SXSW, Recap

— Topic: Conferences

Well, I have made it safely from Austin back to good ol’ Boise. I had a great time, and got to meet all the guys / gals at our Godbit dinner. I just wanted to summarize the last few days spent at SXSW Interactive. I wanted to highlight a few of my other favorite panels / sessions, that I didn’t really have enough time to talk about at length in my previous post. I’ll keep this brief, because there are already so many others blogging their Austin experiences.

Web 2.1

Making Web 2.0 Accessible: This was a great panel done by Faruk Ates, Derek Featherstone, Shawn Henry, James Craig and Matt Vande Voorde. The focus was to swing the pendulum back towards user centered functionality, and shift the focus from simply having cool Ajax effects. Shawn said it best, advising people to focus less on the letter of the law, and more on the spirit of making things accessible. Basically, she was saying that if all we do is trick the automated validators, we’re not actually helping real people – good point.

Standard Deviation

This panel was originally entitled “F__ Standards,” but was toned down a bit by the conference. It was led by Glenda Bautista, Aaron Boodman, Kevin Gibbs, Johnnie Manzari and Sergio Villarreal. Some of the topics covered were Gmail chat, and how by using non-standard server push methods, it provided a more smooth user experience than relying on standard, but largely unsupported methods. Another practical example was vertical centering of content, for instance on a splash page. As of yet, CSS cannot do this without a series of hacks, whereas a single cell table can with vertical-align.

Web Standards Task Force

This panel consisted of many web veterans of the WaSP – Steven Champeon, Matt May, Drew McLellan, Dori Smith, Jennifer Taylor, Chris Wilson, Kimberly Blessing and Molly Holzschlag. Their areas of standards expertise range from being on the Adobe / Macromedia Dreamweaver team, all the way to working for Microsoft. They basically had a very open and candid conversation about the adoption of web standards by browser makers. They talked about some of the upcoming hopes for the next acid test, as the Acid2 test is somewhat biased towards certain browsers. They also covered some hopes for IE7.

Dogma Free Design

This was a good discussion about getting past numerical measures of good design, and back to the basics of producing things that make sense to the end-user. They held up a laundry list of “rules” for the new Web 2.0, and then tore it up. My personal favorite was “It must use Ajax.” The panel was headed by Kelly Goto, Luke Wroblewski, Dirk Knemeyer and Joel Grossman. They talked about the importance of having objective litmus tests for large businesses, but also emphasized that once you are familiar with the process, it becomes second nature. For instance, wireframes are good to a certain extent, but if you’re a usability expert, you can just design in your head.

Serendipities

I also learned some random things while I was there. Here are but a few of the tidbits I hadn’t anticipated: The meaning of Kaizen, from Faruk. Ryan Brill rocks at bowling, Mike Rundle does not. Blue Flavor guys have their own bowling shirts. Avalonstar won best blog, 9rules won best community. Garrett is really tall; so are Jaredigital and Erik Sagen. Snook is better than me at pool, and so is Featherstone. Forty Media and 30 Second Rule people love shuffleboard. Alex Giron reads Godbit RSS and vice-versa. Joshua Lane of Pixelworthy has pink hair. Everyone has business cards and Apple laptops.


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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are mine alone, and are not necessarily shared by any other living person.