Strutting professors, student types scurrying to the Lawrence Lessig lecture, and ad-hoc projects in the hallway only begins to describe how overwhelmed a newbie like me could feel at SXSWi 2009. Add the speed dating concept to the notion of pop-up college and you begin to get a sense of the stress in finding the best lectures to attend.
It definitely pays to do one’s homework as there is some chafe in the wheat. Tinkerers Unite is one panel that had a bit of rocky start. The “core conversation” started to feel like a shameless plug for qik.com to one attendee who introduced herself by name, company then cried foul on the moderator, Steve Garfield for shilling product. Another quick witted attendee was on the spot with the retort, “Wait a minute; you gripe about this being an ad placement and then you drop another ad on us?” Blushed but undeterred the lady asked the crowd what their best hack in the past week was.
SXSW seems to be one of those rare opportunities for interactive designer types to crawl out of their private creative terrariums for a rare and valuable opportunity to cross-pollinate their ideas. I can’t say for sure if Bhaskar Roy of Qik Inc. had only selfish motives behind this type of flash-mob brainstorming as I had to catch a plane.
In the spirit of open-source collaboration, I could see something like qik.com mash-up pretty well with something similar to expert village or better still, iLike. Seems like a live stream of a private guitar lesson from Andy Summers could pay-off pretty well.