Jason Fried wrote a preview of what’s coming in Basecamp 3. Jim Ray noted on Twitter that “Basecamp vs. Slack will be interesting”. And suddenly I remembered that back in 2002, Jason, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, and I hosted a “peer meeting” on Simplicity in Web Design at SXSW.1 The meeting’s description:
As the Web continues to increase in complexity, many designers are looking to simplicity as a tool in designing Web sites that are at once powerful and easy for people to use. Join your peers and colleagues in a discussion facilitated by three working designers who are committed to producing work which is simple: obvious, elegant, economical, efficient, powerful and attractive. We’ll be discussing what simplicity in Web design really means, the difference between Minimalism as an aesthetic and simplicity as a design goal, who is and who isn’t simple, how you can use simplicity to your advantage, and plenty more.
It’s fun to see those two going at it more than 13 years later, still focused on harnessing the power of simplicity to help people get their best work done. (I don’t know what the other guy’s deal is. He’s doing…. something, I guess.)
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Fast Company presents an oral history of the SXSW Interactive Festival.
Within SXSW Interactive’s march from obscurity to prominence is the story of digital culture itself. SXSW was a hive of activity for early web denizens and hackers around the turn of the century, and a birthing ground for the social media revolution that reshaped modern life in the second half of the ’00s. Its emergence from the shadow of the music festival it grew out of mirrors the transformation of geeks into modern society’s newest rock stars.
I went to SXSW a handful of times (maybe five?), met my wife there, and even keynoted (w/ Dooce) in the big room (which was, in my memory, a disaster of Zuckerpudlian proportions). Paul Ford noted on Twitter:
Wow this is just a tiny bit The Oral History of Talking About Yourself.
Totes get that, but South By1 distinguished itself in the early days by being a conference where anyone could participate. Attendees took ownership of this conference as they could not at the other big web conferences of the era. Everyone was someone, everyone was nobody. (I mean, not literally — the Jeffreys (Zeldman and Veen) couldn’t walk three feet without someone engaging them in conversation. But you get my drift.) As on the personal web of the late 1900s and early 2000s, you were the focal point of SXSW, for better or worse.
A marketing company is using some of Austin’s homeless population as roving pay-as-you-go wireless hotspots during SXSW. The project is called Homeless Hotspots.
Homeless people have been enlisted to roam the streets wearing T-shirts that say “I am a 4G hotspot.” Passersby can pay what they wish to get online via the 4G-to-Wi-Fi device that the person is carrying. It is a neat idea on a practical level, but also a little dystopian. When the infrastructure fails us… we turn human beings into infrastructure?
Matt Haughey’s SXSW talk, Real World Moderation: Lessons from 11 Years of Community, was quite well received so he posted a version he recorded at home to Vimeo.
After 11 years of running MetaFilter.com, I (and the other moderators) have been through just about everything, and we’ve built dozens of custom tools to weed out garbage, spammers, and scammers from the site.
I’ll cover how to identify and solve problems including identity, trolling, sockpuppets, and other nefarious community issues, show off custom tools we’ve developed for MetaFilter, and show you how to incorporate them into your own community sites.
Proposed SXSW panel: a suck.com reunion organized by Ana Marie Cox, aka Ann O’Tate.
While its sarcasm traits set Suck apart from the great majority of (painfully earnest) West Coast-based technology “ezines”, Suck’s lasting legacy is only partially based on the words it contained. Rather, Suck changed forever the way people think about writing for the web — they perfected, if not invented, the practice of embedding links not as explanatory reference points but as commentary in and of themselves. Suck imploded rather unspectacularly, but its journey offers lessons: From purchase by a deep-pocket media company (Wired) to a quick-hit book project, to its ultimately deadly jump into crowd-generated content. Is that a cycle most indie projects are doomed to complete? For a publication devoted to debunking Panglossian outlooks on the mediasphere, a shocking number of Suck alumni have turned up, closing on two decades later, as influential, even aspirational, figures in their own right, with careers based on bridging the still-extant (if narrowing) gap between old and new media.
As I told a friend a few months ago, if someone launched a site with Suck’s voice and spirit today, it would *kill*. (The Awl comes pretty close.)
I’m going to be away for a couple of weeks, but my pal Greg Knauss is taking over posting some remaindered links while I’m gone, aided by special guests David Jacobs and perhaps even Anil Dash.
Greg was the very first guest blogger here on kottke.org (and perhaps the first guest blogger ever anywhere) back in March of 2000 when I went to SXSW and they didn’t have wifi at the conference (nor did I have a laptop). Good times, back then.
When I get back, house on fire.
Early photo of Pyra Labs, circa 1999. Ev was on the startups panel this morning at SXSW, which was excellent.
Through an improbable series of clerical errors, I am scheduled to participate in a “keynote conversation” about professional blogging with Heather Armstrong at SXSW in Austin, Texas next month. Armstrong, so the story goes, got fired for blogging at work and was rewarded with a loving husband, cutie-pie daughter, photogenic dog, several television appearances, hundreds of media mentions, and a new job — talking about poop all day — that supports her entire family. And so but by the way, she’s also headlining the entire SXSW Festival along with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Neil Young. Which makes me approximately chopped liver. When I told Meg about the headlining thing, she said, “boy, that conversation had better be good”. Pressure’s on, Heather.
To sum up, a piece of chopped liver will be having a chat with a nice lady from Utah next month about blogging for groceries. Should be fun.