SxSW is a very interesting conference. It has a strong claim to being a gathering of the most influential independent voices on the web today. A-list bloggers mix with CEO's of buzz-tastic companies mix with (ahem) famous web cartoonists, and the result is a unique chemistry. There are a wide variety of interesting panels, but apparently they are just a cover story for the nonstop networking that goes on in every hall in the convention center, and in every bar in Austin. It's big fun.
Dave Kellett and I have been dividing-and-conquering the panels. The most powerful thing I heard Saturday was the keynote by Jim Coudal and Jason Fried. Jason is head of 37Signals, who brought us Ruby on Rails and a variety of extremely well-designed web applications, and therefore I was predisposed to listen carefully to his remarks. His philosophy is basically "less is more" in almost every way, and it really rung true for me. In fact, at lunch I had just been telling Dave how my strategy for implementing new features to our website is to do the very smallest amount of work possible, rather than mapping out vast plans that never seem to actually happen.
I attended a discussion on digitizing books, mostly because it seemed relevant to the library world, but it proved quite interesting. Dave went to what was apparently a great panel called Creating Passionate Users and we've been talking nonstop on the implications for cartoonists.
Afterwards we dropped in on the Austin on Rails happy hour, where I met some fellow Rails converts and found the solution to a technical problem that's been bugging me. Then we went to the frogDesign party where we met more people than I will ever remember, but fortunately I have a vast pile of business cards.
All through the day I stole every opportunity to lie down and rest my back well, but even with the muscle relaxants it's likely I will pay a price for all this education and networking. My back hurts.