I typically spend SXSW assiduously avoiding most of the programming, hanging out with friends in the hallway and the streets, enjoying the austin/california social network infill. This time for inexplicable reason I sought out more programming than usual.
The geo panel was interesting because I haven’t been following the field super-closely. There were intriguing visualizations of taxi trips across london and stress levels of pedestrians. The data showed pretty pictures, but more context and real investigative research would be needed to determine what the information teaches.
Jerry Paffendorf from Electric Sheep talked about simulacra of 3d places in “second life”. The point doesn’t grab me. I love ideas about annotating the 3d world (and Liz’ mention about annotating virtual worlds). But making a second life simulation of Palo Alto and moving in? Why?
There were some interesting bits in the hallway: a demo of a prototype university tour guide app running on a Nokia mobile, where you can find information and annotations about the various buildings and programs. A friend’s grad school credit project to build an annotated map of a new infill neighborhood, for the interests of neighbors, local businesses, and potential residents.
Kathy Sierra was good on the need for contextual help, and kind of off-base (if she was serious), about computerized help systems that recognize human emotion. It’s really hard to imagine an IA that would make a pissed off customer be less irate, rather than more irate.
Danah Boyd had a fabulous interview with her mentor, Henry Jenkins about the growth and increasing recognition of fan culture, and fearmongering about the threats of myspace and cousins. Re: combatting bad laws. The people in the room have more power than they know. Just a bit of organizing would go a long way.
From a panel on building a great in-house design team, how to hire designers. a) poach. b) hire them out of school and teach them how to have a job. Alternatively, c) build a community around agile design, and get to know good people.
Technology at SXSW was in much better shape in years past. The network was occasionally flaky but mostly on. The sessions were being podcast, greatly reducing the anxiety about missing any given thing.

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