Panelist: Steve Souders
, formerly Chief Performance Yahoo!, now at Google
A slower version of Souders's presentation that incorporates his slides is available at Yahoo! Developer Network Theater
. A complete list of the rules and short explanations
are also available at the Yahoo! Developer Network.
Ahhh, yes. My second SXSW panel, and it was mostly over my head. I thought that was great. Yep, I'm at a technology conference. My notes are quite short for this one:
- Souder's book contains 14 best practices for speeding up webpages
- Speed matters
- Bug checking tools: Firebug and YSlow (YSlow was originally developed in-house for Yahoo, and is now also available as a Mozilla add-on.
- Keep scripts as far down as possible on pages, and put style sheets above scripts - MySpace pages break these rules [no surprise there!]
- Stuff about caching
- Focus on front-end
- Two quick fixes: add expires headers and use Gzip components
The book reading sessions were fast-paced half-hour segments that took place in the day stage, a room that had both a traditional audience set-up and scattered tables and chairs. There was a small cafeteria line set up in one corner, where I incidentally got the best food I've ever had at a convention center: a (non-Taco Bell) taco. It was a convenient and comfortable place to casually drop in, get a snack, and check email while listening to snippets of interesting content. I popped into a couple others, but this is the only one I took notes on.
Panel blurb: Vitruvius, the first Roman Architect to write about architecture, asserted that any well-designed building must exhibit the three qualities of firmitas, utilitas, and venustas or be durable, useful and beautiful. Can these same three tenets be applied today to help us design better interactions in a digital environment? This presentation will first touch on the similarities between designing buildings and designing digital interactions. Then, there will be an introduction to Vitruvius and his book, De Architectura. In his book Vitruvius writes about this notion of a well-designed building being durable, useful and beautiful. Those three qualities will first be looked at in their historical context, but then will be examined to see how they translate into the contemporary context of interaction design.
Panelist: Jennifer Fraser
, Lead User Experience Designer, Corel Corporation (Fraser has degrees in building architecture)
Presentation slides are available at SlideShare
[edited to add] Presentation audio
- Interaction design is a profession in its infancy
- Vitruvius was a theorist, not practitioner - we only know of one building he designed plus his treatise De Architectura consisting of ten books
- Trivia: Leonardo's famous Vitruvian Man drawing is called that because it is based on Vitruvius's principles of ideal human proportions [I'd always assumed the proportions were original to Leonardo]
- Three design qualities: durability, convenience, beauty
- An example of what we might start with when approaching a project: the Winchester House
- Various foundations for different designers: OS, browsers, Facebook apps, mobile devices, etc. If not carefully built, project/product turns into house of cards
- Importance of failing gracefully. Examples: Twitter's 404 page and error pages, Firefox's "restore session" feature when restarting after crashes
- Not so great: MS asking you to send crash data
- No south-facing libraries in ancient Rome because of damp south winds
- Rooms = webpages
- Matching is important - don't mix Doric and Ionic features
- Adhere to established vocabularies and conventions, or at least be aware of them
- Good: MS Office 2007 minibar that shows up just when you need it and fades away after a moment
- Modern interpretations of Vitruvius's three design qualities: usable, useful, desirable
- Fraser used an equilateral triangle with points B, C, and D (for beauty, convenience, and durability) to illustrate. The aspiration is to be in the middle (in most cases--some products/projects will vary). Try to figure out where your project is in the triangle. There will be tension and pull between internal and external stakeholders.
- It is terrifying what people will do with products!
Fraser's session was mainly theoretical and abstract, but managed to be practical at the same time. She said that she had been curious how traditional building architecture principles could be applied to interaction architecture design, and chose Vitruvius after considering several others.
Fraser's content was fantastic, but I wish she hadn't tied herself so closely to the prepared text. She made nice use of humor, but I'm not sure how much of the audience caught it in her delivery. That said, presenting solo to a SXSW crowd is an act of bravery I'm not sure I'd be up for.Photo © Luc Viatour GFDL/CC
Even at a conference with good wifi nearly everywhere,* I still don't know how people keep up with posting about conferences as they happen.
* Alas, I was in the overflow room during Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg's now infamous lame interview/keynote by Business Week's Sarah Lacy, and couldn't access Twitter, so I missed the backlash. I left after 20 minutes anyway, because it was boring. The groundbreaking message: "Facebook helps people communicate more efficiently." Wow, huh? Robert Scoble nailed it when he twittered that Lacy was asking too many business questions, and Zuckerberg was giving too many PR answers.
Some reports I've read point to sexism as part of the reason the audience reacted as they did, but I don't think that had (much) to do with it. Zuckerberg simply needed an interviewer more mature and experienced than he is, and instead he got one who was less mature. I'd never heard of Lacy before, and I wonder how many live interviews she's done in the past, or if she mainly works in text.
Back from the digression, a few items to note:
- Got to play with an XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child program at the session on the future of textbooks, which was fantastic. It's pretty neat; I hadn't realized it's a tablet PC!
- Kathy Sierra was incredibly inspiring. I went up to thank her afterward and had that nervously-interacting-with-a-celebrity-feeling(!), but managed to get out what I wanted to say.
- After two sessions for which I felt I'd got our money's worth, I went to the LOLWUT? session, about the story of Icanhascheezburger.com. Definitely the sleeper hit of SXSW. I think a lot of people expected it to be silly, but it was a coherent, informative, and all-around excellent presentation. Bonus: they bought cheeseburgers for the audience! Will blog more about it later, but funny factoid: all the librarians who'd been in the textbook session were there!
- The exhibit hall is small compared to library conference exhibit halls, but it's good. I got lots of cool stickers, a Mapquest T-shirt, checked out some interesting products, saw the most amazing mini-planetarium show, and bought the coolest flashdrive in the galaxy. Oh, and got some pens from the Google booth. They don't work. I'm trying not to read too much into that.
- It took being here two full days before we ran into a local with an accent. I haven't felt much like I'm in Texas, which I haven't visited before. Austin is a strange blend of cultures. I suppose that explains the exhortation to keep it weird. :) It also seems to have a certain Mom-and-Pop town feel that a lot of similar towns and larger cities have lost. I'm curious how much of this has been constant over the last 30-40 years, or whether there's been much revitalization involved along the way.
- The People-Powered Party sponsored by Threadless and Etsy last night was fun. I spent most of the evening chatting with a group of New Zealanders, including a couple who were here on their honeymoon! My breakfast waitress had mentioned them to me that morning, so it was funny to run into them.
- This morning, I went to see Crawford, about the impact of George W. Bush's move to Crawford, TX on its residents. Lots of humor, an inspiring history teacher, and some moving moments. It made me want to visit, though I'm not sure that was its intended effect!
- I am enjoying hearing words and references in sessions here that I couldn't imagine hearing at library conferences. :)
- I finally tried Guitar Hero in the exhibit hall. (There are Guitar Hero and Rock Band stations all over.) It wasn't pretty.
Until I get back, I have unprotected my Twitter updates
, and will continue to post most of my observations there.
I like being at a conference where:
- Wifi is provided, and the organizers know there would be a massive revolt if it weren't
- Sessions don't start until 10am
- You get a card that can be punched for a complimentary drink each day!
Yeah, it'll be a few years before AALL catches up! :)
Things I wish:
- That I had brought my messenger bag from SEAALL last year. I'm going to regret lugging everything around in the bag I brought by the end of the day.
- On a related note: that I had a MacBook Air and iPhone. Nothing new there, but between the PowerBook, clunky old camera, and cellphone, that would cut down a good five pounds.
And ha! Just as I was about to write that weight aside, I don't care so much that I'm using some of the oldest tech gear I've seen here, I turned around and noticed the guy behind me is also using a 12" PowerBook. Yay for PowerBooks!
It just may be the tens of thousands of bags, or to be more precise: all the waste in them. Check out this Cnet article
for a more awe-inspiring photo.
First thing we did after getting them was find a spot to sit down and cull the stuff we knew we had no interest in. Unfortunately, while there seemed to be designated junk areas, some large recycling bins would have been appreciated and more encouraging from a conference trying to go green.
One way to help? Go over to Emma Email Marketing
and vote for trees. If they get 1000 votes during the conference, they'll have 1000 trees plnated. (Emma is sponsoring this year's interactive lanyards, so I'm amused that I'm wearing my cat's name around.)
Just some random observations, reports, etc. from day one:
- Freeze-dried astronaut food strawberries are yucky. No, I wasn't the one who bought them!
- Austin airport is nice (much nicer than Houston), and MUCH larger than I expected.
- What is with the emergency vehicles? We stopped for three in the 7-mile trip from airport to hotel, and that wasn't the last of them.
- Speaking of driving, in the ten or so miles I've driven, I haven't encountered one scary/rude/aggressive driver. The pedicabs, however, are a bit of a pain to navigate around.
- It's just a bit below my comfort level to go without a jacket temperature-wise, but I love it.
- We had dinner at Ironworks BBQ. Contrary to what we had been told about Austin-style barbecue, there was sauce available. It was fairly cheap and quite good, with a great atmosphere
- The Macs:PCs ratio around the convention hall made me smile. Lots of iPhones too, making it harder to control the iPhone lust.
- Registration took so long that the only session we got to was Battledecks: watch your favorite speakers craft an off-the-cuff presentation using slides they've never seen before. . . judges will score the participants based on their use of jargon, gesturing and credibility. Some were more better others, but they all had some hilarious slides to work with (pics coming soon!). A library science version of the game could be highly entertaining, perhaps with slides inspired by Library 2.0 Idea Generator? Six Apart's Anil Dash stole the show. To start off, he left the room and made the audience welcome him back with a cheering ovation. Great tactic.
- I got a ticket to see Goliath in the film festival part of the conference with my colleagues who have film passes. I don't think I'd have enjoyed it as much without the audience, and I'm still figuring out what I thought of it. Is it merely trying to demonstrate the effect pets have on our lives? Is it also saying something about our society and the convenience of scapegoating sex offenders now that it's so easy to find out where they live? Some scenes dragged on far too long--this is the filmmakers' first feature-length project--but the ending seemed to work.
- First full day is tomorrow. Can't wait to meet the other librarians who are here at the LIS lunch!
Before I get into SXSW, which I do intend to record some notes about, here's a quick update on some of what I've been up to professionally and personally:
- Last week I spoke as part of a panel about Second Life experiences at SLA SARC IV in St Petersburg. Due to technical difficulties, I didn't have immediate access to the screencaps I'd brought along, and ended up speaking extemporaneously about Second Life for about 20 minutes. And I discovered I loved doing it that way, and feel like I did a much better job than I would have with the visual aids and/or a rigid outline. I've moved a little closer to the kill PowerPoint camp, though with a topic like SL, visuals are essential, and luckily I had a few minutes with them later, and the audience got to see a brief demo before my section.
- At SARC I finally got to hear Stephen Abram speak, and got inspired by him and a number of other presentations. As I told someone there, I love the law library bubble and we have a great time there, but it's nice to peek out into SLA world from time to time. SARC is a great conference--just the right size and duration not to be exhausting, and a variety of good presentations.
- And one more item from SARC: do not underestimate the power of knitting as a networking tool.
- Sabrina Pacifici will be visiting the South Florida Association of Law Libraries on March 17, and I'm excited about meeting her and seeing her present.
- My sister's wedding is coming up in a little over a month, and I'm getting excited about that. I'm even having dreams about the day going horribly wrong, though none of them have yet involved her new obsession with Guitar Hero.
- The wedding present is to be an afghan made from our grandmother's pattern--essentially 8 scarves sewn together. I am now halfway done with #8. This means I can start knitting other things again. First up: a pair of socks, of course.
- Did I mention I'm at SXSW? :)