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SXSW Quick Hits

. Casey Rathunde

So far, I've been trying to write blog posts that "hang together," but part of the fun of SXSW is the way that you're constantly bombarded with amazing and interesting details and experiences. In the interest of sharing as many different angles on the event as possible about the event, I'm abandoning that format today in favor of sharing some shorter notes I've collected over the past few days.

  • You have probably never seen as many smartphones, tablets, and laptops in your life as I've seen at SXSW. You have definitely never seen people so incapable of putting them away (she says, as she blogs from her smartphone). It's a little bit disturbing, actually. Mobile platforms are definitely the "now," but I'm not really sure that they're also the "future." There has to be tech fatigue at some point.
  • Everything here is covered in QR codes. Everything. Most of them seem to rely on the hope that people will be inherently intrigued by the presence of a scannable code, and they'll check it out on the strength of that curiosity. When everything is covered in codes, that's a pretty bad assumption. I was highly intrigued by the idea of a QR coded cupcake, but not so much that I didn't stuff the entire thing in my mouth without scanning it. (A friend did try to scan the code, but apparently edible ink doesn't hold up well enough for it to register). The only code I've actually scanned was on a sticker that I liked the design of, and the only reason I scanned it was to verify that it didn't point to anything I found objectionable. QR codes are cool technology, but I'm not sure people have quite figured out what to do with them.
  • I have never stood in so many lines in my life.
  • My favorite one-line gem of the week: "If you think you can multitask well, your work should be judged by somebody only doing one thing at a time."
  • At an event like this, it's worth seeing some of the "web personalities" speak, even if you don't immediately see the connection between their work and yours. After seeing Mathew Inman ("The Oatmeal") and Felicia Day speak, I've realized that these people are successful at what they do because they are passionate about their work. There is definitely something to be learned from their process, even if your projects are very different.
  • I am obsessed with the brilliance of the cheese-wedge-shaped restaurant in the convention center that only serves grilled cheese, large grilled cheese, and tomato soup. They're making great use of a concept that so many people are trying to advocate for in other spheres: do one thing really, really well. Grilled cheese as inspiration for a web development philosophy? Why not?
  • No, really - I have never, ever stood in so many lines. I am trying to learn patience along with all of the cool tech inspiration I'm getting, but it's not easy. I mention this fact because I'm trying to convince myself that no experience is wasted time; maybe if I commit the idea to "paper," the concept will sink in a little bit.
  • The most important thing I've learned about the emerging web technologies (HTML5 and CSS3, to name two of the biggest ones), is that it's not yet time to jump in with both feet. The specs haven't been finished yet, and they're still moving targets. Experimenting with the technology will be fun, but it's not time to start large projects that rely on the bleeding edge features.
Tomorrow was going to be more of a "wrap-up" post, but after catching the encore presentation of "Worst Website Ever," I'm definitely going to write about that tomorrow, once I've had a chance to let it marinate. As much as the panel was presented as humor, it also might have been the most inspiring and insightful panel I saw. (So there's your preview for tomorrow!)

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