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And the best SXSWi blogger is…Daniel Terdiman

After just a cursory look through blog postings, so far the person with the most reliable posts about SXSWi conference so far has been Daniel Terdiman from C.net news. Way to go, Daniel.

Here’s an interview with Jane MacGonigel about The Lost Ring. Here’s her keynote, the Twitter phenom, the Frank Warren of Postsecrets keynote, the Zuckenberg keynote 2008 disaster (plus several more posts I didn’t link to). For those keeping score at home, the Facebook CEO was interviewed by an incompetent journalist, causing riots in the auditorium. Here’s Steve Johnson and Henry Jenkins , an article about digital sporting events and a rumination about whether SXSWi is no longer cutting edge. (I will check out other wrapups, and maybe blog about them, but so far, Daniel’s accounts are the best of the year).

(I retroactively gave myself the award for my 2006 SXSWi accounts). Also, a group-edited blog from Wired gave some good SXSWi posts too. See this article by Lewis Wallace about the new calendaring application sched.org). See also this hilarious Bitstrips comic about the keynote disaster. Also, several bloggers from Opera provided extensive coverage of SXSW interactive. See also the official SXSW podcasts which will be trickling out over the next few weeks. (It will be my opportunity to verify which panels did indeed suck).

It is not particularly fun to liveblog a conference like this. You have to choose a small number of events to blog about Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict which panels or sessions or speeches will be noteworthy. Ironically, you can often process the information better when you are not taking notes. Wifi was much better this year, but instead all it did was cause people to do more twittering and web surfing. Maybe people are better at multitasking than I am, and maybe people start surfing/twittering only after deciding that the session is completely unremarkable. Some presenters are notoriously inefficient (I did not say “bad”) at delivering information.

The first 20 minute of probably every presentation was awful. First, they introduce everybody and their accomplishments (don’t care, don’t need that, just put it up on a slide). Then they talk about the history of the application/group/project (not interested, just get to the point). Then they make a joke about last night (so what), (obligatory 1-2 minute technical glitch), then they talk about how this application caught on (success stories are generally not interesting unless the subject of the panel is about how to market yourself). Then the last 5 minutes is spent zipping through 80 more slides.

Here’s what a successful presentation needs:

  1. Start with a bang: a good question or problem needing to be solved
  2. description of underlying thought process of starting this project
  3. some explanation of the market (or relevant research)
  4. demos/screenshots
  5. explanation of design decisions
  6. how they dealt with growth/popularity
  7. future directions/postmortems, etc.
  8. ample time for questions.

Part of the problem is that presenters compose their slides with little idea about how much time they actually have. (Who’s going to waste an entire hour doing a dry-run of their presentation?)

Lately many keynotes have opted for interviews with notable people. I guess this is acceptable. It stems from the VIP’s lack of enthusiasm for having to make up a new speech for every dang conference. Some journalists can pull it off before a live audience, but most of the time it sounds either fawning or like gotcha journalism (a la Tim Russert). I like it when two or three people are on the panel; that’s enough room and time for diversity of viewpoints without people having to rush through everything and fight for their time.

This year, I fell asleep during only one panel (it was a good one too).

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