South By Southwest (SXSW) – Day 2

Lots of panels to visit. It’s a chance to see web heroes up close and personal. Most of the panels will be available as podcasts. Here’s the feed: Wireless access was pretty good, but I’m avoiding liveblogging the panels (obviously). I just wanted to collect some of my thoughts on my own time… Anyway, here’s a cursory summary and commentary of some of the panels visited.

A Decade of Style
Molly Holzschlag Pres, Inc
Eric Meyer Principal, Complex Spiral Consulting
Chris Wilson IE Platform Architect, Microsoft
Douglas Bowman Visual Design Lead, Google

More of a reflection on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and where CSS development is going from some pioneers of design. Question and answer session mostly… It was interesting to note how much knowledge was the panel assumed the audience would have. Talked through very advanced CSS techniques and nobody in crowd batted an eyelash. It made me feel like I was in the right place. The highlight was hearing Doug Bowman talk about the possibility of layout markup for CSS and the use of variables and constants in stylesheets. Brilliant, let’s see it in the CSS 4 spec.

How to Bluff Your Way in Web 2.0
Andy Budd Creative Dir, Clearleft Ltd
Jeremy Keith Web Developer, Clearleft Ltd

These guys were entertaining and hilarious. Much of the presentation was tongue in cheek, but poignant. We’ve been doing a lot of this web 2.0 stuff since Tim Berners Lee invented hypertext. Look at Amazon and Ebay – commenting, rating… If you have a chance, listen to the podcast available on the South by Southwest site. This was the first session where I heard of a call to kill “web2.0” as a term. Let’s start looking at the technologies on their own terms and not get lost in the broader semantic debate. There’s valuable stuff under the web 2.0 umbrella, but let’s get rid of the term. Good stuff.

Web App Autopsy

Moderator: Ryan Campbell Co-founder, Infinity Box Inc
Ryan Campbell Co-founder, Infinity Box Inc
William Flagg Pres, RegOnline
John Zeratsky Designer, FeedBurner
Josh Williams CEO, Firewheel Design

A nice chance to hear from the folks that built FeedBurner. That’s a solid web application. The panel evaluated the code behind top web apps, more of a focus on eCommerce apps which was pretty relevant to libraries. A couple of takeaways from the QandA: “The reality is that the marketplace doesn’t look like us (techgeeks); it’s about selling ease of use for your application.” AND “Here’s a new design principle: put as few barriers as possible in front of user (keep forms simple)”

Web 2.0 and Semantic Web: The Impact on Scientific Publishing
“new webtech and science publishing: (re)constructing the scientific article”

Second mention about an allergy to the web 2.0 moniker… This was a great session looking at how web 2.0 technologies – social bookmarking, tagging, RSS – are informing the design of online scientific journals and the way research can be conducted. There was an interesting discussion about traditional metrics for impact factors and journal power rankings. Blogs, tagging, active participation in soical networks are a different kinfd of impact factor within your field. The problem is how to reward and encourage this new kind of impact. What can you measure? PageRank, Trackbacks, Web Traffic, number of bookmarks, number of comments.. These new opportunities for measurements move much faster than traditional citation ranking metrics. I’m leaving quite a bit out… A quick takeaway from the QandA: How does the Semantic Web relate to tagging? Tagging is first step – translate the actions and definitions we are seeing into semantic web relationships.


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