SXSW 2009 Panels Proposed

SXSW 2009 Last week, while I was on vacation meeting my new nieces and attending my 20th year high school reunion, the Panel Picker for SXSW 09 went live.

Although voting by prospective attendees is only “about 30%” of the decision making process, I figured I should promote my submissions here, and hope that readers of this blog might be interested in commenting on them or voting for them in the panel picker. (Although they call it the panel picker – no one can resist alliteration – it includes sessions which are solo speakers or dual speakers as well as more tradition 4-5 person panels).

So here are the sessions I proposed (links go directly to the Panel Picker):

Managing User Generated Content
The age of content being managed only by authorized professionals is over. Users expect to contribute to, rate, review, recommend, filter, tag, and moderate their experiences on the web. What does this mean for designers and content management professionals? How do you encourage appropriate behavior and discourage spam and vandalism, without completely reverting to non-participation?
Open Source and Design: Ideologies Clashing
Thesis: Open Source and Design are fundamentally philosophically incompatible. Antithesis: Open Source and Design are profoundly similar in core beliefs and approaches. This talk works to articulate a meaningful synthesis between these two positions.

Managing Your Online Identity Outside the Walled Garden
(Dual talk with Joshua Porter). This talk will cover 3 basic ideas: 1) What Managing Identity means these days and why it is important 2) Off-the-shelf technologies that help you manage your Identity 3) A DIY (Do-it-yourself) approach to managing your Identity…how you can roll your own identity services using existing pieces

The first is really an updated version of this talk from Web Content 2008, which seemed to go over well.

The second is inspired by r0ml’s series of OSCON talks over the last 3 years: rambling, philosophical, and entertaining in addition to being educational and thought-provoking. I’m sure I’ll fail to live up to his example but have fun in the process. I tried to update the description in the panel picker but failed – here’s what I was trying to add:

The context for me is in trying to articulate why free and open source projects have historically found it difficult to recruit / retain / attract designers as contributors. (Or, depending on your point of view, why open source projects have been so inhospitable to the design-oriented contributors who show up).

Thesis: Open Source and Design are philosophically incompatible.

Open Source is about enabling anyone and everyone to share the same code base. Open source pushes markets toward commodity status, leveling the playing field by making the same technology available to all. Design, by contrast, is about differentiation; standing apart from the crowd and being unique on the basis of creative innovation.

Besides, Open Source projects are ugly, and only engineers can use them. Well designed, beautiful, and easy to use projects have always come from proprietary approaches.

Antithesis: Open Source and design are profoundly similar in core beliefs. Open source and design are both based in solving problems based on known patterns. Good artists copy, great artists steal. Maybe some very small portion of “design” is about differentiation, but design is much broader than that subset. Also, many open source projects differentiate and innovate – sometimes on ease of use.

Besides, many open source projects are now actively pursuing design contributions, running usability studies, encouraging themes/skins, and working to compete with proprietary software on both “eye candy” and ease of use.

Synthesis: How can open source projects benefit more from the talents of the design community (across visual design, interaction design, information architecture, usability, and branding)? How can designers and design communities benefit from the lessons of free and open source software?

The third is a joint talk with Joshua Porter, whose book Designing for the Social Web is a must read. He’ll be talking about some of the “off the shelf” services available to help you manage your online identity (like, and I will be talking about the DIY approach, assembling together from free and open source software an online identity management toolbox.

1 Comment

  1. Good luck with the panels, I’m particularly interested in the online identity management theme.

    Frightening that I’m already getting excited about SXSW and there’s some 200 days left to go.

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