SXSW 2008: The Scramble has Already Begun

M. Jackson Wilkinson, Former Viget

Article Category: #News & Culture

Posted on

South by Southwest Interactive Festival, the largest conference in our industry by population and hype, unofficially kicked off this week with the unveiling of this year's Panel Picker. Those that have been involved in SXSW, or "South By" before know that the conference is four and a half days chock-full of panels, most of which have been elected into the conference by the community. Though the conference itself doesn't begin until March, the scramble for panel positions has now begun. Consequently, the last few days have been characterized by blog posts both asking for your votes as well as discouraging your votes. Predictably, Twitter has been full of folks peddling their panel submissions too. Of course, we here at Viget like to get in on the fun, too. Folks here have made four panel submissions, including:
  • Beyond the iPhone: Embracing the Mobile Context — So now that the iPhone is out, why are organizations still interested in the Mobile Web that was supposed to be killed? Find out why companies are continuing to develop mobile sites, and see how the mobile context can be relevant enough to make the investment pay off.
  • Web Start-Up Mistakes: 10 to Avoid and 5 to Make — A harsh reality of start-ups: mistakes happen. If they don't, you're doing something wrong. Make the wrong ones, and you're certainly sunk. Make the right ones, you just might succeed. I'll give real examples on both sides and offer guidance that will apply to any early-stage web company.
  • Everything a Designer Needs to Know About Rails — This panel of designers and developers will take a 10,000 foot look at Rails' Model-View-Controller pattern, and get a little deeper where designers are most needed: the view. See step-by-step how designers and developers work together to implement a design effectively and efficiently, while maintaining design integrity.
  • How Traditional Businesses Can Leverage [Stuff Like] Social Media — Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and even Blogger might have started out for fun (and for stalking), but for some they've become a real business. Learn how forward-looking companies are using social media and the lessons of Web 2.0 to attract new customers, strengthen relationships, and ultimately improve their bottom line.
If you're interested in them, feel free to toss us a star or five. What I wonder about each year is whether or not it's too soon to be doing this. The web has changed a lot in the last year, and it will change a lot in the seven months left until SXSW. For me, the value of SXSW is talking to people individually, learning what they're doing, and getting energized to bring these new ideas back to Washington with me and get working on new things. The panels, while often interesting, can sometimes be a bit outdated as well. Choosing topics that are either timeless or just on the edge of emergence is probably the key to having a relevant series of panels come March. Among our panel proposals, mine, centered on mobile strategy, may be at the most risk of seeming irrelevant come March, if we've all gotten over the iPhone. However, since my topic is really about the more general (and still emerging) Mobile Web, I can still keep my fingers crossed, and adjust if needed. So if you're going, get voting (nice rhyme) and we'll see you in Austin come March. If you're not planning on going, check out the panel ideas anyway, vote for ours, and see if you're not convinced to make a change of plans.

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