Tags: sxswi10



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.