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.
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!