Archive for the 'SxSW' Category

An Apology to Jeff Croft from the Drunken Wretch That Was Me Last Night

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

Dear Jeff,

I couldn’t be more mortified when I woke up this morning (in hangover agony mind you) and read your post A response to one especially harsh critic of our SXSW panel. That horrible woman was me, and I apologize deeply, and publicly, for making you feel badly.

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Very Curious About This Bootstrap Network Thing

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Yesterday I met this cool guy named Bijoy. He was an immediately obviously intelligent, well-spoken, and interesting person. I liked him right away. Pretty early into the brief conversation, though, he told me that I was the type of person who could never be happy having a boss. Not too much later he told me that I was an evangelist. Huh? He meant that I was one of three types of people, as he has defined in his book The Human Fabric. These three types are Mavens, Relaters, and Evangelists. When asked what how these types were defined I was told that mavens are all about knowledge, Relaters are all about relationships, and Evangelists are action driven. I told him that I’d like to think I was a bit of all three and he gave me a knowing wink and simply said, “everyone does.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I have an inherent difficulty with those that think they can classify me as any “type” of person – especially upon first meeting me. I am a deeply reflective person and I feel that I am the one best equipped to realize my own nature.

So I felt a bit conflicted – I liked Bijoy and clearly he was quite interesting and charming, yet I didn’t appreciate being immediately classified. I went back to my hotel and did some research on him and found that my confusion only deepened. Clearly there were lots of folks who believe that Bijoy has this gift of “seeing” people quickly and clearly. He had written what appeared to be an interesting book, and he had started a network of entrepreneurs, the Bootstrap Network, that was flourishing here in Austin with splinter groups popping up around the world.

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My Life May Have Just Been Changed

Monday, March 12th, 2007

I just attended the most impactful presentation I have seen here at SxSW. It was called The 4-Hour Workweek: Secrets of Doing More with Less in a Digital World and it’s description read, “Is your team mired in the goo and muck of old-school thinking? Are your designers and developers divided on their approach and about to throw in the towel? Are you dying to move from a stale world to a more agile, innovative approach? This panel features formerly stuck experts as well as those who have helped clients get out of the muck. Success in today’s web environment means merging design and development thinking to move to a 2.0 world and beyond.”

I almost didn’t go to this today because it was the first panel of the morning, I was tired, and I couldn’t really tell from the description whether it would be interesting or now. Well, the description was misleading. The lone presenter, Tim Ferriss, was a charismatic, dynamic, power-horse of amazing advice. Honestly, right now, my mind is a bit blown. I am filled with manic energy while I frantically try to process how my entire view of running a business and living a life may very well have just been dramatically altered.

Here are my notes from this radical presentation:

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Some Panels are Cooler than Others

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

It was an up and down day at SxSW today. After the disappointing first panel of the day I was really feeling discouraged about the quality of presentations here. Luckily the next presentation renewed my faith in the conference.

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Busting Tantek’s Balls … and Receiving a Free Microformats T-Shirt

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

So if you read my first SxSW post you know that I was pretty disgusted by the How to Rawk SxSW presentation, which had on it’s panel the esteemed Tantek Celik (the creator of Microformats and the box model hack, Chief Technologist at Technorati, and general web standards celebrity).

Last night, after meeting some new friends (Trey, Dave, and Paul) I was at one of the many SxSW parties when I was informed that Tantek was upstairs. I quickly took the opportunity to go up there and bust his balls a bit. I announce to my friends that this is my intention, and my business partner particularly was a bit freaked out. Several of them urged me to reconsider. I, however, insisted that I could give Tantek a bunch of grief and let him know how much I thought the Rawk panel was lame, and yet do so charmingly, and leave the discussion with him liking me.

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Learning Less Than Expected From Design Superheros

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Last night was so much fun. So much fun that I missed my morning panel. The second panel, “Design Workflows at Work: How Top Designers Work Their Magic,” is a disappointment – especially since I really admire the work of the panelists and was really looking forward to hearing them speak.

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Is There a Design Class System?

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

My final panel of the day was one I had really been looking forward to. It was entitled, “High Class and Low Class Web Design” and the description read, “Elite web designers are baffled by the success of seemingly “undesigned” sites like Google, Craigslist, and eBay. Usablity expertsexplain the success of such sites as a triumph of function over style, others claim that a good business model always beats good design. This panel will investigate a third possibility: Just as Apple, BMW, and The New York Times market high-end products to elite customers,Wal-Mart, Fox News, and World Wrestling Entertainment target their working-class customers very… differently. Is there a design class system?”

The answer, as I hope that you, Dear Reader, are already painfully aware of, is YES – there indeed is high-class, and low-class design (at least, I firmly believe so). But beyond that I didn’t really get too far. The panel seemed completely surprised by each question that was asked of them by the moderator (who seemed to be the only one of them who has really given these topics any great deal of thought. Khoi Vinh seemed especially uptight and even unhappy to be here.

However, it wasn’t at all a total waste of time, because although they weren’t necessarily answered, I think many interesting questions were asked. Questions like …

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SxSW Needs a User Experience Expert

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

You read yesterday about the definitively non-interactive registration process here at SxSW. As I arrived five minutes early to attend my next panel, Web App Autopsy, I was informed at the door that the panel had been moved to the third floor. I soon discovered that the only access to the third floor was through the two tiny elevators. The was a line around the interior block of the conference center for these elevators. I waited in this line for about 15 minutes. Finally getting my turn on the elevator I found myself packed in like pickles (Ellen reference … substitute sardines if you haven’t seen it) while I enjoyed a very stuffy, aromatic, and painfully slow ride down to the third floor from the second. That’s right … don’t make me explain it, because I can’t.

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Finding Design Inspiration Everywhere

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

Latest panel at SxSw: After the Brief: A Field Guide to Design Inspiration, presented by Jason Santa Maria and Rob Weychert of Happy Cog Studios. Cameron Moll was also supposed to present but he was sick. =(

The first thing Jason said that I found interesting was to look not at other web sites to find inspiration for website designs because that creates cliché, which quickly gets old. I’m not sure how much I agree or not. I do think it’s true that new ideas in web design get quickly adapted and ubiquitized (ok, I made up that word – but it should be able to be a verb, I think) – take the web 2.0 badge, for example, that “wicked worn look,” and just about anything else that’s cool … all too fast it becomes overdone and then passé. Yes, I agree that the ideal is to be among the first to come up with those ideas, rather than constantly chasing what’s hip. However, I also think that it’s important to be aware of those trends. I also think that looking at designs that really inspire you can lead you to riff off those concepts and often take them to new levels, or morph them into something else entirely.

“Design is not a thing you do. It’s a way of life.” This is a quote by Alan Fletcher, who wrote The Art of Looking Sideways. Jason says that real inspiration is about recognizing the value and the beauty of everything around you. That is absolutely true, but everything around you does include other websites. ;~)

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My First Real Celebrity Spottings – 10 Years in CSS

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

So I’m sitting here in a SxSW panel with Doug Bowman, Molly Holzschlag, Eric Meyer, and some tool from Microsoft (he just called himself a tool … I’m not just being mean.) He’s actually Chris Wilson, an IE Platform Architect. He seems nice enough, and I’m trying to get over my predetermined hatred of him based on his employment.

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