This is kind of a weird post to start up with after almost a year of silence, but I guess you have to start somewhere.
So here I sit at SXSW. I was all kinds of excited to come after having some great experiences last year. The best being seeing Kathy Sierra talk on Creating Passionate Users, which completely changed my outlook on just about everything.
This year… it seems to be rather blah. Let me step through it…
- A Decade of Style
This is where I really started thinking that I hate the moderated panels. One person asks seemingly random questions, and the rest answer. Questions such as “when did you first encounter CSS”, “why did you stick with it”. How in the heck does this help educate me? What am I really suppposed to learn and take away from such questions? This panel did get to a little bit of good questions at the end like where should we be going, what advances need to be made… but it was too little too late to save the panel for me.
- After the Brief: A field Guide to Design Inspiration
Good stuff. Well thought out presentation that explained where they (Jason Santa Maria and Rob Weychert) go to get their inspiration. Ideas on what I can do to get myself out of the box and come up with new things. Yes!! Teach me!! Get away from the computer… do things manually… do it differently then you normally would. Bring it!!
- Kathy Sierra Opening Remarks
Love Kathy Sierra. This year wasn’t as ground breaking as last year was for me. She did focus in more on a specific subject (making a better help section for users) then the general “creating passionate users” from last year, but it still had a lot of great nuggets. In a nutshell… users going to the help aren’t the happy people we may be targeting. They are frustrated, angry people. So make a section that will address these users needs, not the guy who is just curious about what is going on.
- Grids are Good and How to Design with Them
So so. The logic on how to come up with a grid based on a fixed requirement (in this case the dimensions of an advertisement) was good. Some of the stuff they did with the grid was good. Well prepared, but just not super engaging for me.
Pretty good… for a 101 level chat. This is the panel that made some of us think that they need to have a classification system for each class. Is it a beginner, intermediate or advanced class on the given subject. The descriptions of what will be discussed can be interpreted many different ways. This one did what it said, but at a semi-superficial level. It seems that most classes here are beginner level, which does fit probably 90% of the participants. I just wish I stopped getting sucked into a cool topic, only to find that I’m not going to learn anything new on it.
- Mapping: Where the F#*% Are We Now?
No where close to what I thought it would be. Talked about pie in the sky communication of GPS with Bluetooth and other oddities. So this is the inverse of the above, that I needed to know it was way above my level… and wasn’t going to tell me what I could do cool today. I bailed early on this one, as my eyes were glazing over.
Anyway… that was just the first day. I’m on day 3 now and the same pattern follows… moderated panels can actually suck the life from you. Classes are largely “nerfed” for the majority.
But the people… what about the people?
So SXSW is also supposed to be about the networking. All these A-listers are here, and by all accounts are very approachable. I just don’t know what we’d talk about. Last year I said hey to Shaun Inman, and asked how Mint was going, since I didn’t really know what else to ask. I could see the sigh in his body language, and kidded him about that being the question everyone must ask him about. It’s not them it’s me… I guess I just don’t do the social thing.
So that, on top of the being one of the 25 Mormons here (18 being from our group) and not having a strong desire to go to parties and watch people get drunk… makes the social aspect kind of lame for me.
That being said, I have been having a good time with my group at various meals and just meandering around. We had a blast last night as we set up our own theater and watched Nacho Libre and laughed our heads off. So building a comrodery with the team has definitely been nice.
Hopefully I’ll post more info soon and this will break my silence. I keep wanting to post but never want my lame thought to be the first thing I say. That issue is over and now I can post freely