When I finally met Hugh Forrest for the first time in Austin this past week, I told him I keep thinking each year that SXSW is the biggest it can possibly get. That there’s no way the following year can top the previous year in terms of the talent he pulls in for speakers, and the amount of interesting people attending who are so open and receptive to new ideas. Each time I’ve been wrong.
Last year’s thinking and this year’s festival was no exception. As the plans started to come together for this year’s event, it was obvious there were going to be lots of people converging in Austin from all over the globe. Friends from previous years returning again. And people I’ve gotten to know virtually over the past year whom I was looking forward to finally meeting in person.
This year’s audience saw a redux of our “HiFi Design with CSS” panel moderated by Christopher Schmitt. Despite the fact that we each prepared separately, the topics we each covered and the order in which we each presented (Molly, Dan, Dave, ending with me) appeared to be a highly-coordinated logical progression through the story of design and CSS.
In last year’s panel on “CSS, the good, the bad, and the ugly,” I went over my alloted time, and had to stop my presentation before getting to the concept of Double Rollovers used for the Adaptive Path partner photos. I’ve used that same technique in several other places since then. Because it can be used for changing more than just two objects on mouseover at a time, I renamed the technique Remote Rollovers. For the first few minutes, I walked through how it works, and reviewed a few examples of its use. A companion article is already in the works which reviews the same examples and provides more detail on implementing the technique.
The second panel I sat on, “Web Design 2010,” produced lots of conversation and thought on where we might be in five years or more. Each of us on the panel (John, Dave, Jon, Eris, and me) had lots of opinions on what the web might look like five years from now, and what technologies we might be using. Some of the most interesting discussion to me (both before and during our panel) centered around the sociological implications of change on the web, how change will come about, how we’ll interact with the web and other people because of the web, and how and what we’ll be designing in the future. Many of our pre-panel and mid-panel notes are available in a Future of Web Design blog we started a few weeks before heading to Austin. Comments and discussion on that blog are now open to anyone.
Finally, my wrap-up wouldn’t be complete without pointing to a few of the photos I captured for SXSW Interactive 2005. I didn’t shoot as many as I would have liked, simply because I was caught up in so many good conversations and having too much fun to remember to pull the camera out of my pocket.
As the photos show, from my perspective, SXSW is definitely about people. The people who speak and present their ideas, the people who attend, the people who ask provocative questions and challenge the panelists, the people with whom you get to spend an hour or two eating around a large table, discussing everything relevant to our worlds. It was a pleasure to spend time with so many friends this year, and to make acquaintances with quite a few new faces as well. I’m already looking forward to next year. Except that this time, I don’t think I’ll underestimate how big SXSW 2006 might be.