My raw notes for the last day can be found here.

Web Design 2010

Some of the interesting discussions and questions are here (although Dave said that might not be a permalink, so apologies if it moves). The panelists were Doug Bowman, Eris Free (“the sleeper hit of the festival”), John Hicks, Dave Shea and John Allsopp (the most entertaining moderator of SXSWi).

Although this panel was quite entertaining, I this to be much more a function of the personalities of the panelists than the content. There were some interesting thoughts though as to where the web was going to be in 2010:

  • Applications are moving online — there are current examples (Gmail, etc) showing comparative usability
  • Application delivery seems to be moving towards a service vs product mentality
  • A key issue will be new interaction models — we need an alternative to the keyboard and a number pad isn’t going to cut it
  • Nobody knows what technologies will matter in 5 years time

Personally I think that the anticipated change was far greater than is really feasible in a 5-year time frame. People were talking about the disappearance of the desktop machine, the browser, the keyboard. I think that this might well happen at the bleeding edge, but in reality there’s a whole lot of world that needs to catch up. And, as I pointed out in the session, the key thing holding back the developing world is not the price of computers or software (you know where your Mac goes when it dies, right? And about Linux, yeah?), but bandwidth. I don’t know _anyone_ in South Africa with a home broadband connection yet. And that’s what’s going to stop the developing world keeping up. After all, Linux will run on any old thing.

Decentralized Social Networks

Again, the people on this panel were interesting, but it was a bit thin on content. Key message: XFN is cool because your network information is distributed, so you needn’t put it into many different services or worry about who owns your relationship data. Also, Rubhub helps you keep track of people who’ve XFNed you.

Keynote: Bruce Sterling & Alex Steffen

This keynote rocked. I knew that Worldchanging’s Alex Steffen would be interesting, but I was surprised at how cool & clued-in Bruce Sterling was as well. I’d recommend that you watch the video, because they were very entertaining.

3-D Printed Widget Against My Laptop style=

Key thoughts:

  • Humanity produces way too much crap — we need to reduce our waste in production, but also in what we throw away
  • There’s too much toxic stuff going into the atmosphere — this is where Bruce Sterling smoking his Converse shoes comes in
  • We need radical new ways of building and creating things, as we’re running out of space
  • LEAPFROGGING involves skipping a stage in development, usually on a societal/country level
  • TREEFROGGING is all about finding alternate ways to live on a personal basis (Treehugger.com)
  • Sterling’s ideal is that one day things will be manufactured to be intelligent about what they’re made up from — so basically when they’re discarded they can make their own way to a recycling plant, or send out a distress call to be picked up by someone and recycled

Cool quotes: (all Sterling unless otherwise noted)

  • “I’m a green protocrat…”
  • “The actual is the new virtual” (on 3D printing)
  • “Yeah, we’re going in, let’s scan his head and print out his skull!” (on the advantage of having 3D-printing for neurosurgeons)
  • “We’re building a city the size of Seattle every 5 days!” – Alex
  • “Just go throw it over the side to the pirahnas of bloggerland” (on the massive rise to fame of the solar backpack after bloggers picked it up and ran with it)
  • “Design is design for the dump” (everything gets thrown away sometime)
  • “What would your reaction be if you got into the shower and it said to you ‘You have a surprisingly large amount of jet fuel in your system today…'”

Spam, Trolls & Stalkers

All about how to deal with conflict & problems in online communities. A good session with quite a lot of practical focus.
Practical Advice:

  • You need to “tend the conversation”, else things will quickly get out of hand
  • Overspecific rules are an invitation to game the system; try to deal in broader concepts instead
  • You can’t automate intelligence — judgement is needed in all of this
  • Don’t talk about what you’re doing to stop antisocial behaviour on your blog
  • Figure out ahead of time what sort of community you want — even if it all goes out the window, at least you’ve given it consideration and perhaps you’ll give it some “soul”
  • You need to pay attention to community content — as the host, you’re liable
  • Dead blogs, unupgraded blogging software, etc, is producing spam havens — people who desert or fail to tend are part of the problem!