Well, here I am at my second-ever SXSW Interactive and I'm jazzed. Started it off yesterday by standing in the long badge-pick-up line -when I got there, the line wrapped around the inside of the building and was longer than I've seen it at any time since, of course. (My daughter was with me, so her reward for being good in line was a stop at the Interactive Playpen a bit later.)
After making it through the line, though, I was able to get to my first panel titled "Career Rev 342: Dabble, Dabble, Toil and Kick A__" Described as a talk about the benefits of being a n00b, it turned out to be appropriate to get in the right frame of mind for a varied conference like this. There's everything here from deeply technical code talk to design or from virtual worlds to teenage online usage. My main takeaway from the talk was a reminder of how important it is to your career, and what a benefit it can be to those you serve in your career, to step out of your comfort zone. For instance, if you're a web designer and all your friends are web designers, you're likely to design for each other and lose sight of all the end users out there who don't share your same sensibilities, likes and dislikes.They suggested that while here at SXSW everyone attend at least two panels that have nothing to do with what they currently do in their career. I think this is sound advice. I followed that last year and learned so many new things that may not have been directly applicable to my daily job, but were still beneficial. An example was the panel on Ajax vs. Flash. While I don't directly design or program in either and it got a bit technical for me (over my head), I do make choices about the pages on Dell.com that I'm responsible for that were improved by knowing more about the two.
Sometimes it works well like that. Sometimes it doesn't. I'm writing this during my first panel session of the day today, and only half listening primarily because the speaker is so unenergetic. There are probably some good takeaways I could glean at "Rome, Sweet Rome: Ancient Lessons in Design," but the presentation is too professorial. Later, I'll try to read the book she referenced.
But for now, on with the search for those little nuggets that will not only help me, but hopefully help those of you who visit Dell.com by broadening my perspective and bringing forward new ideas.