SXSW Third Day Thoughts

h3. CSS Problem Solving

_Christopher Schmitt (Heatvision.com), Ethan Marcotte (Vertua Studios), Dave Shea (mezzoblue.com), Charles Wyke-Smith (Nacio Systems), Tiffany Brown (Webinista LLC)_

* Great material, if rushed.
* The slides are available: “Ethan Marcotte”:http://sxsw2006.vertua.com/, “Dave Shea”:http://mezzoblue.com/presentations/2006/sxsw/css/q1.html, “Charles Wyke-Smith”:http://mezzoblue.com/presentations/2006/sxsw/charles/sxsw_files.htm, “Tiffany Brown”:http://www.tiffanybbrown.com/sxsw06/

h3. Does Your Blog Have a Business?

_DL Byron Principal (Texturadesign), Phoebe Espiritu, Eric Rice (Audioblog.com), Shaun Inman (haveamint.com), Jeffrey Zeldman Founder, (Happy Cog Studios)_

h3. Keynote Interview

_Craig Newmark (craigslist.com), Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia)_

h3. WaSP Task Force Panel: Getting the Job Done Right

_Molly E Holzschlag (Molly.com), Steven Champeon (hesketh.com), Matt May (Blue Flavor), Drew McLellan, Dori Smith (Writer), Jennifer Taylor (Macromedia), Chris Wilson (Microsoft), Kimberly Blessing (KimmieCorp)_

* Web Standards: great cause, great group.
* The WaSP site redesign was unveiled later in the day.

h3. Design Eye for the List Guy

_Keith Robinson (Blue Flavor), Andrei Herasimchuk (Involution Studios), Cameron Moll (cameronmoll.com), Paul Nixon (Apple), Ryan Sims (Neubix)_

* They redesigned craigslist, which was described as being “undesigned.” That’s about how I would characterize it, and about where I would’ve stopped.

*Final note:* Denim is *in.* Khaki is definitely *out.*

_Photo courtesy of_ “Sooz”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/sooz/.


SXSW Second Day Reflections

h3. Sink or Swim: The Five Most Important Startup Decisions

_Michael Lopp (Apple), Evan Williams (Odeo), Joshua Schachter (del.icio.us), Joel Spolsky (Fog Creek Software), Cabel Sasser (Panic Software)_

Some good points, including:

# Avoid “sink or swim” decisions.
# Are free sodas necessary for software development?
# _Lots_ of new logos (and thus, new businesses) out there right now
# Some of the panelists took VC funding; some refuse to do so.
# Investors don’t seem to mind if 8/10 of their investments fail, as long as two of them go big. And fast. So they urge more risks. However, the entrepreneurs tend to want less risk of failure, at the possible risk of slower growth.

Then all the panelists answered “Why did you say no to Google?” (And Joshua explained why he said yes to Yahoo!)

h3. Smaller, Faster, Lighter

_Eric Hellweg (Harvard Business Review), Gray McCord (M3 Design), Renuka Rayasam (Business Reporter, Austin American-Statesman), William Bull (frogdesign), Andrew Horwitz (Seagate Technology)_

h3. Keynote Conversation

_Heather Armstrong (dooce.com), Jason Kottke (kottke.org)_

* Hmm. Heather seems to be very popular, but I just find it hard to relate to her. Charming and eloquent (and loquacious!), but ….
* Her best line was, “I have to _live_ the content, before I can write it.”
* Jason seemed nervous.

h3. DIY: Now More Than Ever

_Mike Hudack (blip.tv), Lynda Keeler (Delight Network), Matt Mullenweg (WordPress), Gina Trapani (Lifehacker), Ted Rheingold (Dogster)_

* Matt’s discussion of WordPress and open-source software was fascinating.

h3. Holistic Web Design: Finding the Creative Balance in Multi-Disciplined Teams

_Garrett Dimon, Shaun Inman (haveamint.com), Jason Santa Maria (Happy Cog Studios), Carl Sieber (fd2s Inc), Eris Stassi_

* *Best session yet.* This all-star team described how they worked together on a proposed redesign of the “Plazes”:http://plazes.com/ site.
* They had clearly done a lot of work.
* Their discussion of how they approached the project, collaborated, the challenges of the current site, and design decisions were tremendously educational.
* They also described a new cross-functionalism: each team member could intelligently describe all of the others’ roles, decisions and reasons. Yes, even in a “holistic” way.

The “slides/mockups”:http://www.someguynamedcarl.com/plazes/ are available.


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.


SXSW! Interactive! Austin!

Why all the exclamation points!?

Because I’m excited, that’s why. I’m here in Austin Texas for the “South By Southwest Interactive”:http://2006.sxsw.com/interactive/ conference. The excitement and the buzz, the energy are palpable.

I’m also looking forward to meeting some online buds (or just some guys I respect) in person: “Nathan”:http://sonspring.com/, “Ryan”:http://www.artofmission.com/, “Cody”:http://codylindley.com/ and “Nathan”:http://nathanlogan.com/.

Oh, and by the way, black really _is_ the new black.

*Update* _(and some name-dropping):_ They’re all great guys. Had lunch with a whole bunch of awesome people, including some of the “famous ones:” “Dustin”:http://www.dustindiaz.com/, “Jonathan”:http://www.snook.ca/, “Bryan”:http://avalonstar.com/, and “Peter”:http://peterflaschner.com/. Great conversation — the whole web industry feels energized and fresh, as if anything is possible.

_Photo courtesy of_ “J Wynia”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/jwynia/