Too much going on here at South by Southwest for me to compose a fully coherent report of what’s going on. But I’d be guilty of dereliction of geek duties if I didn’t at least post some random notes, so here we go.
- There are more Mac laptops here than I’ve ever seen at a conference whose title didn’t begin with “Macworld” and end in “Expo.” They easily outnumber the Wintel machines, two-to-one (if you want to assign any value to a gross estimate), a weird and somewhat gratifying circumstance.
- The SXSW conference badges, about the size of an index card and worn on a lanyard, are too difficult to read. Lots of people I want to meet for the first time are known to me only through email, so I keep trying to check everyoe’s badges. The names are printed at a reasonable size, but the person’s group affiliation is printed exceedingly small — and in most cases, the most important identifier would be the person’s domain name. My badge reads “Behavior,” but I want to be able to add “Subtraction.com,” to it, too.
- The panels I’ve seen so far have been uneven. I saw Jeffrey Zeldman’s keynote, which was appropriately entertaining if not tremendously insightful. Andy Budd and and Jeremy Keith gave a pretty humorous talk on “Bluffing Your Way in CSS.” At least they were fun.
- I had the most problems with Jason Fried’s talk on “How to Make Big Things Happen with Small Teams.” It confused a series of excellent lessons on how to build software products given limited resources with a methodology for providing services to clients in general. Good stuff mixed up with some questionable advice.
- In fact, that’s a problem I have with many seminars geared towards jump starting creativity, not just here at SXSW but at most conferences: they put forward an ideal of creative circumstance that, while laudable, is frustratingly unrealistic. In a talk given yesterday by Alexander Manu (the title of which is too long-winded to bother repeating here), I heard things like, “Never divide work and play,” and, “Never consider play a task.” All fine and good, but lots of people don’t have the luxury of acting on such advice.