Each year in Austin, one of the most epic gathering of tech minds happens at SXSW Interactive. This year I represented Phase2 Technology both as a speaker and as an excited participant. According to PCMag.com, there were 15,000 attendees making this year's event the most attended on record. It was my Fifth time at the festival, and by far my favorite. From more intriguing panel topics to a wider variety of industry professionals to network with, the entire experience was top-notch.
I focused on attending topics that effect me on a day to day basis, in my role as a designer. Some of the best talks were not particularly technical, but conceptual - dealing with issues that have multiple applications or are industry related. "We F*cked Up: Happy Cog and Friends, Exploring Failures, Together" addressed a topic that is prevalent in our industry but rarely talked about .. what happens when things don't go right. The panel was well organized and moderated, and was accompanied by fantastic slides that consisted of humorously awkward photos. One of my favorite parts of this conversation was when each panelist defined what failure means to them. Greg Hoy, President of Happy Cog East had a great definition: "At the end of the day, not being able to proudly promote the work that you've done".
Another talk that I found particularly fascinating was on Visual Note-taking. The panel was all about sketching an handed out great little sketchbooks to the crowd. What I found particularly interesting about this talk was that everything they explained had multiple applications, it wasn't just about drawing, but about simplifying concepts, a skill that all web designers use frequently. The panelists demonstrated simplifying a person by drawing their torso first to capture the movement of their gesture. Another interesting demonstration showed how you could express multiple emotions using combinations of 3 simple shapes.
Apps and Technology
One of the best parts of SXSW is the introduction of new technology and apps. SXSW made Twitter popular a few years ago and other online apps hope the same kind of mass adoption can spread from a huge push at the festival. While Gowalla is not new, it really showed it's superiority in the Geo-location wars at SXSW. With a beautifully crafted interface and fun incentives, Gowalla made attending SXSW a big game with prizes. If you are not familiar with Gowalla or Goelocation games they are the newest innovation in mobile technology. The added incentive of prizes made the conference a blast, people won cameras, Palm Pris, I won some Tea and a glass of scotch. It proved the value of geolocation apps in a social setting.
I had the pleasure of giving a talk an inspirational talk on Web Typography on Friday. My talk was part of a larger SXSW Design Workshop in which each speaker dove into the theme of Beautiful Web Design. My Talk and the entire workshop had an amazing turnout and I appreciate everyone who came out to check it out. It's amazing to meet so many other folks who love type and letters as much as I do. Here are my slides:
Great web related SXSW commentary and content: