March 17, 2006

SXSW 2006 Roundup (Yeehaw!)

I once again find myself sitting on a plane on my way back from SXSW and feeling a bit sad. This year was just as good as (and quite a bit larger) than last year. I find myself still marveling at the blur of people I was fortunate enough to meet, either by putting a face to a URL or in meeting for the first time. Philly showed up in full force this year touting 8/9 of Pixelworthy. We all stayed at the Hampton Inn as it consistently proves itself to be where it’s at; they even added a daily free happy hour into the mix. Of course, as soon as we left Philadelphia, the temperature skyrockets to 80. Yes, it was beautiful and warm in Austin, but we were hoping to get away from the cold (and perhaps have something to brag about when we got back). Ah well.

This year I wandered my way on to two panels. The first, called “Traditional Design and New Technology”, paired me with other talented folks: Mark Boulton, Toni Greaves, Khoi Vinh and our amazing moderator Liz Danzico. The panel was in the first time slot of the conference (even before the opening remarks). There were a some minor technical and mic related difficulties, but it mostly went off without a hitch. We discussed what design from the past has over current web design and what can be done about it. This was indeed a very large topic, and we found ourselves only able to really scratch the surface in an hour. Feedback was largely positive, though this is a heavily and passionately debated topic, so we found that those who didn’t like the panel really didn’t like it. Regardless, this is a discussion that’s new to many and still unresolved to many more, which seemed like all the more reason to keep it going. If you are interested in the slides from the panel (which were more talking points than anything else) you can grab a PDF of them here. Hopefully the panel’s podcast will be on the podcast page soon as well.

The second panel I was on was called “Holistic Web Design: Finding The Creative Balance In Multi-Disciplined Teams” and included yet more talented folks: Garrett Dimon, Shaun Inman, Carl Sieber, and Eris Stassi. In the panel each of us took role in creating a redesign of the website; Garrett on project management and content, Eris on Information Architecture, me on logo and site designs, Carl on XHTML and CSS, and Shaun on Javascript and development. I was a bit overwhelmed when I found out we would be presenting in the largest room being used by the conference (complete with a rockstar lighting rig and stage), but once we got up there—and after some more technical foibles—we all seemed to just relax and hit our stride. The panel seemed to go very well (and the feedback was even better), the overwhelming response being that people hope Plazes will have a little chat with us. Slides from the presentation and the pages we created, can viewed found here. There will likely be a podcast for this panel on the podcast page too.

Some other panel highlights for me were seeing the Design Eye (this time, for the List Guy) team—Cameron Moll, Keith Robinson, Paul Nixon, and Ryan Sims—put on a good show with a Craigslist redesign and a thought provoking panel on “Digital Preservation and Blogs” with Carrie Bickner, Josh Greenberg, Alison Headley, Mike Linksvayer, and Colin Wells. I went to fewer panels this year, probably because I was busy with final preparations for two of my own, but nearly all the ones I did see were well worth it.

To wrap up: Austin still has lots of great food, and you will still find me at Las Manitas more than I’m comfortable with; team Pixelworthy nearly took the first annual Avalonstar Bowling trophy (sorry, Jeff Croft and team), but settled for 4th (dig that exquisite form); Dooce and Jon Armstrong seemed nearly as excited to meet me and Inman as we were to meet them; despite what you may think, I’m not even a little Jewish (#2); fellow Philadelphian and Pixelworthian, Michael McAghon, won a SXSW Web Award in the CSS category for the Kutztown University Communication Design department website (my, Rob’s, and Michael’s alma mater); my last minute business cards (silkscreened, cut, rounded, and stamped by hand making each one totally unique) proved to be quite popular, and caused me to come home with an even larger stack of everyone else’s cards; Rob and I both bought Mexican wrestling masks which will inevitably result in hours of enjoyment; people seem to still laugh at seeing my already-big-head even bigger; I’m more man than Inman or Greg can handle; and I barely had time to snap any photos (because I was too busy hamming it up… er… talking), but I threw the best of them on Flickr.

You’ve heard it before, but SXSW is most certainly about the people. I would just like to say thank you to everyone who attended our panels, bought me a drink, said hello, or otherwise contributed to the general good times. And just because you didn’t get name-dropped, doesn’t mean I don’t love you too. I had a blast and am already counting the days until SXSW 2007. I hope to see you all again next year!

Commentary (23):

1. Matt J says… mar 18, 2006 | 2:02 am

Ah yes, very nice write up of SXSW.

2. Bryan Veloso says… mar 18, 2006 | 2:15 am

Jason, like I said at the closing party, it was an honor meeting you and having you come out to the bowling event (you did have the best bowling pose, btw). Hopefully we can both find some more time to chat it up. Throw me your AIM name if I don’t remember to throw you mine first.

Man, so much to say… such a little comment box. Take it easy dude, I’m counting the days to next year’s festivities as well. Hell, I already want to make the 2007 version of the bowling site!

3. Wilson Miner says… mar 18, 2006 | 10:37 am

It was great to meet you, and an honor to be crushed under your bowling might. Well, OK that stung a little. Next year, Midwest brings the pain.

4. Dane says… mar 18, 2006 | 10:56 am

Yeah, totally. It was swell to meet ya, Jason, after years of listening to Arcade Fire and wonderin’ how a brilliant Halloween affectionado could have such fine tastes in music. Now I know. He starts every morning feasting on the brains of others.

Bryan, thank you for an excellent bowling extravaganza! Had there been an award for the loudest and most obnoxious team, the Beta Testers would have sweeped the game. As it was, were were stoked to move on to the second round.

What an amazing journey we all just shared, one that took us into the true heart and soul of the web.

5. Zach Inglis says… mar 18, 2006 | 10:56 am

It was fantastic meeting you.

.… and … er… huggging you, sorry ‘bout that. lol.

6. Mark Bixby says… mar 18, 2006 | 11:12 am

Jason, it was awesome to meet you (and the eminent Joshua Lane)! The panels were fantastic, and the panelists were remarkably open and genuine with the hoardes of admirers. Holistic Web Design needed to be about another hour I think, as did many of the panels. Some developers and I are really looking forward to putting a business plan behind this kind of amorphous collaborating we do. Really defining roles, etc… as you guys did. Getting out of our silos and understanding more deeply what the others do. Great job!

7. Nathan Smith says… mar 18, 2006 | 2:57 pm

Jason: It was great to have met you. I especially enjoyed the Plazes panel. I’m already looking forward to next year.

8. Andrea says… mar 18, 2006 | 3:11 pm

It was great to meet you! And I’m not sorry about hugging you. :)

9. Patrick Haney says… mar 18, 2006 | 4:02 pm

Team Refresh couldn’t help but rock all of you in the finals (we won by what, 10 pins?). It was quite an extravaganza though.

It was great to finally meet you, even if we didn’t really get to talk at all. And the Holistic panel was exceptional, one of my favorites from my first of many SXSW trips.

10. Ian Muir says… mar 19, 2006 | 12:35 am

Man, It’s a shame I missed out on this bowling event it seems like everybody was there.

The Holistic panel was great and it helped me discover your blog. I definitely am still reeling a bit from my first SXSW and hope to meet even more people next year (and hopefully get in on some bowling).

BTW: Decibel should’ve won the CSS Site award. It’s a great lookin site.

11. Jason Santa Maria says… mar 19, 2006 | 1:00 pm

It was great meeting all of you too! And no one should feel bad about hugging… but whoever grabbed my ass… well… I never did get your phone number.

13. Jason Santa Maria says… mar 20, 2006 | 7:01 am

I better grab both of your numbers so I can keep my options open.

14. steve says… mar 20, 2006 | 2:07 pm

kids or no kids, I’m going next year fo sure!

15. Jared says… mar 21, 2006 | 9:35 am

I missed it this year. But next year. NEXT year will be different.

16. Daniel Curran says… mar 21, 2006 | 10:20 pm

Jason, you should go into further detail or do an article on how you made your business cards, because I am always interested in how different people approach things like that differently, and they sound super cool.

18. Jason Santa Maria says… mar 24, 2006 | 11:51 am

Daniel Curran: Okey doke, I’ve received a bunch of requests, so I shall remit. Look for it soon.

19. Daniel Curran says… mar 24, 2006 | 7:48 pm


20. Faruk Ateş says… mar 26, 2006 | 9:00 pm

Hey Stan,

It was awesome meeting you. You’re really my kinda guy; excited and excitable, generously happy, warm and friendly and a big cuddly bear, half the time. All that personal cool adding to your myriad of inspiring design talents made you one of my fave people at SXSW, so I was sad we didn’t get to chat all -that- much. Still, it was good! :-)

I’m very much looking forward to next year’s SXSW as well.

21. Jason Santa Maria says… mar 27, 2006 | 10:04 am
…so I was sad we didn’t get to chat all -that- much.
I know, that sucks so much. Everything was so big, I really didn’t get to spend enough time with anyone. Don’t feel bad, I’m much less interesting in person :D
22. Praca says… oct 15, 2006 | 3:06 am

Oh what’s a pity… i missed this year… but in next year i wont!

23. Pozycjonowanie says… nov 1, 2006 | 7:54 pm

“Oh what’s a pity… i missed this year… but in next year i wont!” sorry but me to but like praca i will be next time