Learning at South By

The following was cross-posted from the Beaconfire Wire.

Here are some of my favorite things I learned at SxSW this year.

  • I’m going to start sticking Post-It notes everywhere. My favorite note-taking app, Evernote, has an integration with 3Ms Post-It notes. You can take pictures of Post-Its, put them in a note, and do all sorts of fun automated things. This may take card-sorting and audience prioritization to a whole new level for me.
  • QA matters. “QA Best Practices in Today’s Digital Agencies,” will be the session that I talk about for months, perhaps years, to come. This wasn’t a geek-out about tools and ticketing software. It was an intellectual conversation on managing organizational structure and culture to ensure quality products get out the door. And it was crowded.
  • Librarians Rock. The Librarian contingent at SxSW made The Beacon their home away from home. And I couldn’t have been happier. The group of people we met with were incredibly passionate about learning and advocacy. They had a guerilla library. And by far the best swag. Yes, my friends, that’s a librarian beer-cozy. IMG_20140313_091321_766
  • Data ethics for data visualization is hard, but man is it important. “Truth Will Set You Free but Data Will Piss You Off” talked about the importance looking at data objectively. It also introduced me to my new favorite data visualization: US Gun Deaths in 2013.

What was the best thing you learned?

My South By Plan

Sweet mercy that’s a lot of awesome. When I wasn’t pulling a sleigh full of five year old children, I spent a snowy Monday, working on my plan of attack for South By Southwest. It took hours to flip through all the sessions and events — we’re days away from Austin and I’m already exhausted.

I’ve already got some things on the top of my list. First, the easy stuff. I’ve got two young children, so I’ve got little time for pop culture, but what little time I have is spent watching Game of Thrones, Girls and Comedy Bang Bang! Luckily all three are well represented. Check, check and check.

Since the fun is covered, the rest of my focus will be on what I want to learn for work. If you’ve read my blog on beaconfire.com (of course you have), you’d know that I’m a bit obsessed with the psychology of websites and the user experience. In fact, I’ll be talking about the topic as part of a UX panel at NTC next week (shameless plug alright!)

Some of the sessions I’m eying are straight up UX, but for the rest, I’m looking for insight into the human condition that might translate into better web experiences for our client’s users. These include “Surprise & Delight Campaigns,” “a Conversation with Julian Assange,” “Media & the Personal Brand,” “Search is Dead,” “Creepy to Cool”, “Engaged Brains” “Power of Wordplay”, “Everyone’s a Curator”, “I Ran a Successful Crowdfunding Scam”, and of course, “Something or other AND SHAQ!”

Yes, I realize I won’t have time to attend all of these sessions. Actually for each time slot, I’ve got a half-dozen sessions on my list and I’m sure I’ll get some valuable nugget from them all. But, I’m not worried. It will all work out. Besides, you know what they say. Man plans and Austin laughs.