SXSW Day 4: Fun, fun, and designing for people

The last day of SXSW tends to be less about substance and more about winding down after the long weekend and leaving on a positive note. In the morning I listened to Gabriel Jeffrey talk about his success with Group Hug. It was a fun session. He is also doing some interesting things with his weblog, such as linking each person’s name in the comments to a Wiki page. The other hilarious panel of the day was about online dating. The mix of backgrounds among the panelists made for a lively session, and with the tension between the panelists, topped off when Jonathon Abrams (Friendster) tried to hook up with fellow panelist Courtney Johnson (Tickle), you had to wonder if it was all an act. Somehow Lane Becker kept it all together.

The session by Jason Fried of 37signals was the exception to the above. For readers of their weblog, Signal vs. Noise, the content was familiar. It was a more formal presentation than their game show session from two years ago. I had to leave halfway through, but picked up good notes from Damon and the full slideshow is now online. Also check out the sample chapter from their new book.

Jason just posted some thoughts on the conference, specifically challenging the dominance of CSS and Web Standards this year.

“There’s way too much talk about CSS and XHTML and Standards and Accessibility and not enough talk about people. CSS and Standards Compliant Code are just tools — you have to know what to build with these tools. Great, I’m glad your UI doesn’t use tables. So what? Who cares if it still doesn’t let people achieve their goals. Web standards are great, but people’s own standards include getting things done (and that’s still too hard to do online).”

I agree 100%, and it’s something I joked about in my last post. I made the point more fiercely in an early draft of my day 1 post, but ended up editing it out. I’m looking forward to reading the comments on Jason’s post, and the other blog posts that will fall out from it.

Manton Reece @manton