SXSW - Day 2 | March 14, 2005

Despite going to sleep at around 2am, I woke up again at 6am on the dot. Damn jet lag! After a leisurely breakfast we headed out to watch the kickball game. The game was vaguely entertaining but the funniest thing was Paul Scrivens doing a victory dance when he scored a run. I’d have loved to have gotten an MPEG of that!

I ended up chatting to this local journalist who said that 3,500 people had bought tickets to the Interactive section of SXSW. I’d assumed that most of the people registering were there for the film track, but it seems like the interactive track is going to very big this year. I finally met up with Dave Shea and Cameron Moll, both of whom were really cool.

Our talk was later that day so me and Jeremy decided to cruise by the room to check it out. Happy that we knew where we were going, Jeremy, Rich, Ian and myself went to grab some lunch. After some more great Texan cooking we headed off to Jeffrey’s keynote speech which was packed. Jeffrey was very entertaining and his tone really helped set the scene for our talk.

After the keynote me and Jeremy headed off to the green room. I have to admit that having to wait around in the green room for 45min before speaking did more to make me nervous than anything else. I decided to go for a quick walk and poked my nose into our room. It was a good half hour before our talk, but the room was already filling up. This was a sign of things to come as by the time our talk started, the room was full. People were standing at the back and sitting on the floor, and they even stopped people coming in. I even found out later that Jeffrey tried to get in but it was too full!

The talk we had prepared was entitled How to Bluff Your Way in CSS and was very tongue in cheek. The idea was to show people where they needed to go and what they needed to do to learn CSS. However rather than just listing out a bunch of dry resources we wanted to have a little fun with the topic. So we talked about all this stuff under the pretext that it would help people pretend to be CSS experts. We also wanted to poke a bit of fun at ourselves and the web standards community as a whole, as we do tend to take ourselves a little seriously.

We were a bit concerned that people wouldn’t get the joke and think we were idiots. However after five or ten minutes people realized that we weren’t being serious and got into the whole thing. As people started enjoying the talk I really relaxed into things and started having fun. Quite a few people came up to us afterwards to say they enjoyed the talk, which was great. All in all it was an excellent experience and all the hard work was worth the while.

I ran off to Jason Fried’s talk about small team development. The basic theme of the talk seemed to be that it was better to start building as soon as possible rather than wasting time on planning and documenting. Jason rightly pointed out that many clients don’t read, don’t understand or misinterpret specs. It’s only when they get a chance to see something working that they really know if that’s what they wanted or not. Jason suggested that an iterative process comprising of lots of small steps was the best way to solve this problem.

While I could identify with most of the issues Jason talked about, it did seem that he was advocating trial and error over intelligent design. His approach would really decrease the initial overhead and speed time-to-market. However if a fundamental problem crept in at the start of the process, it could result in a large part of the project needing to be redesigned or recoded. Jason did push the point that the application should be as simple as possible, which would minimize the overhead of change. However that could still mean quite a bit of reprogramming depending on the site.

After the conference I headed down to the CSS-Discuss meet-up at Buffalo Billiards before having dinner with a bunch of cool people at the Iron Cactus. We spent ages having dinner so managed to miss the opening party. However we did get to the after party where I finally got chance to say hi to Jeffrey which was cool.

Posted at March 14, 2005 3:09 PM


Rob McMichael said on March 14, 2005 3:29 PM

Sounds like fun, I perused the flickr gallerys and found the odd shot of you and the other brits!

The presentation looked good too, risky with the lack of american sense of sarcasm. Then again the know what to expect from us crazy foreigners.

Andrew Hume said on March 14, 2005 5:56 PM

The presentation looks great, Andy. Bet you had some fun with it.

Like Rob said: Risky angle, but sure you pulled it off brilliantly.

Wish I could have been there. Enjoying your updates though - have fun.

Scrivs said on March 17, 2005 3:17 AM

Yes, my dancing skills are unsurpassed. Glad I could entertain and I would love just to see pics of me in action. Damn this ego.