The Ginger Man
  2. Champions ~ Surprisingly good selection of beer for a hotel restaurant/bar and good food, too.

Best place for food

  1. Moonshine ~ Best chicken-fried steak I’ve ever had
  2. Iron Cactus

Total hours of sleep

Probably around 5 hours a night, but that was slightly skewed by about 2.5 hours each on the first and last nights, and the time change didn’t help either. Something to add: Stay downtown!

One random thing you’d like to add, perhaps something you saw or experienced that could only happen at SXSW

Overheard: “Javascript is really hot right now.”


The Best Wurst Street Vendor
Did Jaime mention he loves Boddingtons?
Getting around the Austin Convention Center

Top 3 Panels

  1. Mistakes I Made Building Netflix for the iPhone (Slides)
  2. One Codebase, Endless Possibilities: Real HTML5 Hacking (Slides) ~Really liked the app
  3. The Politics Behind HTML5 ~ Amazing look into the inner workings of the W3C. They have tough problems to solve, lets hope they work them out!

Best place for drinks

  1. The Ginger Man ~ The Boddingtons was great!

Best place for food

  1. Iron Cactus ~ The tilapia was awesome!
  2. The Best Wurst

Total hours of sleep

4-6 hours a night.

One random thing you’d like to add, perhaps something you saw or experienced that could only happen at SXSW

I found it very eery the panelist Paul Cotton looked very much like the architect from the Matrix, coincidence? I think not!


John meets Tux on the expo floor
Brass band performing on the streets of Austin, Texas
Chi'lantro BBQ

Top 3 Panels

  1. A Bootstrapped Geek Sifts Through the Bullshit ~ Great advice for entrepreneurs with a technical background
  2. Worst Website Ever II: Too Stupid to Fail ~ Be sure to click through and listen to the audio. Some of the worst and funniest business ideas I’ve heard
  3. Scalability: Covering Your Rear with a Good Backend ~ Any web designer/developer considering developing a web-based application needs to listen to this panel
  4. Startup Marketing: It’s More Than a Twitter Account ~ The remote location kept the crowds away from this one, but it was a gem. Saul Colt from Freshbooks is a quirky, marketing genius.

Best place for drinks

  1. The Ginger Man ~ Deschutes Black Butte Porter and Inversion IPA on tap!
  2. Whole Foods ~ The walk-in-refridgerator beer room is awesome

Best place for food

  1. Chi’lantros BBQ ~ Cheap, fast, healthy and delicious
  2. Moonshine ~ Anywhere I can get sweet potatoes as a side, I’m there.

Total hours of sleep

4 to 6 hours per night. Should have gone to bed earlier each night.

One random thing you’d like to add, perhaps something you saw or experienced that could only happen at SXSW

Nerdist Podcast #69: John Oliver ~ There is a lot of free and cool stuff going on in Austin. Seeing Chris Hardwick live was fun, having only seen him on TV. Seeing him live with John Oliver made for the best night of the whole trip.

That’s a high level recap of our week at SXSW Interactive 2011 in Austin, Texas. Stay tuned for more blog posts on what we learned, and our thoughts looking forward to next year’s festival.

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A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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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 Payne

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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Braden Jones
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Braden Jones

Braden is a co-founder and strategist at Pelago. His blog posts draw from his worldwide business travels and forays into the retail apparel industry. Braden loves to surf and recently adopted a Doka named Moose.
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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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