SXSW: First Day Favorites

“SXSW Interactive”:2006.sxsw.com/interactive/ has been rewarding, educational, exciting, and somewhat overwhelming.

Definitely, meeting everyone is the best part. In addition to those mentioned yesterday, and in no particular order, it was great to meet (and actually talk to some of) these guys: the brothers “Brill”:http://www.ryanbrill.com/, “Stephen”:http://www.brightcorner.com/, “Jared”:http://www.jaredigital.com/, “Bill”:http://www.mydarndest.com/, “Dave”:http://davidseah.com/, “Alex”:http://cssbeauty.com/, Lance, and “Eric”:http://arkitrave.com/.

The audio of the sessions are available as “podcasts”:http://2006.sxsw.com/coverage/podcasts/.

Some thoughts and memories about the sessions I attended on Saturday:

h3. Traditional Design and New Technology

_Toni Greaves (Creative Dir, Razorfish), Mark Boulton (markboulton.co.uk), Khoi Vinh, Liz Danzico (Dir of Experience Strategy, AIGA)_

The panel generally concluded that:

# Good design of real things (mostly talking about print design) can generate full and rich *emotional connections,* between the consumers/audience and whatever the thing is; and
# That emotional connection is largely *lost* online.

* I think I *disagree* — good web design _can_ build emotional connections. The difference is that, _online, those connections seem never to be as deep._
* A guess at the reason *why* that is: every site that now has great design … is just a redesign away from *killing* that emotional connection.

h3. How to Be A Web Design Superhero

_Andy Budd (Clearleft Ltd.), Andy Clarke (Stuff and Nonsense)_

* Excellent program. Motivating and entertaining, funny and engaging.

The slides are available on Andy Clarke’s “Stuff and Nonsense”:http://www.stuffandnonsense.co.uk/archives/how_to_be_a_web_design_superhero.html.

h3. Keynote: Opening Remarks

_Jim Coudal (Coudal Partners), Jason Fried (37Signals)_

* Also very, very good.

“Jim”:http://www.coudal.com/ started with the concept of *”design entrepreneurs,”* which might be described as *”revenge of the creatives.”* He suggested three questions before deciding to do any particular project:

# Good work? (I think he means, “will the project be interesting and rewarding?)
# Learn something? (Well, will we?)
# Good pay.

He also said, “The curious will inherit the earth.” That is, hire the guy who’s talented, passionate and curious. (Rather than someone who knows a particular program or language.)

“Jason”:http://www.37signals.com/ did a passionate rant, expressing the theme of his new book “Getting Real”:http://gettingreal.37signals.com/. (Not that I’ve read it yet, but that’s the impression I get from the chapters online.)

Start small; start slow. Start “on the side.” Obscurity is an advantage. Fail in obscurity.

Embrace the concept of *”Less.”* It’s a huge competitive advantage. Underdo your competition. Build products that _just work_.

# Less time is a blessing. As are:
# Less money.
# Less software.
# More constraints.

*”Build it small; launch it; learn; iterate; adjust; improve.”*

In anser to “how to make money?” he used … sarcasm: *”By charging for stuff.”*

Jim closed by speculating Jason will soon develop software that literally does _nothing_.

h3. How to Make $$ With Your Blog Design Skills

_Paul Chaney (Radiant Marketing Group), Peter Flaschner (Flashlight Design), Joelle Reeder (Moxie Design Studios), Lisa Sabin (E.Webscapes), Susannah Gardner (Hop Studios)_

* A good session, fairly tightly focused on blog design.

h3. Starting Small: Web Business for the Rest of Us

_James Archer (Forty Media), Michael Buffington, Leonard Lin (Yahoo!), Veerle Pieters (Duoh! N.V.), Nick Finck (Digital Web Magazine)_

* Great topic and a great panel. They had clearly done a lot of work on the companion “Starting Small”:http://startingsmall.info site, and some real-time chat features. Unfortunately, the presentation was hampered by at least one technical glitch: the conference had set up 10 or 15 wifi access points, but at least half the people had their laptops open. Connections had been good all day, but shut down right in time for this presentation.