This post comes a bit late, but I wanted to recap my experience at SXSW Interactive 2007. I decided to diverge from the typical college spring break plan and headed out to Austin, TX for the 4-day conference covering topics such as web design, usability, blogging, and other technology.
Some of the panels and parties that I enjoyed the most:
- After the Brief: A Field Guide to Design Inspiration. It was great to see some examples of inspiration for designers Jason Santa Maria and Rob Weychert of Happy Cog Studios
- Grids Are Good and How to Design with Them. Very insightful and practical presentation about using grids in design from Mark Boulton and Khoi Vinh of Subtraction
- From Tags to Riches: Life After Code.
- Keynote Conversation: Limor Fried / Phil Torrone. They’re from MAKE, what else do I need to say? It was also good to see Bre Pettis of Make Magazine again.
- Avalonstar Bowling Tournament. Thanks Bryan Veloso, this was definitely one of my favorite parts about SXSW. Competition+meeting others in a fun environment was a great experience. My team, Team Pin Monkeys, came in 2nd place overall, after nearly losing to the guys from Clearleft.
- Barenaked App: The Figures Behind the Top Web Apps. Many thanks to the founders of Freshbooks, Dropsend, and others who were willing to share exact figures in terms of development costs, gross revenue, etc for several popular web apps. I was especially shocked to see the high monthly maintenance costs of these apps – very insightful.
- The Growth and Evolution of Microformats.
- Godbit Dinner. Great to finally meet Nathan Smith and several other great people and had some really good conversations.
- Web Typography Sucks. Another great presentation on the current state of web typography. I learned a lot in terms of letter spacing, line height, fonts, special characters, alignment, and more.
All in all, I had a great experience. While I expected to go to SXSW to learn a lot (and I did), I quickly figured out that it wasn’t really just about that. As Richard pointed out, it’s more about meeting people. No other place (arguably besides in Silicon Valley) can you find so many enthusiastic and talented designers and programmers. I was able to just go up and introduce myself to well-known designers and bloggers, and they were always completely approachable and humble. Being in this kind of environment definitely caused me to think about the web design and developing web apps in a different way. SXSWi: highly recommended.