For some weeks, I’ve been working hard to make a spectacular contribution to what I’m sure will be a spectacular discussion panel at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival. It’s called “Traditional Design & New Technology” and it examines the questions of whether and how the aesthetic and functional principles that guided graphic design throughout its pre-Internet existence make sense on the World Wide Web. How do the vastly differing criteria between offline and online media determine what makes for ‘good design’? How has the shifting role of designers affected the expectations that audiences set for design quality? How do changing tools and techniques influence the relevancy of traditional design values?
As far as design topics go, these are some of the thornier ones, at least in my estimation. For this, I have the formidable Mark Boulton to thank — or to blame, as it’s turned out, for all the extracurricular hours we’ve spent preparing for this session. The original brainstorm was his; then he and I did the initial planning together. But the whole affair has come much further than we could have ever hoped thanks to the work of our co-panelists: Jason Santa Maria and Toni Greaves, and our moderator, Liz Danzico.
These people are all very, very impressive, and if I weren’t on this panel, I’d be in the audience just to watch them. For real! I’d even be there at the very early time and date of 10:00a on Saturday morning, 11 March, which just happens to be when “Traditional Design & New Technology” will take place. Yes, that’s the first day and the first time slot in the festival — we’re even on before the opening remarks, if you can believe it. The way I like to look at it: I once went to see Spiritualized open up for The Jesus & Mary Chain in the early nineties: I don’t regret seeing the Mary Chain, but I’m really glad I saw Spiritualized. You’ll be glad too, if you show up for this panel. Hope to see you there.