Despite my United Airlines snafu, I finally made it to Austin and had a couple productive days at SWSW Interactive (SXSWi). However, I had to leave a little early for an offsite meeting in NY on a rainy Monday morning before the conference officially ended. In fact, the music and film portion of SXSW – the highlight for most attendees – was just gearing up.
On my way to the Austin airport, my cab driver remarked that I was leaving before all the real fun began! Thanks. So, I boarded my plane and started thinking about what he said and had to disagree. I learned a little bit, met some great new people and actually had fun doing it.
Not sure there were any groundbreaking new developments this year, but this was my first SXSW so somewhat hard to judge. Having said that, I felt confident when I walked out of each discussion that I had a strong grasp of the material covered. Wow, sounds like I am in college again.
The first session I attended was entitled “Filching Design: When the Shoe Fits.” I really liked Luke Wroblewski’s (LukeW Interface Designs/Yahoo) presentation who showed various sites with similar designs and polled the audience as to whether they were “filch or fair.”
For example, in April 2007, AOL’s new site looked strangely familiar to Yahoo! users. Yahoo! was filched again (this one by Google is just plain blatant) when they launched a new page promoting Internet Explorer 7. Google has since launched an updated IE7 page. Then, in an amazing twist of irony, blogger Matt Cutts took Google to task over it but it was later pointed out that he failed to credit the author of his own WordPress template design in exchange for use of the free download (btw, thanks again for freshblue, Robbie Williams).
Of course, code can be filched, too. Both desginers and programmers admitted to borrowing from each other and many agreed that the ability to share is one of the reasons for the rapid expansion of the Internet. However, be sure to give credit where it is due.
I have never seen such widespread use of Twitter en masse and in real time as I did at SXSW. Specifically, hundreds of tweets simultaneously dubbed Sarah Lacy’s interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a “train wreck.” I imagine that Twitter chatter and server load reached unprecedented levels that day. Just brutal.
I also witnessed a similar reaction to a panel entitled “Social Marketing Strategies Metrics, Where Are They?” the day before. The session really disappointed – about half walked out midway through. As the Q&A began, many were still asking “Ummm, about these metrics… so where are they?” The audience further responded by coughing loudly, and filling Meebo (the conference provided chatroom) and Twitter with nasty comments. Ynema Mangum (aka “Y”) with BMC Software was the only saving grace. She was the only one who provided an actual case study with tangible results. Unfortunately, it happened just before the end of the session so few people actually saw it.
Speaking of Twitter, my friend Mike told me about a unique tool called Twemes which allows users to categorize user tweets by theme. For example, SXSW created a tweme related to the conference. All one has to do is include “#sxsw” in a specific tweet and it automatically aggregates on the SXSW Twemes page.
This is yet another in a long line Twitter companion sites/apps seeking to augment the microblog’s effectiveness, reach and influence. Among my favorites: Twittervision (real time pop-updates), Twitterific (desktop software), and Twitxr (instant photo sharing). Now, with GeoTwitterous, you can even find out where your Twitter buddies are when they post. (Thanks for the tip, Kristine!)
All in all, a great trip and I really enjoyed meeting/catching up with Fleck, Patrick, Julie, Colin, Kristine, Jim, Andrew, Mike, Chris, Tristan, Rick and everyone else I may have forgotten. Already making my plans for SXSWi 2009!
Amazing conversations and meeting amazing people at SXSW Interactive (Just Write Click)