SXSW II

Alice, asleep at her solitaire table, dreamed the cards had come to life. A similar surrealism pervades SXSW, where thousands of your favorite websites become friendly, noisy flesh.

The fun at SXSW Interactive is people. Every year there are more of them, from more places around the world. From Sydney and Stockholm and Tokyo they come, as well as from Denver and Dallas. Each year you ask yourself how much bigger SXSW can get before it starts to suck. Yet each year as it gets bigger it gets better.

This is, of course, a good time to be of the web, and so a special energy buzzes the halls and spills from the stages.

The people provide the kick, the buzz, the juice, but the panels and keynotes aren’t half bad either.

Sunday at 5:00 I led a session on How to Roll Your Own Web Conference. It went well and seemed to provide value, thanks entirely to my wonderful panelists.

(I have found that if you stack your panel with smart people with diverse backgrounds and points of view, the hour takes care of itself and everyone, including you, learns something. This is also the way I run Happy Cog: build a small team of talented people with complementary skill sets, articulate the problem you need them to solve, and stand back.)

Monday morning I’ll have the pleasure of contributing to DL Byron’s panel, Does Your Blog Have a Business?. I’ll also do a book signing and contribute a few nostalgic meanderings to the WaSP Annual Meeting. (It will be the first WaSP meeting I’ve attended since retiring from the group in 2002.)

The session I wish I could see is Carrie’s on Digital Preservation and Blogs:

The emergence of the early web, and of blogging, stands to be like early film; if the preservation of blogs does not begin soon, most of the initial output of this new medium and genre will be lost, and future understanding will be limited to the scraps that survive.This fall, a group of students in the Library and Information School at Pratt worked on a small project to preserve a handful of blogs. Join us as we discuss the technical, social and legal problems posed by this endeavor.

Anyone who has worked long and hard on a blog, zine, or web product realizes how ephemeral they are. (We are Ozymandias.) Preserving blogs is a multilayered task involving curatorial and editorial acumen, systems and programming skills, an understanding of copyright law, and more. If the preservationists do their job right, people 25 years from now will have some inkling of what we have created in this time. If they get it wrong, our work turns to sand.

See you in the hallways, comrades.