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The Indefinite Article.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Thoughts on SXSW...

...Overall, it has been a very interesting experience. Some excellent panels, some not so much, but generally a positive experience. The funny thing is the level of clique-ish-ness. It's like, having been excluded from the cool kid cliques previously, these folks enjoy turning the tables. Or maybe it is just that the tech set is an anti-social bunch.

i have met some very interesting and talented people, and actually ran into Pat Ramsey! For those who don't know, Pat was a photographer at the (mostly) Daily University Star in the long distant past.

it's fun being back in Austin, which has seen some pretty amazing growth in the year of my absence. South Congress has bloooown up, and the south side is steadily being modernized. Even more striking is the fact that 'South Austin' is now 'Central Austin' due to the hyper-suburbization of both the north and south fringes.

Back to SXSW. I pretty much stuck with the design panels, and there were a few recurring themes. Love what you do, get offlinemore often, keep an 'inspiration file', etc. Those are the areas of general agreement, but there are some themes with camps on both sides. Whether to build for the oldest or newest browser and up/degrade from there, whether there should be a separation between work-life and life-life, and whether or not to specialize in a given area, or to be more of a generalist.

That last one is of the most interest to me right now (since i build for new browsers, and am working on life-separation) and has been a recent area of personal thought. I have heard strong arguments on both sides, but am leaning toward a middle-ish path, more on the specialist side. The idea is to become a 'T-shaped person': develop and practice a broad skill set (which is teh crossbar —), but have an area of deeper expertise that you focus on (the | ). i'd say i have a pretty broad skill set right now, just need to spend some more time on a few aspects. I think i would really like to focus on UI, which roughly translates into visual design, css and javascript. This is partly due to my genuine personal interest in these areas, and partly because there seems to be a really lot of opportunity for UI work out there.

And now it is all over but the crying. I am going to catch a movie tomorrow, and generally hang out. This has been quite an experience, and i'm looking forward to thinking about going again next year.

PS: photos when i get home.



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