It’s day three at South by Southwest, and by yesterday at midday, I was already a little weary from all the panels and seminars. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t see some good stuff, because I did. It’s just that there’s only so much sitting still in an overly air-conditioned room for hour after hour that I can do. At lunchtime yesterday, we took off for Threadgills for some down home country cooking, and that helped. The more I see of Austin, the more I like. If it were as walkable a city as New York, I’d almost consider it a place I could feasibly move to one day, maybe.
At any rate, some notes on yesterday’s seminars follow, unordered similarly to my previous report:
- I got to meet Eric Meyer face to face yesterday just before his seminar on “Emergent Semantics,” which was pretty interesting. That title was a euphemism for Micro Formats, a new wrinkle to XHTML markup whose currently most well-publicized implementation is probably the XHTML Friends Network. In spite of the fact that, to my novice eyes, this stuff is essentially a way to replicate high school popularity contests, I think this stuff is really cool and has some real long-term potential.
- Like a dork, it took me a day to realize that the best way to overcome the shortcomings of the conference’s name tags is email and, most awesomely, iChat’s Rendezvous buddy list, which automatically discovers other users on the same network and allows for painless instant messaging. Since everyone here is on the same LAN, and so many of them are running PowerBooks with iChat, I’ve been able to find plenty of people I was looking for purely by name tag. This is the coolest use of Rendezvous I’ve experienced first hand.
- “The New New Economy” was a fun panel on the renewed enthusiasm in technology ventures. To see this one, I passed over “Hi-Fi Design with CSS,” which sounded really interesting but I’ve felt this whole time that I should be attending seminars that emphasize practical business intelligence. Too bad, I wish I could have done both.
- I made the mistake of sitting in on a panel called “Open Source Marketing” yesterday, a discussion of unconventional, digitally-enabled methods of marketing. Not that it was bad — some of it was okay, and some of it was reaching — but I realized too late that it was going to be dominated by Jason Calacanis’ outsized ego. Here’s a guy who seems to thrive on generating animosity. I won’t waste any more time on him.
- I missed Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote, unfortunately, because we arrived a bit late after coming back from lunch, and the room was packed, wall to wall. I was a little disappointed, but I didn’t mind too much the opportunity to spend an hour not trying to absorb more information.
- Finally, we didn’t win either of the categories for which we were nominated in the Web Awards. I won’t pretend I wasn’t a little disappointed, but I’ve still had a great time here, so I don’t mind all that much.