SXSW Themes

While writing up notes on SXSW panels I attended, I’ve start pulling out a few key themes – I guess you’d call them my take aways from the conference.

I’ll come back and revisit and expand on these as I get through days 2, 3, and 4, but thought I’d start talking about them now, and see how my understanding changes.

They’re not necessarily in order of priority or anything.  I’ll come back and add links as I write up posts on the panels referred to below.

  1. High versus Low. There was a panel on learning from Las Vegas, and a panel on High Class versus Low Class web design. There was Henry Jenkins’ valorization of fandom, counterpointed by Bruce Sterling’s dismissal of the blogosphere, fandom, and all of web 2.0 as a “folk culture” for “hicks.” How can we hope to do user-centered design if we think our users are idiots?
  2. Open versus Closed. Open knowledge, open content, open source. Moving from a model based on scarcity to a model based on ubiquity and transparency. There were several panels moderated by Creative Commons. Jenkins again versus Sterling again. Sterling emphasizes that things which used to be businesses just are not any more – Jenkins emphasizes freedom and creative contribution.
  3. Sustainability – there was a panel, but sustainability also showed up in the panel on 12 values shaping the future of technology. Came up in a number of the questions – during the open source advocates panel, someone connected using open source software to buying organic, or being vegetarian (woot woot).
  4. Community – participating in existing communities versus building your own. inviting users into something you’ve built up over the years versus creating something with the community together. The mapping panel fits in here as well – new ways of exploring old communities, as well as new ways of imagining and building communities together.
  5. Passion. In the worldchanging panel this was about green your inner geek – finding a way to do what makes you happy in a greener way, rather than trying to do everything and getting overwhelmed. Turning projects into revenue generating businesses starts first with doing what you love.

What other themes did you see, if you were there, or are you starting to see in the reports from SXSW if you weren’t?

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