Great Talks and Great Folks at SXSW, No SouthByScurvy this Year.
M. Jackson Wilkinson, Former Viget
It's become a pilgrimage several of us have taken these last few years, and there's always something worthwhile out of it. South By Southwest Interactive, no longer just a music and film festival, has become the epicenter of the web design world each March, and myself, Samantha, and Keith made the trip to Austin for it this year.
Samantha moderated a very well-received panel of web design and typography luminaries in Web Typography: Quit Bitchin' and Get Your Glyph On. Not only did the panel cover how web designers can make the most of typographic design on the web, given its limitations, but they also covered the emerging discussion about font-linking and the nearly-usable @font-face CSS extension.
I was fortunate enough to talk/moderate a core conversation on Sunday, How MacGyver Would Do Design Research. The format was a little bit like a town hall event, with me introducing a topic and then opening the floor to attendees for contributions to the discussion, and then moving onto another topic. The format may not have been a perfect match for the content or the audience (most attendees seemed to be hoping for more of a talk), but it seemed that most folks found the session valuable. I'll be giving this session as a proper talk at the end of the month at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.
The real challenge of SXSW is the paradox of choice. With so many panels and sessions on every topic, it becomes really difficult to make a firm decision and feel good about it. There were multiple panels that had a solid premise, but disappointed. String a few of those together, and you've missed out on hours or days of great content that you didn't manage to catch. As the conference grows over the years, this problem just gets deeper.
But as every SXSW alum knows, the real value of the event is in the people you encounter at every turn. From breakfast at the hotel, to the moment we arrived back at night, we were catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, many of whose work we've come to respect and admire over the years. Having strangely-prepared hotel eggs while chatting with folks whose work has driven you forward as a web professional is really what makes SXSW worth going to.
I have to steal a moment to give props to my better half and Friend of Ours,Ali Felski for winning the SXSW Web Award for Personal Portfolio. It's a big honor, and it was great to take part in the Web Awards this year, even though it meant missing geek bowling.
Fortunately, none of us contracted South By Scurvy this time around! Austin, I'm sure we'll be seeing each other next year.