What’s in a title? (SXSWi notes)

Imagination was to the fore at SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas over the last four days, not least in the titles of some of the sessions, and the swag handed out.

If the very thought of attending an event who’s title begins ‘How To Do (CSS/Email Marketing/insert whatever you like), or – even worse – ‘What Is (Blogging/RSS/The Long Tail? etc….) gets you reaching for the matchsticks to prop up your eyelids, then you’ll appreciate the following.

Design Eye For The List Guy

Yep, apropos of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, this was a SXSWi session on Monday where a website got a makeover from a group of design professionals, and not just any website, but the infamous Craigslist, the local listings site that’s now the 4th most visited internet property in the United States (there’s local UK Craigslists too if you haven’t checked it out yet).

What’s paradoxical (to some) is that Craigslist has prospered despite of its universally acknowledged ‘ugly design’ but creator Craig Newmark has an interesting rebuttal to this in that he champions “design that gets out of the way” and lets the community get on with using the website!

I actually missed this session as it clashed with another session I attended ‘What People Are Really Doing on The Web’ (not such a creative title but hey) but the Craigslist makeover presented is available here and Craig himself was in the audience as the assembled designers critiqued his baby and outlined how it could be improved without losing the spirit and simplicity of the original.

The links have aslo been archived here, and Auscillate – among many blogs – provided good coverage of the day’s earlier keynote where Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia interviewed Newmark.

How To Roll Your Own Web Conference

An honorable exception to the How To… blasphemy, this Sunday session title speaks for itself Rizla style, and was all about the DIY ethic as applied to conferences and getting the word out there.

Speaking of which, I went to Barcamp on Saturday evening, an un-conference where there were good discussions on WordPress (the blogging content management system this blogs runs on – thanks Matt!), blogging, open source web development built upon the WordPress platform and business models, among other things.

But the prize goes to…

Sunday saw the Flickr/Delicious/Upcoming party in the company of Yahoo! at the Iron Cactus, which was full up 4 days in advance (grumble) – but the best thing to come out of the party was the chewing gum freebies Flickr were doling out. The gum came in blue or pink, but the twist was in the wrapper which unfolded to reveal the message… ‘Blow Your Own Web 2.0 Internet Bubble’.

It’s the audacious titles that you really remember, so props to the Flickr pixies who came up with that one.

I’m off to the closing party here. More snippets to follow.


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