Most of the conferences we have attended tend to be along the 2-3 days long, SXSWi is an marathon conference with 5 full days of sessions, panels, keynotes and of course parties; lots of parties. This makes for a long, but exciting week/weekend.
- The first session of the day, we both attended "Cloud Computing: Defining the Undefinable" which had Kevin Gibbs (Tech Lead and Manager for Google App Engine), Yousef Khalidi (Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft) and Werner Vogels (CTO of Amazon). They all started the presentation talking about how each company provides cloud services (Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services) and how each of these services are similar and different from each other. They delved into security topics, different kinds of clouds such as public and private, and how cloud computing is changing how services are provided to customers. An interesting note is that Amazon is itself a client of its own services and hosts all its sites using AWS. By far, our favorite panelist was Yousef, who clearly was on point, listened to the questions and answered directly and honestly. Werner was also an amazing member but you could see he had to sprinkle a bit of marketing speak in, being the CTO and all. Kevin seemed to be just a PR rep who ignored the questions and just talked about how cool App Engine is and how it will be even cooler in the future. Overall the panel was good and covered the services provided by the big three player.
- Next up was "Designers and Developers: Can't We All Just Get Along". This was another excellent panel, where they had both developers and designers talk about how they work together and what works and does not work. Interestingly, they had the panel made up of actual team pairs. They had Chris Lea (developer/architect at Media Temple and Virb) and Virb's lead designer Ryan Sims, they had Digg's lead architect Joe Stump and Creative Director Daniel Burka, finally they had Andy Beaumont (UX Dir, Flutter + Wow) and Rob Corradi (Creative Dir, NeonState) who have worked together in the past. This was a good idea because the pairs could use real world examples to discuss the challenges and successes of working as a creative/development team. Our biggest issue with the panel was that they had way, way too experienced people who have spent a cararee excelling in their field. This was especially true of the designers, since all three of them are expert HTML/CSS developers and UX designers. This created a problem because when some questions about why designers or developers don't work well with each other the panelist answered with blank stares or "you should get fire them." Ideally, we 100% agree, but the reality is that not all designers or developers are in same league as this panel. None the less, it was a great and interesting conversation.
- Aaron jumped over and caught the second half of Tuesday's keynote conversation between Guy Kawasaki and Chris Anderson. Chris has a new book "Free: The Past and Future of a Radical Price.". The talk was basically about this topic. Chris discussed his theory of free any why things will be eventually become free and that companies and people will have to offer free services or products to stay competitive. Why pay when you can get it for free. He sites the theory that if marginal costs become zero, the price will drop to zero. This is the exact reason why his book will be free in PDF format. For him to produce the PDF doesn't cost him anything, so it should be free. He'll make his money from hard back and speaking engagements. The book is a selling point, not his cash cow.
- During the Free session, James headed over to catch a Film panel with Richard Linklater (Detour Filmproduction) and Todd Haynes (Killer Films).
- For the last day, James took on a lighter load so that he could meet up with his friend Niki once he drove into town for the music part of the conference and due to the fact that he still had another four days of SXSW to attend to (recaps of SXSW music are poster at James' Awesomecon blog).
- The Last session of SXSW 2009 for Aaron was "Using GPS & Location to Enhance Social Networking" which featured Tom Marchioro (Garmin), Daniel Gilmartin (ULocate), Thor Johnson (GyPSii), Martin May (Brightkite), John Adams (Twitter), Bryan Jones (Mobile Blasts). The panel discussed the how new this emerging market is for location based services. The topics ranged from how would companies of this type make money. This topic concluded with Mr. Adamns listing a few revenue options for Twitter, such as enterprise types of accounts with more security, exclusiveness and possible certified accounts for celeberties. The other intresting conversation was around a standard API so that all these great services could communicate with one another. They announced a new working group revolving around Interoperability called OSLO which has the backing of currently 10+ companies. One new service that is very interesting is Google's new Location based service called Latitude, which allows other serivces to share the user's location. Another service that we were not aware of was Yahoo's product FireEagle