The meat-death of the universe: SxSW08

SxSW is over for another year, and I’m still recovering from seemingly having eaten the Cloverfield monster, BBQ’d and served with yellow sauce.


I was down to give one talk about ‘supercolliders’ – people who are maestros of social networks, and tried to keep it from being a Dopplr sales pitch as much as possible, but talked about some of the philosophical underpinnings of why we’d chosen some of the directions we had in the design.

Omar Elsayed picked up on this and summed it up more succinctly than I think I did:

“[maybe we’re talking about] two types of social apps: The first class being services where the distribution of information is informed by pre-defined relationships – you receive photos I uploaded because we had previously declared each other as friends. And the second class of services are ones where the flow of information is what defines relationships – we are friends because we regularly send each other photos we?ve uploaded. The general consensus of the panelists was that the first, more ?traditional?, model is proving increasingly ill-suited to support the activities of these extra-social, collision-prone users.”

I really like his formulation there – and also the background tile of his blog. Go look!

There was also doing of science.

Can you put toothpaste back in the tube? on Vimeo

Then I got drafted onto a panel about international cultures of mobile device usage. It was something I had to come at on the hoof, but the conversation flowed pretty freely. However I’m sure that both myself and the audience we wishing I was Jan Chipchase or Younghee

As per usual I managed to miss nearly everything that people said was interesting, including the Steven Johnson / Henry Jenkins and Jane McGonigal keynotes (although I suspect the latter would have been choir-preachin’) – anyway – Dan Hon has awesome notes of eveything I wanted to see.

But – one thing that I think was an interesting trend were the ‘fringe’ mini-conferences that sprang up.

getsatisfaction mini conf

For instance a semi-private one that saw moo, etsy and threadless getting together to share plans and pain; and another open one put on by getsatisfaction for users of their software. Dopplr is starting to really use getsatisfaction more fully for support and product development so this was extremely useful (and great fun)

Nice to see that when the caravanserai hits town, some people are ready to make great, novel uses of it.

Any SxSW tips for a first-time speaker?

Confirmed today that I'm going to be at SxSW Interactive this year, thanks to the kind invitation of Mr. Kevin Cheung.

I'm going to be on a panel talking about design for mobile, which is going to be a little wierd because what I do in the day job generally is help design mobiles themselves, their interaction design frameworks, the GUI and the apps on top – but I haven't really been up in the content layer for a while… Also, generally I'm working on stuff 18 months to 2 years out.

I hope people will be entertained / informed if I talk from that perspective and reach up to the content layer concerns as best I can. I'm not so familiar with SxSW – having only attended once and never spoken. I know a lot of people in my neighbourhood on Vox have – any tips?

P.s. I scored a room in the Hotel San Jose, which was a great place to hang out last time I was there.

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