SXSWi 2010 Sketches and Notes


What did I learn at SXSW Interactive this year? I’ve had a few weeks to think about it, so here are my sketches and notes with some post-conference thoughts and conclusions.

There are lots of great videos at SXSW’s YouTube channel, but the long-tail goldmine is the podcasts of the interactive sessions which are slow to be posted, but which could occupy the entire year catching up on all the great stuff I missed.


To see my sketches and notes by session…

Interactive Infographics

I’m into infographics, as were many SXSWers judging by the turnout to this panel.


  • Caplove: Use designers that HAVEN’T done infographics for a fresh approach
  • Fry
    • start with a question, work back w/data
    • any data that tells a story is interesting data
    • sometimes you have to just get out of the way of interesting data
  • Rodenbeck – Stamen Design
    • likes when an infographic lives on, changes over times as data changes, gives a reason to go back
    • make dry data delightful
    • don’t tell a story, let the data tell a story
    • says infographics are in their infancy… “There will be a Beyonce of charting.”

Valerie Casey Keynote

valerie-caseyValerie Casey’s keynote was interesting and structured, though I’m not sure it all came together. She did make some great points though.

  • The failure is that people just don’t get how important what is going on because they can’t understand what is going on in government.
  • Biomimicry – designers asking nature for new ideas
  • People tent to choose the wrong lever when they’re trying to change things
  • There’s no difference between a structure and the behavior it causes.
  • If you want to change behavior you have to change the structure.
  • There’s a tranquilizing effect when you get 1000 people doing something. Everybody thinks someone else is doing it.
  • The interactive community needs to focus on cultural sustainability.

The thing that caught my attention more than anything she said is Kurt Vonnegut’s thesis infographic plotting the common plots of literature. Most stories fall into one of two plot lines:


And then there’s Kafka:


CMS Communities


I was amazed, watching the CMS Communities panel, at

  • how friendly and cordial the Drupal and Sharepoint folks were to each other; but it shouldn’t surprise me b/c
  • they aren’t really in competition, they serve very disparate crowds.
  • the Drupal community goes to great lengths to stay, flat and unstructured community as opposed to
  • the Sharepoint community which seems to be very hierarchical, relatively rich, and throw lavish parties

The University In The “Free” Era


The University In The “Free” Era was one of my favorites for how right on and revealing it was about higher ed and the trend toward online learning and free resources. Their links and slides are wonderful resources. And here are their slides:

Millionaire or Artist: How About Both?

Hugh MacLeod says, “Nobody fucking cares about your fucking art.” Also, you’ve got to:

  • have killer work ethic, get up early, work like hell
  • start a newsletter
  • love your customers
  • marketing, selling, negotiation is practice

The State of Music Blogs 2010


Blogola = blogs + payola

The music panel said that in spite of all the emphasis on digital savvyness these days, the ideal artist’s main requirments remain:

  1. Make great music
  2. Come through town
  3. Interact with fans

Otherwise, PR 101 goes a long way

  • establish relationships with bloggers
  • personalize email
  • pitch on Twitter or Facebook
  • ask about submission format
  • follow up

Dinosaur to Digital: A Museum Convergence Success Story


  • segment, use of FB and Twitter to promote singles happy hour
  • segment, make parts of site for teachers, classroom based products
  • downloadable mp3 tours (iphone app idea)
  • website getting narrower as content is pushed via devices to contexts
  • tablets, more than phones, present educational opportunities
  • connect through tangential transactions involving the subjects of your content
  • you can’t pitch them (board, scientists) interactivity, you have to show them

Beyond Algorithms: Search and the Semantic Web


The Problem

  • Semantic Web: What is it? Not a consumer term
  • How browsable is the Web? A lot unrepresented
  • Computers can now understand and solve real problems
  • The technology is the for much better results
  • Search engines are finding haystacks not needles

The Next Phase

  • presentation and aggregation
  • getting out of the search box
  • complex contextual problems
  • personalization, computer “knows me”
  • realtime Web of things

Visual Note-Taking 101


Evan Williams Keynote

This sucked. The interviewer was glib and had his own agenda. Left early with the exodus.


My big five takeaways:

  1. Draw big to little, head last.
  2. “There will be a Beyonce of charting.”
  3. Make great stuff, be accessible and PR 101 will go a long way.
  4. There are currently 150,000 MBAs enrolled at the U of Phoenix (online degree).
  5. Experiment with contextual content delivery across devices.

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I'm j and I play: musician, web guy, family man.

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