The Personal Disquiet of

Mark Boulton

Annual Jaunt Across the Pond

– March 16th, 2007 –

SXSW 07 logoWell, it’s all over for another year. This was my third year at SxSW and despite being ridiculously sick during the first couple of days, it was probably the most interesting. I’m choosing my words carefully there.

There is little doubt that SxSW is growing at an alarming rate. I heard some people say there were close to five thousand attendees to the Interactive Festival alone this year. That’s an awful lot of people. In fact, for the first time, I wasn’t allowed into some of the panels due to lack of space. That hasn’t happened to me before and this year it happened three times. Too many people or just small rooms?

Too much Navel-Gazing?

I don’t mean to gripe, really. Maybe it’s the jet-lag, but I have come away from this years SxSW feeling a little odd. On one hand, it’s nice to see more panels being devoted to graphic design, user experience and content. As Zeldman pointed out yesterday, I too felt a little out of place last year having not recently launched, been bought out, or selling my latest, greatest web-app. This year, there was more talk of the craft of web design and I think that is great.

The other side of me is a little disappointed though. Not with the quality of the conference but with a general feeling of navel-gazing with the attending crowds and panelists. More so than previous years, I felt a lot of the panels I attended were preaching to the converted, or worse still, to your mates. Maybe I was guilty of that too? And what is the point of that?

All grumpyness aside, I really enjoyed catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. This is really the highlight of SxSW for me. Even though I didn’t make it out to many of the parties whilst I was still nursing my sick throat, I did manage to make it to the bowling (where a few of us manage to surprise ourselves and make it through to the second round), the EllisLab party and of course the Great British Booze Up.

Grids and Typography

The presentations I had to give went well. First off, Grids Are Good, went down a storm on Saturday. I just wish we had more time. All credit really must go to Khoi on this for the amazing amount of preparation he put in. Like I said, I was still nursing a raging headache, a fever and a sore throat and it really was touch and go in the Green Room. Never-the-less, it went well.

Web Typography Sucks, presented with Rich, went very well on Tuesday. I was feeling much better, relaxed and confident and the time flew by. I was pleased we’d left plenty of time at the end for questions—there really didn’t seem to be enough of that this year. The slides are up online and the podcast will follow no doubt.

Next year?

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p> I’m looking forward to next year. I’m hoping for a few things:

  • The continuing rise of the graphic design based panels and presentations from designers who know their shit on this medium. One on Art Direction would be great next year.
  • More practical presentations. We don’t all know everything ok? Personally, I like going to panels and presentations where practical things can be learnt. We all don’t have oodles of time to sit and read books and blogs all day. Sometimes, bullet-points are good.
  • No illness. It’d be nice to be well next year and I’ll be able to enjoy some of the parties. Who knows, maybe Mrs B. will be in tow too.

So, if I didn’t meet you this year, then I hope to next year. If I did, nice to see you again. Just a shame we have to wait a whole year.

Filed in: personal.

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