Tags: sxsw




The first time I went to South by Southwest in 2005 it was an amazing experience (this was before it grew so massively large that its gravity well sucked in all the social media marketing biz dudes in the universe):

I’ve never met so many wonderful people gathered together in one place. It was tribal in the true sense of the word (that would be the cool, fun-loving sense as opposed to the hippy-dippy sense).

There was a great sense of openness and sharing. In a way, it was like the web made flesh—a terrific community of enthusiastic people eager and willing to share their knowledge and experience.

Towards the end of the week, there was the annual web awards show. Everything else about South by Southwest had been so great, I figured I’d go along to that too. Also, someone I know had been nominated for an award.

It was like stepping into opposite-web. The mood switched from one of sharing and openness to one of basically not giving a shit. Everyone in the room was there because either they or someone they knew had been nominated for an award, and that’s all they cared about. Everything before and after that point in the awards ceremony was irrelevant.

In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. If the point of the web and community gatherings—like the SxSW of yore—is for individuals to be subsumed into a larger group that is greater than the sum of its parts, then the whole point of an awards ceremony is to do the exact opposite: to single out some individuals in the group.

I made the mistake of going back to the Southby awards ceremony a year or two later, simply because Ze Frank was presenting it. “How bad could it be?” I thought. But even the inimitable Ze couldn’t save the day.

Every so often, some smart, talented web designers will bemoan the lack of recognition afforded to their craft, industry, work. They wish for the same level of respect that architects or film-makers get, or for the iconic status given to the best of the advertising world’s output in decades past.

Be careful what you wish for, I say. Not only are these the same industries that are rife with horrible business practices like spec work, they are notoriously unfair when it comes to praising individual achievement over the efforts of the group. Worst of all, the proliferation of high-profile awards leads to the practice of producing “award-winning work” i.e. work designed purely to win awards.

I’ve spoken before about the spirit of the web; how I believe certain design principles have influenced the creation and growth of the web. I see that same spirit imbued in online communities and tools like Github. I don’t see that same spirit in the awarding of prizes.


In 2005 I went to South by Southwest for the first time. It was quite an experience. Not only did I get to meet lots of people with whom I had previously only interacted with online, but I also got to meet lots of lots of new people. Many of my strongest friendships today started in Austin that year.

Back before it got completely unmanageable, Southby was a great opportunity to mix up planned gatherings with serendipitous encounters. Lunchtime, for example, was often a chaotic event filled with happenstance: you could try to organise a small group to go to a specific place, but it would inevitably spiral into a much larger group going to wherever could seat that many people.

One lunchtime I found myself sitting next to a very nice gentleman and we got on to the subject of network theory. Back then I was very obsessed with small-world networks, the strength of weak ties, and all that stuff. I’m still obsessed with all that stuff today, but I managed to exorcise a lot my thoughts when I gave my 2008 dConstruct talk, The System Of The World. After giving that magnum opus, I felt like I had got a lot of network-related stuff off my chest (and off my brain).

Anyway, back in 2005 I was still voraciously reading books on the subject and I remember recommending a book to that nice man at that lunchtime gathering. I can’t even remember which book it was now—maybe Nexus by Mark Buchanan or Critical Mass by Philip Ball. In any case, I remember this guy making a note of the book for future reference.

It was only later that I realised that that “guy” was David Isenberg. Yes, that David Isenberg, author of the seminal Rise of the Stupid Network, one of the most important papers ever published about telecommunications networks in the twentieth century (you can watch—and huffduff—a talk he gave called Who will run the Internet? at the Oxford Internet Institute a few years back).

I was reminded of that lunchtime encounter from seven years ago when I was putting together a readlist of visionary articles today. The list contains:

  1. As We May Think by Vannevar Bush
  2. Information Management: A Proposal by Tim Berners-Lee (vague but exciting!)
  3. Rise of the Stupid Network by David Isenberg
  4. There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom by Richard Feynman
  5. The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era by Vernor Vinge

There are others that should be included on that list but there’s are the ones I could find in plain text or HTML rather than PDF.

Feel free to download the epub file of those five articles together and catch up on some technology history on your Kindle, iPad, iPhone or other device of your choosing.

Sharing pattern libraries

I’ve been huffduffing talks from this year’s South by Southwest, revisiting some of the ones I saw and catching up with some of the ones I missed.

There are some really design and development resources in there that I didn’t get to see in person:

One talk I did get to see was Andy’s CSS for Grown Ups: Maturing Best Practices.

CSS for Grown Ups: Maturing Best Practices on Huffduffer

It was excellent.

You can have a look through the slides.

He talks about different approaches to creating maintainable CSS for large-scale projects. He touches on naming conventions for classes, something that Nicolas Gallagher wrote about recently. And while he makes reference to SASS and Compass, Andy makes the compelling point that’s what more interesting than powerful tools is the arrival of powerful approaches like SMACSS and OOCSS.

Over and over again, Andy makes the point that we must think in terms of creating design systems, not simply styling individual pages—something that Paul has also spoken about. One of the most powerful tools for making that change in thinking is in the creation of style guides for the web and Paul has even created blog dedicated to the BBC’s style guide.

Andy referenced the BBC GEL style guide in his talk but pointed out that because it’s published as a PDF rather than markup, it isn’t as powerful as it could be—there’s inevitably a loss of signal when the patterns are translated into HTML and CSS. Someone from the BBC was in the audience, and in the Q and A portion, acknowledged that that was a really good point.

After the talk I got chatting with Lincoln Mongillo who worked on the recent responsive redesign of Starbucks.com. He mentioned that they created a markup and CSS style guide for the project. “You know what would be really cool?” I said. “If you published it!”

Here it is. It’s a comprehensive library of markup patterns; exactly the kind of resource that Anna wrote about in 24 Ways.

In my experience, creating a pattern library for any project is immensely valuable, whether you’re working in a team of two or a team of two hundred. I’ve found they work well as the next step after Style Tiles: a way of translating the visual vocabulary of a site into markup and CSS without getting bogged down in the specifics of page structure or layout (very handy for a Content First approach). The modularity of a pattern library enforces a healthy .

I’m really pleased to see more and more pattern libraries being made public. That’s one of the reasons why I shared my pattern primer and Dan shared his Pears theme for Wordpress:

Breaking interfaces down into patterns has been immensely helpful in learning and re-evaluating the best possible code to implement them.

But Pears isn’t about how I code these patterns—it’s a tool for creating your own.

I love that. These style guides and pattern libraries aren’t being published in an attempt to provide ready-made solutions—every project should have its own distinct pattern library. Instead, these pattern libraries are being published in a spirit of openness and sharing …a way of saying “Hey, this is what worked for us in these particular circumstances.”

For that, I am very grateful.

The Southby and the Southby

If attending a web conference is like going to a concert, South by Southwest in Austin is like Glastonbury: a massive multi-track event where the people on stage aren’t as important as tracking down the friends you know are somewhere in the crowd.

An incredible amount of work goes into the event. When Jessica and I showed up in Austin last Thursday evening and headed straight to The Wholly Cow for a burger, there was a group of Southby volunteers at the next table, planning the next day’s activities like soldiers on the eve of battle. Make no mistake, South by Southwest is a triumph of planning and execution on a scale I can’t even begin to comprehend. I’m always amazed when I see Hugh wandering about looking cool as a cucumber—I’d be freaking out if it were me.

The interaction portion of South by Southwest has been getting bigger with each passing year. For a while this was a source of pride, then nervousness, and now …well, now it has become something quite different to what it once was. It’s not simply that the crowd is larger; the crowd is different.

Where once the core audience was made up of web-loving geeks, now the overwhelming majority of attendees are there to hawk their product/app/start-up by whatever means necessary. I tried to take a live-and-let-live attitude with those people, but it’s hard for me to maintain that attitude when I find them actively repulsive. I mean, honestly, it was like wading through a sea of spam.

I was chatting with Aaron in Austin airport afterwards and he said he was trying to take a City And The City approach to unseeing the douchebag world, but that’s difficult when they keep breaching by thrusting flyers and schwag into your face when you’re just trying to get into the Austin Convention Center (though you could potentially spend the entire event without ever entering that building, what with the panels spread out amongst many venues across town).

I did attend some great panels at South by Southwest, and I did have a great time meeting up with old friends and making new ones. But I felt like I had to work quite hard at it this year. I had a constant feeling of FOMO from all the talks I was missing and there were lots of friends who were also at the event that I didn’t even see once the whole time. So if you weren’t in Austin and you were watching from afar via Twitter, don’t worry: even the people who were at South by Southwest weren’t at South by Southwest.

Evan had a similar experience and I think he’s right about why there are so many desperate marketers showing up:

I think that’s largely Twitter’s fault; the company’s breakout at SxSW 2007 has made success at the event a Philosopher’s Stone for startups world-wide. Unfortunately, most of these folks have missed the subtle fact that Twitter wasn’t successful because it was at SxSW, but because it was useful and interesting to the kind of people who go to South by Southwest. The same goes for other South By success stories: Foursquare, Lanyrd. In other words: if you don’t appeal to that audience, dropping a trillion-dollar marketing bomb on downtown Austin for a week in March won’t make you Twitter. It’ll just make you poorer.

To be honest, I’m not sure I can justify another trip to South by Southwest if it means paying for an overpriced hotel room and wading through all the Conference Center crap to find the gems hidden within. But Evan points out the problem with simply giving up on the event:

South by Southwest has been a huge boon to the technology community. It deserves a better response than a sniffy adieu.

He’s right …but I’m not sure there’s anything that the event organisers (or the subset of attendees who aren’t meatspace spammers) can do about it. South by Southwest has become an unstoppable juggernaut.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Austin to be born?

Y’know, I’m okay with South by Southwest being a different kind of event now than it once was. I’m glad that it’s successful. And it’s not like there aren’t plenty of other excellent events for web geeks.

If I don’t end up returning to South by Southwest, I’d definitely miss it. And I would definitely miss Austin. I’m looking forward to going back to that most excellent town for An Event Apart in July—it will be my first time being there when it’s not South by Southwest.

An Event Apart, by the way, had an excellent one-page advert running on the back cover of the chunky South by Southwest printed program. It simply said: One Track.

South by CSS

South by Southwest has become a vast, sprawling festival with a preponderance of panels pitched at marketers, start-ups and people that use the words “social media” in their job title without irony. But there were also some great design and development talks if you looked for them.

Samantha gave a presentation on style tiles, which I unfortunately missed but I’ll be eagerly awaiting the release of the audio. I also missed some good meaty JavaScript talks but I did manage to make it along to Jen’s excellent introduction to HTML5 APIs.

Andy’s talk on CSS best practices was one of the best presentations I’ve ever seen. He did a fantastic job of tackling some really important topics. It’s a presentation (and a presenter) that deserves a wider audience, so if you’re involved in putting together the line-up for any front-end conferences, I highly recommend that you nab him.

Divya put together an absolutely killer panel called CSS.next, all about how CSS gets specced and shipped, and what’s coming down the line. All of the panelists were smart, articulate, and well-informed. The panel was very enlightening, as well as being thoroughly enjoyable.

And then there was the Browser Wars panel.

This is something of a SXSW tradition. Arun assembles a line-up of representatives from browser makers—Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, and Opera—and then peppers them with some hardball questions. Apple is invited to send a representative every year, and every year, Apple declines.

There was no shortage of contentious topics this year. The subject of Google Dart was raised (“Good luck with that,” said Brendan). There was also plenty of discussion about the recent DRM proposal submitted to the HTML working group. There was a disturbing level of agreement amongst all the panelists that some form of DRM for video was needed because, hey, that’s just the way things go…

As an aside, I must say I found the lack of imagination on display to be pretty disheartening. Two years ago, Chris was on the Browser Wars panel representing Microsoft, defending the EOT format because, hey, that’s just the way things go. Without some form of DRM, he argued, we couldn’t have fonts on the web. Well, the web found a way. Now Chris is representing Google but the argument remains the same. DRM, so the argument goes, is the only way we’ll get video on the web because that’s what the “rights holders” demand. And yet, if you are a photographer, no such special consideration is afforded to you. The img element has no DRM and people are managing just fine, thank you. Video, apparently, is a special case …just like fonts. ahem


The subject of vendor prefixes also came up. Specifically, the looming prospect of non-webkit browsers parsing -webkit prefixed properties was raised.

I saw a pattern amongst all three subjects: the DRM proposal, Dart, and browsers implementing another browser’s vendor prefix. All three proposals were made to address a genuine problem. The proposals all suffer from varying degrees of batshit craziness but they certainly galvanised a lot of discussion.

For example, Brendan said that while Google Dart may not stand a hope in hell of supplanting JavaScript, some of the ideas it contains may well end up influencing the development of ECMAScript.

Similarly, Mozilla’s plan for vendor-prefixing certainly caused all parties to admit the problem: the W3C was moving too slow; Apple should have submitted proprietary properties for standardisation sooner; Mozilla, Microsoft, and Opera should have been innovating faster; and web developers should have been treating vendor-prefixed properties as experimental features, not stable parts of a spec.

So the proposal to do something batshit crazy and implement -webkit-prefixed CSS properties has actually had some very positive effects …but there’s no reason to actually go ahead and do it!

I tried to make this point during the audience participation part of the panel, but it was like banging my head against a brick wall. Chaals kept repeating the problem case, but I wasn’t disputing the problem; I was trying to point out that the proposed solution wouldn’t fix the problem.

It was a classic case of the same kind of thinking we saw in the SOPA proposal:

  1. Something must be done!
  2. Implementing -webkit prefixes is something.
  3. Something has been done.

The problem is that it won’t work. Adding “like Webkit” to the user-agent string will probably have much more of an effect and frankly, I don’t care if any of the browsers do that. At this point, a little bit more pissing into the bloated cesspool of user-agent strings is hardly going to matter. A browser’s user-agent string isn’t an identifier, it’s a reverse-chronological history of the web. Why not update the history booklet to include the current predilection amongst developers for Webkit browsers on mobile?

But implementing -webkit vendor prefixes? Pointless! If a developer is only building and testing their sites for one class of device or browser, simply implementing that browser’s prefixed CSS is just putting a band aid on a decapitation.

So I was kind of hoping that Mozilla would just come right out and say that maybe they wouldn’t actually go ahead and do this but hey, look at all the great discussion it generated (just like Dart, just like the DRM proposal). But sadly, no. Brendan categorically stated that the proposal was not presented in order to foment discussion. And in follow-up tweets, he wrote that he actually expected it to level the mobile browser playing field. That’s an admirably optimistic viewpoint but it’s sadly self-delusional.

And what will happen when implementing -webkit prefixes fails to level the playing field? We’ll be left with deliberately broken browsers.

Once something ships in a browser, it’s very, very hard to ever remove it. During the Dart discussion, Chris talked about the possibility of removing Dart from Chrome if developers don’t take to it. Turning to the Microsoft representative he asked rhetorically, “I mean, do you guys still ship VBScript?”

The answer?


Space by Botwest

I had a whole day of good talks yesterday at South By Southwest yesterday …and none of them were in the Austin Convention Center. In a very real sense, the good stuff at this event is getting pushed to the periphery.

The day started off in the Driskill Hotel with the New Aesthetic panel that James assembled. It was great, like a mini-conference packed into one hour with wonderfully dense knowledge bombs lobbed from all concerned. Joanne McNeil gave us the literary background, Ben searched for meaning (and humour) in advertising trends, Russell looked at how machines are changing what we read and write, and Aaron …um, talked about the helium-balloon predator drone in the corner of the room.

With our brains primed for the intersections where humans and machines meet, it wasn’t hard to keep pattern-matching for it. In fact, the panel right afterwards on technology and fashion was filled with wonderful wearable expressions of the New Aesthetic.

Alas, I wasn’t able to attend that panel because I had to get to the green room to prepare for my own appearance on Get Excited and Make Things With Science with Ariel and Matt. It was a lot of fun and it was a real pleasure to be on a panel with such smart people.

I basically used the panel as an opportunity to geek out about some of my favourite science-related hacks and websites:

After that I stayed in the Driskill for a panel on robots and AI. One of the panelists was Bina48.

I heard had heard about Bina48 from a Radiolab episode.

Radiolab - Talking to Machines on Huffduffer

Jon Ronson described the strange experience of interviewing her—how the questions always tended to the profound and meaningful rather than trivial and chatty. Sure enough, once Bina was (literally) unveiled on the panel—a move that was wisely left till halfway through because, as the panelists said, “after that, you’re not going to pay attention to a word we say”—people started asking questions like “Do you dream?” and “What is the meaning of life?”

I asked her “Where were you before you were here?” She calmly answered that she was made in Texas. The New Aesthetic panelists would’ve loved her.

I was surprised by how much discussion of digital preservation there was on the robots/AI panel. Then again, the panel was hosted by a researcher from The Digital Beyond.

Bina48’s personality is based on the mind file of a real person containing exactly the kind of data that we are publishing every day to third-party sites. The question of what happens to that data was the subject of the final panel I attended, Saying Goodbye to Your Digital Self, featuring representatives from The Internet Archive, Archive Team, and Google’s Data Liberation Front.

Digital preservation is an incredibly important topic—one close to my heart—but the panel (in the Omni hotel) was, alas, sparsely attended.

Like I said, at this year’s South by Southwest, a lot of the good stuff was at the edges.


I’m enjoying a nice little break between conferences. I’m taking it easy with my in-laws in the warm climes of Saint Augustine, Florida where I’ve been spending my time soaking up the sun and gently freaking out about my upcoming talk at An Event Apart in Seattle.

This downtime has finally given me the chance to catch up with hundreds of unread emails from the WHATWG and W3C HTML mailing lists. I may even attempt to catch up on my RSS feeds.

This break comes at the just the right time after all the hustle and bustle of South by Southwest. I’m not the only one reflecting on this year’s event. The general consensus from just about everyone is that they had a great time, even if opinion is divided on the value of the conference portion.

Aleks writes in the Guardian:

SxSWi is in danger of growing too big for its britches.

Paul also bemoans the expansion of the conference but even he, curmudgeon extraordinaire that he is, cannot deny having a grand ol’ time as he writes in The Worst SXSW Ever Was My Best SXSW Ever:

Whilst the key reason for visiting SXSW remains being able to meet up with so many people at the same time, the diminishing quality of topics and sessions means its harder to justify the price of a ticket.

That’s a trend that Andy noticed as well, though he too had a great time:

This year I finally gave up on the conference itself, going to a handful of sessions. I met many more who hadn’t seen a single session and several who didn’t even bother buying a ticket. Instead people spent time seeing friends and maintaining the weak ties in their social graph. I say that somewhat wryly, but SXSW really has become about networking in the most real and genuine sense of the word.

John takes up this point and writes of The Evolution of SXSW Interactive:

I had a great time, once again, but only in the sense that Austin is a fine city and you can’t help but have fun hanging out with good friends from across the country (and globe) whom you see in person only rarely. The conference itself, though, is a mess.

That’s a bit harsh but then again, I’m fortunate enough to go to plenty of conferences so I don’t have great expectations for the sessions at Southby. If it were the only conference I was attending, I’d probably want to get more obvious benefit from the presentations—Jessica noticed that even the good talks she saw still suffered from being somewhat superficial, lacking a real “deep dive” into the subject matter.

That said, I made some pretty good choices and wound up at some excellent panels. On the whole I was trying to avoid panels directly related to work so I was sure to check out the superb Made It So: Interface Makers in Movies featuring Mark Coleran and other stalwarts of cinematic sci-fi. But I felt duty-bound to attend panels on HTML5 and microformats—they may as well have been titled The Politics Behind HTML5, Jeremy, The Future of Microformats, Jeremy and Browser Wars IV, Jeremy.

Good thing they turned out to be highly entertaining. In particular, Arun’s moderation of the annual Browser Wars panel was a joy to behold. I didn’t need to rush the stage or grab the mic or anything—Arun took care of asking all the tricky questions without mercy. And let’s not forget the brilliance of Jeffrey Zeldman’s Awesome Internet Design Panel, made all the more wonderful by the zinging wit of Mandy’s one-liners.

Still, I can totally understand why quite a few people chose to come to Austin but not attend the conference itself. The conference part definitely plays second fiddle to the social aspect. Josh sums it up nicely when he writes:

I don’t know what the future holds for this conference, but I am thankful for the opportunity to deepen old friendships and create brand new ones, all while geeking out and wandering around the beautiful city of Austin.

South by south met

South by Southwest Interactive is over for another year. Contrary to some of my expectations, it was quite wonderful.

Yes, there were plenty of social media marketing douchebags thrusting schwag and spouting pitches, but there were also shedloads of enthusiastic friendly geeks eager to hang out and share ideas.

Knowing how big the event had grown, I thought I might have trouble seeing all my friends, but I was pleasantly surprised. Instead of running around in a mad dash to see everything and meet everyone, I took things nice’n’slow and ended up meeting up with everyone anyway.

Southby is a great opportunity for me to meet up with peers that I haven’t seen in a year, but it’s an even greater opportunity to meet with new people. This year I met some of my idols in Austin, like David Baron and Fantasai from the CSS Working Group—the unsung heroes of web standards.

I also met the Jason Scott: head of Archive Team and custodian of Sockington the cat. We got together and geeked out about digital preservation with inevitable anger and vehemence when discussing the fate of Geocities or the current plan by the BBC, the technical term for which is “a dick move.”

I highly recommend that you set aside twenty minutes to listen to Jason’s talk from the Personal Digital Conference. It will entertain and energise you.

The Spendiferous Story of Archive Team on Huffduffer

Managing Southby

I was somewhat trepidatious about coming to South by Southwest this year. It’s big. Really, really big. It was already quite big last year and it was kind of hard to see everyone so I assumed that this year the problem would be exacerbated.

I have been pleasantly surprised. On the first day alone I met so many friends I was hoping to see over the course of the whole event. This makes me very, very happy. I’m also meeting lots of new people. This too makes me very, very happy. The excellent weather and delicious food of Austin, Texas is also making me very, very happy.

So far I’ve been pretty fortunate in my choice of panels and presentations. I’m generally avoiding HTML/CSS/JavaScript talks and going for material that’s only tangentially related to my work. To that end, I’ve enjoyed presentations on cargo containers, mad science secrets of DARPA and the influence of science fiction on cities.

Finding and managing SxSW presentations can be a chore. The official panel picker is pretty bad—an event site without microformats is just broken. Taylor’s project, Sched, is a much better substitute.

Figuring out which presentations to go to has been a whole lot easier this year. It’s all thanks to Lanyrd, which has a dedicated sub-site just for Southby. Putting a schedule together has been a breeze and getting my calendar into iCal onto my iPod is nice and straightforward. The grid view is particularly handy for making panel choices; a distant location can make or break the decision.

For such a well-thought out and executed service, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Lanyrd has a team of team working on it. But the team behind every single part of Lanyrd is just two people: Simon and Nat. The site would be an impressive achievement anyway but it’s quite amazing when you know that it’s the work of just two people—admittedly two of the most talented and hard-working people I know.

American Odyssey

I’ve been back in Brighton for just a couple of days and now I’m about to embark on a fairly lengthy trip away to the States.

Tomorrow I’m flying to a somewhat chilly Chicago. I’ve only been there once before, but I absolutely loved it. The architecture! The hot dogs! Cheeseborger! Cheeseborger! Cheeseborger!

I’m going there for Drupalcon. I’ll be leading an HTML5 workshop on Monday. I’d love to try to Abe Froman my way into the Web Science Workshop the day before, but I’ll probably be too busy finding somewhere to print off workshop materials (a service the conference organisers are unwilling to provide …it’s like the opposite of how Sophie runs UX London).

Right about the time that Drupalcon is wrapping up, I’ll head down to Austin for the annual geek pilgrimage to South By Southwest Interactive. I should really pay close attention Tantek’s SXSW packing and check list.

This year, I’m not giving a presentation or speaking on a panel so I can relax and enjoy myself. If you’re heading to Southby, I look forward to sharing a Shiner Bock or three—one of the reasons I like going is not just to see people I haven’t seen in ages, but also to meet new people who equally geeky about the web.

After the craziness of Austin, I’m going to unwind for a while with the in-laws down in Saint Augustine, Florida, which should be nice and relaxing.

After that, I’m off to Portland, Oregon; a place to which I’ve never been but about which I’ve heard plenty of good things. There’s geek meet up planned for March 24th. Come along for a beer and a chat.

Finally, I’ll finish up in Seattle for the first Event Apart of the year. I have no doubt that the conference will be excellent, as usual. I just hope that the presentation I’ve got planned can meet the high standards set by the other speakers.

If you’re going to be in any of those places—Chicago, Austin, Saint Augustine, Portland, or Seattle—I look forward to seeing you there.

The long prep

The secret to a good war movie is not in the depiction of battle, but in the depiction of the preparation for battle. Whether the fight will be for Agincourt, Rourke’s Drift, Helm’s Deep or Hoth, it’s the build-up that draws you in and makes you care about the outcome of the upcoming struggle.

That’s what 2011 has felt like for me so far. I’m about to embark on a series of presentations and workshops in far-flung locations, and I’ve spent the first seven weeks of the year donning my armour and sharpening my rhetorical sword (so to speak). I’ll be talking about HTML5, responsive design, cultural preservation and one web; subjects that are firmly connected in my mind.

It all kicks off in Belgium. I’ll be taking a train that will go under the sea to get me to Ghent, location of the Phare conference. There I’ll be giving a talk called All Our Yesterdays.

This will be non-technical talk, and I’ve been given carte blanche to get as high-falutin’ and pretentious as I like …though I don’t think it’ll be on quite the same level as my magnum opus from dConstruct 2008, The System Of The World.

Having spent the past month researching and preparing this talk, I’m looking forward to delivering it to a captive audience. I submitted the talk for consideration to South by Southwest also, but it was rejected so the presentation in Ghent will be a one-off. The SXSW rejection may have been because I didn’t whore myself out on Twitter asking for votes, or it may have been because I didn’t title the talk All Our Yesterdays: Ten Ways to Market Your Social Media App Through Digital Preservation.

Talking about the digital memory hole and the fragility of URLs is a permanently-relevant topic, but it seems particularly pertinent given the recent moves by the BBC. But I don’t want to just focus on what’s happening right now—I want to offer a long-zoom perspective on the web’s potential as a long-term storage medium.

To that end, I’ve put my money where my mouth is—$50 worth so far—and placed the following prediction on the Long Bets website:

The original URL for this prediction (www.longbets.org/601) will no longer be available in eleven years.

If you have faith in the Long Now foundation’s commitment to its URLs, you can challenge my prediction. We shall then agree the terms of the bet. Then, on February 22nd 2022, the charity nominated by the winner will receive the winnings. The minimum bet is $200.

If I win, it will be a pyrrhic victory, confirming my pessimistic assessment.

If I lose, my faith in the potential longevity of URLs will be somewhat restored.

Depending on whether you see the glass as half full or half empty, this means I’m either entering a win/win or lose/lose situation.

Care to place a wager?

Get excited and make things with science

There are many reasons to go to South by Southwest Interactive: meeting up with friends old and new being the primary one. Then there’s the motivational factor. I always end up feeling very inspired by what I see.

This year, that feeling of inspiration was front and centre. First off, I tried to impart some of it on the How to Rawk SXSW panel, which was a lot of fun. Mind you, I did throw some shit at the fan by demonstrating how wasteful the overstuffed schwag bags are. I hope I didn’t get MJ into trouble.

My other public appearance was on The Heather Gold Show which was bags of fun. With a theme of Get Excited and Make Things, the topic of inspiration was bandied about a lot. It was a blast. Heather is a superb host and the other guests were truly inspirational. I discovered a kindred spirit in fellow excitable geek, Gina Trapani.

The actual panels and presentations at SXSW are the usual mixture of hit and miss, although the Cooking For Geeks presentation was really terrific. Any presenter who hacks the audience’s taste buds during a presentation is alright with me.

But by far the most inspirational thing I’ve seen was a panel hosted by Tantek on Open Science. The subject matter was utterly compelling and the panelists were ludicrously articulate and knowledgeable:

The URLs were flying thick and fast: the Signtific thought experiment game, the collaborative Galaxy Zoo—now joined by Moon Zoo—and the excellent Spacehack directory.

I was struck by the sheer volume of scientific data and APIs out there now. And yet, we aren’t really making use of it. Why we aren’t we making mashups using Google Mars? Why haven’t I built a Farmville-style game with Google Moon?

Halfway through the panel, I turned to Riccardo and whispered, We should organise a Science Hack Day.

I’m serious. It would probably be somewhere in London. I have no idea where or when. I have no idea how to get a venue or sponsors. But maybe you do.

What do you think? Everyone I’ve mentioned the idea to so far seems pretty excited about the idea. I’ll try to set up a wiki for brainstorming venues, sponsors, APIs, datasets and all that stuff. In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment here.

I got excited. Now I want to make things …with science! Are you with me?

South by Twenty Ten

I’m about to head off to Austin for South by Southwest, the annual Bacchanalian geek festival. I’m speaking on a panel again, but this year, the emphasis is very squarely on having fun. MJ very kindly asked me to represent the British contingent on her How to Rawk SXSW panel.

It will be a fun, if somewhat bittersweet affair: Brad Graham was also going to be on the panel. Ol’ bastard Death has put paid to that. Southby won’t be quite the same without him. But while there won’t be a Break Bread with Brad, there will be Break Bread for Brad, shortly after the panel on Friday afternoon.

Given my recent musings on the transience of domains, I can’t help but wonder what will happen to the bradlands.com domain. I hope it doesn’t go the way of Leslie Harpold’s online legacy at smug.com and harpold.com.

Anyway, I’ll be taking a break from my doom-laden predictions of the disappearance of our collective online culture to drink beer and eat barbecue in Texas. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Oh, and I’ll be having a good ol’ chinwag on The Heather Gold Show on Saturday. Come along if you’re around.

As is now traditional, I’ve updated Adactio Austin with a selection of hCalendared, hCarded hand-picked parties that I’ll be checking out. Compared with the whizz-banginess of location-aware real-time iPhone apps, it seems positively quaint.

If you’re going to Austin too and you spot me amongst the heaving throngs of geeks, say hello. We can have a Shiner Bock together.

The Austin Report

South by Southwest Interactive is over for another year. Leaving Austin is always a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand, I’m so exhausted from almost a week of non-stop activity that I relish the chance to get home and unplug for a while. But saying goodbye to all my friends who have gathered together in Texas doesn’t get any easier.

Southby has been growing year on year. This year was no exception. I didn’t think it was possible for more people to come this year than last year but come they did. Economic crisis, my arse. Once you know to expect these kinds of crazy numbers, it becomes manageable. You can either go with the flow or you can sit on your front porch, complain about how it isn’t like the old days, and wave your fist shouting Get off my conference! at all those crazy kids. I went with the flow.

Alas, the sheer size of the festival meant that there were some people I saw far too briefly. Others, I didn’t see at all. That’s a crying shame. But that was offset by the quality time I spent with some fantastic people; friends old and new. As usual, my South by Southwest highlights happened beyond the structure of panels and presentations. Booze ups and barbecues are where my most cherished memories are forged.

That said, I didn’t spend all my time eating tex-mex and drinking margaritas. I plucked some tasty morsels from the conference schedule and had fun savouring their delights. I talked to a few people who were complaining about the subject matter and quality of the panels this year, Too much social media douchebaggery and not enough meaty tech stuff. Actually, I think there was plenty of both. The problem was finding the good stuff. The physical schedules—both the big book and the smaller pocket guide—were laid out in a way that made it really hard to quickly find out who was speaking and what they were speaking about. Most people ended up choosing panels based on a description in the pocket guide that often consisted of three words plucked randomly from the longer description.

If I had a gripe about the panels, it wasn’t about the quality. Quite the opposite. The problem was that oftentimes there was a slew of really good things happening simultaneously.

Take the first day, for instance. On my way to the conference centre to register, I ran into Glenda who told me I ought to come to her How To Rawk SXSW panel because it would melt my face. Then, while I was registering, I was chatting with Steven Johnson who was telling me about the talk he would be giving at exactly the same time on Old Growth Media And The Future Of News. It sounded great. Both were on at the same time as Paul was giving his talk on putting delighters into web design. How could I possibly choose between them all? Paralysed by indecision, I went off to the Whole Foods mothership instead and stocked up on cheese and wine to ensure that the hotel room track of South by Southwest went smoothly this year.

Fortunately all the talks were recorded and the audio for some of them has already been released. Paul’s highly visual talk—including a real world re-enactment of the Silverback parallax effect, complete with gorilla—probably doesn’t translate so well to audio but Steven’s talk, which he wrote out beforehand, makes for great listening. It has already been huffduffed.

The morning of the second day was my time to get on stage. Once again, there was just too much good stuff going on at the same time. Sitting in the green room, I saw Lawrence Lessig getting ready for his talk. Of course, the reason we were both in the green room at the same time was because we were both going to be presenting at the same time. Balls! His talk was the one I had mentally marked down as being unmissable. Then there was the Dawes/Coudal/Hustwit triple bill that I was missing. As a consolation prize, I got some lovely Field Notes notebooks from Jim and introduced myself to Gary Hustwit.

The panel I was on, Microformats: A Quiet Revolution, was a lot of fun. This was a demo-driven talk. Rather than talking about theoretical benefits, we were showing practical applications. I gave a run-down of the microformats-based features on Huffduffer profiles and Karsten ran through all the neat stuff that can do. But the highlights came from Glenn. Despite some technical difficulties with his laptop, he succeeded in blowing people’s minds showing the awesome Social Graph API hacking he’s been doing. His newly-launched Firefox plugin was the pièce de résistance.

The panel finished up with an important announcement from Tantek. Not just one answer to the abbreviation datetime accessibility concerns but two different solutions. They’ve both been thoroughly tested from the authoring perspective so the call has now gone out to parsers to test and implement them.

Once the panel was done, the microformats chatter continued. Panelists and attendees adjourned for a lunch of tacos and semantics. I wasn’t about to hurry back for any keynote presentation. I was having too much fun hanging out with smart and friendly people.

Later in the afternoon, I managed to make it along to the web typography panel that Richard was speaking on. It was clearly a popular topic. I arrived too late to snag a chair so I sat on the floor at the front of the room along with Jessica and Håkon, enjoying the lively debate.

I stayed in that room once the panel was over. Even though most of the official daytime programming was finished, I had one other obligation. Paul had asked me to join him on a live recording of Boagworld. It turned out to be a lot of fun. It was certainly opinionated and irreverent. You can hear the result for yourself.

Next morning, I went along to the third annual Browser Wars panel, featuring representatives from Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera and Google (an Apple representative was, once again, absent). Despite excellent moderation by Arun, the panelists were being far too nice and lovey-dovey. So once the mic was free, I threw some shit at the fan. I’ll cover the subject matter—font linking—in more depth in a later post but suffice to say that my question, when it finally came, was something along the lines of, Does the panel believe that it’s the job of a browser to uphold existing or outdated business models or should it remain true to the vision of the twenty year old web and just render the damn content it’s given? My shit-stirring had the desired effect but the fighting talk was sadly cut short by time constraints.

I didn’t have the luxury of hanging around for a good post-panel debate as I had to run off to play my part in the bloggies. I was providing a little musical interlude on the mandolin. The awards ceremony itself was really good fun with the undoubted highlight being Dan Rubin’s singing performance. You can catch some of the atmosphere in a great video reportage put together by Time (although you’ll have to be advertised at first; I apologise).

I finished the day with a superb presentation entitled Make it So (Sexy): Lustful Design in Mainstream Science Fiction, a sequel to last year’s presentation on interfaces in science-fiction. This year’s presentation was even more narrowly focused, dealing with sex in sci-fi (and sci-fi in sex). Packed full of information, delivered at a good clip and presented in a beautifully put together Prezi format, this was a real highlight.

I spent the next day doing a little bit of grazing: a good core conversation by Christian Crumlish and Erin Malone, a dash of the WaSP annual meeting, a dab of Andy doing his own shit-stirring in Trammell’s Tools To Know Your Users panel …all good stuff. The big announcement of the day was WaSP’s InterAct curriculum. It’s quite a tremendous achievement.

On the final day, I attended Thor’s presentation on our post-human future in which he pitched a fictional neural implant. Interestingly, he began the presentation with audience interaction, asking who in the room would get an implant. I said I’d get one but I’d wait ‘till version two. After the presentation, I was still willing to buy it for a dollar but I did point out what I felt were some shortcomings I found in the device. Thor kept comparing the implant to the iPhone, saying he was only proposing an internalised version of what we’re already doing. But the implant, like the iPhone, is very focused on consuming data rather than publishing content. That’s why the iPhone isn’t doing so well in Asia and that’s why I would jailbreak my implant. I want read/write access to my brain. I want a dreamblog …as long as marketroids don’t go and spoil my dreams with product placements.

In a moment of l’esprit de l’escalier, I later realised that Thor’s talk would make a great companion piece to the sex and sci-fi presentation. In retrospect, I wonder now that the subject of sex didn’t came up in discussing our post-human future. Porn would probably be the killer app.

Speaking of killer apps, there was a distinct feeling at this year’s South by Southwest that entire tribes of social media bloodhounds were hunting in packs for this year’s Twitter. I feel sorry for them. If they would only stop and open their eyes, they would realise that South by Southwest is like the world wide web: the killer app is people.


For the fifth(!) year in a row, I’m going to South by Southwest Interactive. I leave for Texas tomorrow.

Going to a conference is usually like going to a concert. You’re with a bunch of like-minded people getting up close and personal with those people on the stage.

SxSWi is more like a music festival. Let’s face it, festivals aren’t the best place to hear music. But it’s still a lot of fun to go crazy for a weekend with a whole tribe of like-minded people. That’s how Southby feels to me although it isn’t exactly like a music festival because I don’t plan to spend the whole time sitting in a tent waving my hand in front of my face getting, like, totally wicked tracers.

There will be beer. I’ve updated Adactio Austin, my hCard, hCalendar, OpenStreetMap mashup of all the finest soirées, the finest of which is The Great British Booze-up. Alas, I’ll be ducking out of my own party at some stage but with good reason. I’m going to be appearing on The Heather Gold Show.

Apart from spending some quality time extracting the panda out of Paul during the Boagworld live recording, my only daytime obligation is a panel on Saturday morning called Microformats: A Quiet Revolution where I’ll be talking about some of the stuff I’ve been doing on Huffduffer. I would invite you to come along but it’s on at the same time as a presentation by Brendan Dawes, Jim Coudal, and Gary Hustwit—you’d be crazy to pass that up.

I’ll have a limited supply of Huffduffer badges, sorry… buttons, so if you want one, just ask. Even if you don’t, say Hi anyway. Much as I love going meeting up with all my friends in Austin, I really, really enjoy meeting new people. So if you’re going to there, let’s get together for a Shiner Bock or two.

Iron Man and me

All of my Flickr pictures are published under a Creative Commons attribution licence. One of the reasons I switched over to using this licence was so that people didn’t have to write and ask me whenever they want to republish one of my photos. But I still get plenty of emails from people asking me if it would be okay to use one of my pictures. I’m very lax at responding to those requests. If and when I do respond, I point out that they don’t really need to ask; as long as they credit me—as either adactio or Jeremy Keith—then they can use my photos wherever and however they want.

Back in March, right before I was setting out for Mix’08 in Vegas and South By Southwest in Austin, I received a typical request:

Is the photo Andy in the VAB your image on flickr? If so can you please contact me with regard to possibly allowing us to use a part of this image in a feature film.

Andy in the VAB

I didn’t respond. I was too busy packing and gearing myself for a big showdown with Microsoft (this was right before they reversed their decision on IE8’s default rendering). I soon received a second email with more details:

The photograph would be cropped in a way where no people would be shown. We are interested in using this image as a background to insert our main characters which would be included as part of a biography film on our main character which is shown at an award ceremony honoring him in the film.

I thought it was an odd picture to be asking about. Let’s face it; it’s not a very good photo. It’s blurry and washed out. I guess it’s somewhat unusual in that it was shot inside the at Cape Canaveral. Usually members of the public aren’t allowed inside. Myself, Andy and Paul were lucky enough to be part of the first open day since 2001. It was all thanks to an invitation from Benny, a bona fide rocket scientist at NASA—thanks again, Benny!

I never got around to responding to the emails. I figured that, whoever it was, if they really wanted to use the picture, they would notice the licence and realise that they didn’t have to ask permission.

I quickly forgot all about it. Other events were foremost in my mind. I got a call from Pete Le Page and Chris Wilson telling me that Internet Explorer 8 was going to render pages as if it were—get this—Internet Explorer 8. Now I was going to Vegas for a celebration instead of a battle.

After a long trip across the Atlantic, I awoke in my hotel on the first morning of the conference, eager to hear the opening keynote. But before I could head downstairs, my mobile phone rang. I answered it and the woman on the other end said, “Hi. I sent you two emails about using a picture of yours…”

“Ah, right!”, I said. I then launched into my usual spiel about Creative Commons licencing. I explained that she was free to use my picture. All she had to do was include a credit somewhere in her little movie.

“Well”, she said, “the thing is, getting your name in the credits usually costs at least $1,500. That’s why we need you sign the license release form I sent.”

“Wait a minute”, I said. “What is this for?”

“It’s for a movie that’s currently in production called Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jnr.”

Holy crap! One of my photos was going to be in Iron Man? That certainly put a new spin on things.

“So I guess you want to use the picture because it’s inside NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building?” I asked.

“No. We just thought it was a picture of some warehouse or something.”

The woman on the other end of the phone—her name was Ashley—said she could reimburse me for the use of my photo if I signed the form she sent. I thanked her, told her I didn’t need any reimbursement, and said I would print out and sign the form for her. Ashley made it clear that I would need to get the form faxed to her before the end of the day.

There was a printer in my hotel room so I set about getting it connected up to my Macbook. That’s when disaster struck. My Macbook began making the dreaded ticking time bomb noise. Within seconds, my hard drive was dead, broken, kaput. Pining for the fjords, it had shuffled off this mortal coil and was an ex hard drive.

Well aware of the irony of my Apple hardware failing while I was attending a Microsoft conference, I abandoned all hope of printing out the license release form and sat in on the opening keynote. This consisted of a few words from Ray Ozzie, a quick look at IE8 and about a billion hours of Silverlight demos. That’s what it felt like anyway.

The next day, I made my way to Austin for South by Southwest. That turned out to be quite an adventure.

Once I finally made it to Austin, I settled into a comfortable routine of geeking out, having fun and generally over-indulging. As I was making my way to the conference centre one morning, my mobile phone rang. It was Ashley.

“Sorry I didn’t manage to get the form to you”, I said. “My laptop died on me. I know it’s too late now.”

“Actually, there’s still time”, she responded.

“Look”, I said. “Let’s cut out the computers completely. Can you fax the form to my hotel? I can sign it and fax it back to you straight away.”

And that’s exactly what we did.

Iron Man was released a few weeks later. I never got ‘round to seeing it in the cinema; I’m not a big fan of the whole cinema-going experience. But some time later I was travelling across the Atlantic yet again and one of the in-flight movie options was Iron Man. I fired it up, wondering if my picture had made it into the final cut and even if it had, whether I’d be able to spot it.

Three minutes into the movie, there was my photo.

Jeff Bridges and Robert Downey Jnr. in Iron Man

It fills the screen. The camera lingers over it while performing its best Ken Burns effect. Not only was Robert Downey Jnr. photoshopped onto the picture, Jeff Bridges was on there too! The Dude!! …On my picture!!!

My Flickr pictures have been used in some pretty strange places but this must surely be the strangest …and the coolest.

Before and after


I’ve published a transcript of the panel I moderated at South by Southwest this year. The subject was Building Portable Social Networks and I had a blast moderating, mostly due to my great co-panelists, Chris Messina, Leslie Chicoine, David Recordon and Joseph Smarr.

During the panel, I made reference to an ongoing joke by Brian and myself to do a negative version of — an XHTML Enemies Network. I always thought of it as a frivolous idea but sometimes I wonder if there might be the occasional real-world use case.

Suppose, for instance, that I wanted to link to Mike “The Dick” Arrington’s latest bit of bollocks over on TechC*nt? Well, now I can add some extra semantic richness to that link by throwing in the appropriate rel value.

I give you the XEN 1.0 profile.

Please note the fine print:

XEN is not a microformat. It is a joke.


As well as enjoying the panel offerings of my peers at South by Southwest, I had the pleasure of hosting a session too.

There are two ways to approach speaking gigs. You can do a proper presentation with plenty of preparation. That’s what I’ve always done in previous years and that’s what Richard and James opted for with their talk, Wireframing in a Web 2.0 World. The presentation was excellent although much of the humour derived from putting this picture on screen for all to see. And what were the chances that Derek’s presentation immediately afterward would feature a further two Star Wars related pictures of me?

The other approach is to do a panel. This is quite a different beast to doing a presentation. In this case, too much preparation can actually be harmful. If you ever find yourself in the position of having to moderate a panel, I suggest you read the wise words of Derek Powazek:

Do not get everyone together beforehand. Do not have breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Do not start an email thread and make everyone participate. All this does is rob the panel of any spontaneity. Your panelists learn very quickly where the hot buttons are, and will avoid them later, which makes for a boring panel. And when the audience hears a panelist say, Well, as we were discussing earlier … it just makes them feel like they missed the good part.

The secret to having a good panel is actually pretty simple: get together a bunch of passionate, smart, sassy experts and let ‘em rip. I was lucky enough to have a dream line-up for Building Portable Social Networks:

They were all wonderful and the time up there on the stage just flew by. I had a lot of compliments on the panel afterwards. The kind words of Jeff Veen in particular meant a lot to me—he’s my public speaking role model.

I’m coming to realise how much I love moderating panels. It started with the Hot Topics panels at @media and now I’m hooked. I probably enjoy moderating panels for much the same reason that I enjoy moderating Werewolf: a feeling of power and the chance to get some cheap laughs at the expense of other people’s public humiliation …all without the hard work and preparation that goes into a proper presentation.

So if you’re putting together a conference and you’re looking for a dictactorial sarcastic bastard to moderate a panel, come see about me.

Meanwhile I’ll be eagerly refreshing the podcast coverage from this year’s SXSW until the audio from my panel is made available, at which point I’ll get it transcribed and published. C’mon Hugh, don’t make me break out my bitchin’n’moanin’ mojo.

South by secularity

On the Sunday afternoon in the middle of South by Southwest Interactive, Andy, Jessica and I took some time out for a very pleasant Mexican lunch at Las Manitas with Sean Bonner, Tantek, Ariel and our anglo-Canadian musical masters, Matt and Hannah.

As lunch neared its end, every single mobile device at the table began to vibrate with ever greater frequency. We were missing the now-infamous interview by Sarah Lacey of Mark Zuckerburg but Twitter was giving us a blow-by-blow account of the debacle. The most astute observation was delivered from afar by Tom Morris:

What’s the difference between Facebook and the FB session at SXSW? You can leave the session…

On balance, we were all pretty glad that we were missing the train wreck.

We got the bill and started paying up. Tantek began going through each of his dollar bills with a felt-tipped pen, crossing out the word “God” from the phrase In God We Trust. I asked the obvious question. Tantek, what are you doing? His answer:

Separating church and state.

Southby gone by

South by Southwest is over for another year and once again, I had a great time. Yes, it was overwhelming. Yes, it was even bigger than before. But I went in with expectations of an overwhelmingly big conference so I wasn’t constantly comparing it to previous years and muttering It’s not like the old days.

As always, the most valuable and rewarding aspect to SXSW is the people. Sure, I didn’t get to see everybody I wanted to but rather than running around frantically trying to connect with everyone, I decided to savour the time I had with people in the moment. It was wonderful to spend some time with old friends and it was equally wonderful to meet new people, all of them smart, passionate and just plain nice.

In between the geek breakfasts, the hallway conversations, the BBQ lunches, the geek bowling—superbly overseen by Cindy—and such great parties as The Great British Booze-up, there was even time for an occasional panel or presentation. These can be fairly hit or miss (remember, no-one gets paid to speak and with 10 simultaneous tracks, the quality is bound to be inconsistent) but I got pretty lucky with the panels I attended.

I did some panel-hopping, invoking the law of two feet and remembering that if you’re not really enjoying a talk, it’s more insulting to stay than to leave. I also made a point of trying to get outside my comfort zone so for the most part, I steered clear of CSS and JavaScript discussions in favour of topics like High Tech Craft.

I really enjoyed the What Teens Want panel. If this had been a bunch of adults talking about what they think teens want, it would have been excruciating. But because this was coming straight from the young horse’s mouth, it was absorbing.

Jim Coudal’s presentation on Creative Relativity was engrossing but I must admit that I ducked out half-way through: just about everyone I follow on Twitter was raving about the Worst Website Ever comedy revue managed by Andy Baio that was on at the same time. I ducked into the back of the already-packed room and sure enough, it was absolutely hilarious—possibly the highlight of this and every other SXSW.

There was one presentation I really didn’t want to miss. Even before the final schedule was announced, the talk at the top of my list was called The Web That Wasn’t based on the new book Glut by Alex Wright. It was a fascinating look at the alternative histories of hypertext from Paul Otlet to Doug Engelbart. It made me kick myself even more that I had to pass up David’s invitation to meet in the flesh at Saint Paul’s a couple of weeks back.

All in all, I had a great time filling up my brain whether it was at a panel, in a hallway or at a dinner table. I’m sure the conference will be even bigger next year but that’s not going to stop me from coming back. South by Southwest is the one event in the geek calendar that is truly unmissable.

But I hope that next year the organisers will heed Jeffrey’s remarks and provide some kind of daycare facility for the children of geek parents. Not only would it earn good , it strikes me that there’s a great sponsorship opportunity there too.