Liz Danzico, Mark Boulton, Toni Greaves, Jason Santa Maria and I have just finished our panel, “Traditional Design and New Technology” here at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival. Frankly, I’m relieved; we spent a lot of time preparing for it, including an endless stream of email exchanges, many outline drafts, international conference calls, and a big, team-building breakfast here in Austin at 7:30a this morning, so there was a lot of build-up. In the end, I think the panel went pretty well — basically, anything that went well is owing to Liz Danzico’s masterful job of moderating the discussion. We had a pretty lively debate and several challenging questions from the audience; the festival management has recorded it, apparently, and will be posting a podcast sometime soon, which I’ll link to when I find it. Anyway, I enjoyed the whole experience quite a lot. If you were in the audience today, first, thanks for attending, and second, I’d be keen to know what you thought. Don’t be shy, I can take it.

  1. To be completely honest, I felt like the technology side of the conversation was not appropriately represented. The conversation, in my opinion, needed some tempering with a voice that didn’t come from a traditional design background. In this way, the technology side of the conversation could have balanced out the opinions of all the panelists. However, maybe I have simply misunderstood the purpose of the conversation. Here’s the thing: I left the room with the feeling that the panelists didn’t really have a firm grip on the technology side of the issue. And I guess this worries me because I thought that was the point.

  2. Definitely a design-focused panel, but based on the background and focus of the presenters, entirely appropriate. I thought it was great that Mark (Boulton) was there to be opinionated and inspire some mildly contentious back-and-forth that made the whole thing that much more interesting.

    I think newspaper design is a great crucible for the kind of transitional challenges you discussed in the panel. On the one hand, in print, newspapers are the bastion of “traditional” design methods, where the conventions are consistent and understood, and all the effort goes into information hierarchy and art direction. On the other hand, on the web, newspapers are often foundering to either force the old models (and the old audience) onto the web, or take advantage of the new models to engage a new audience without cannibalizing the old one.

  3. Khoi, I couldn’t say this until SxSW finished, but I can say it now: This was my absolute favorite session of the entire conference.

    Rather than simply feeding techniques and solutions to the attendees, the panel challenged us to create websites that evoke emotional responses in a way print media can and does on a regular basis.

    I found it both illuminating and inspirational. Please share my sincere gratitude to the whole panel.

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