SXSW this year was bigger than the last, but talking to people that have been going for several years the fact it is getting bigger isn't stopping it being fun. The main thing I noticed that had changed for this year was that there was the addition of half an hour panels on every day. Overall I felt this was not best use of the time. Every half an hour panel either felt rushed or lacking in content and I would personally prefer to these sessions revert back to a full hour if possible.
The panels I saw this year were really good on the whole though I did come away from a few thinking there's nothing new here, or that the content was lacking in some way. "Web Typography sucks" by Richard Rutter and Mark Boulton was the best presentation I saw this year. The content was great, the presentation was very professional and the subject is fascinating because it's not an area I know anything about. Also because typography is rule-based it's possible to take away some real information that you can practically start to implement right away. I found there's often a reliance on "fluffy", "woolly" and "conceptual" material at some of these panels and whilst there's nothing wrong with that I do like a panel where I can come away with some really useful pointers.
The other panel I really liked was the one about the "Blogging where speech isn't free", I found it really interesting hearing about bloggers who put themselves at risk in order to speak out against political regimes or certain situations. It was also good to see there are several organisations working really hard to help these people get their message out whilst helping them to minimise the chances of getting caught.
The Social South ByThe parties this year were top notch. Meeting up with old friends was nice as well as meeting up with plenty of new faces. I found this year was all round more relaxed and as a I result I think I enjoyed myself every bit as much as last year if not more. I think this applied well the panels as well, if you get all hung up on which panel you should be at, it becomes stressful. Just wandering around you could just end up finding something really new or different and as a result you might get more out of that than something you already know something about.
I think one of the things that you get a lot out of at SXSW is the social aspect, and I know I always enjoy talking to fellow geeks about stuff we all do. I recently went out with a bunch of non-geeks for a meal post South by, and I found it almost hard to find something to talk about as I spent the whole time consciously trying not to bore them to death! I think we all need to bear this in mind when we talk to our loved ones about the stuff that we love, as I know my missus is brilliant at being interested in what I do, but sometimes she gets lost (This is what she told me I didn't just make this up!).
In summarySouth by South West rocked and I loved every minute, and unless something comes up I will definitely be there next year as this really is the highlight of the web conferencing calendar for me. I think particularly as it it is very different to the others and that's what makes it so good. Thanks to everyone I met for making it such a blast. Bring on SXSWi 2008.
- My SXSWi highlights on Flickr.com
- The SXSWi Podcasts for the panels that you missed
- SXSWi07 on Technorati
My Panel notes
- SXSWi 07 Notes: WaSP Annual Meeting Takin’ it to the street
- SXSWi 07 Notes: The Growth and Evolution of Microformats
- SXSWi 07 Notes:Ajax Kung Fu Meets Accessibility Feng Shui
- SXSWi 07 Notes: Uniting the Holy Trinity of Web Design
- SXSWi 07 Notes: Antisocial Networking, Dealing With Online Abuse
- SXSWi 07 Notes: Blogging Where Speech Isn’t Free
- SXSWi 07 Notes: Mapping: Where the F#*% Are We Now?
- SXSWi 07 Notes: Web Hacks: Good or Evil
- SXSWi 07 Notes: The influence of Art in Design
- SXSWi 07 Notes: Writing Better
- SXSW07 and the Texas State Capitol