Monday at SXSW Interactive

The day began with the Hi Fi with CSS panel. The panel included Doug Bowman of Stop Design, Dan Cederholm of Simple Bits, Christopher Schmitt of and Dave Shea of CSS Zen Garden. Since I think CSS Zen Garden has transformed web design by showing people the power of CSS, I was glad to hear that this site won the award in its category in the Web site judging for SXSW. I haven’t heard if CSS Zen Garden won the SXSW people’s choice award, but if my daily vote makes any difference it surely will. Shea described how he wanted to make visually inspiring CSS designs, but also wanted to get community input into visually inspiring CSS designs as the impetus for CSS Zen Garden. Doug Bowman said he was experimenting now with the sliding door technique. He mentioned that experimenting with new techniques, even when they prove undesirable over time, helps to expand options and helps develop understanding that can be used in other situations.

A second CSS panel I attended was called The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and featured Brian Alvey of weblogs, inc, Kimberly Blessing of AOL, Doug Bowman of Stop Design, Tantek Celik of and Eric Meyer of Celik announced that CSS 2.1 is now a full recommendation on the W3C site and contains many fixes and should be used instead of CSS 2. Celik, who is famous for some of his hacks, said to avoid hacks when possible. He suggested that when you absolutely have to use a hack to keep it as far as possible from your markup or isolate it in a separate style sheet. He had some examples at His presentation is at Eric Meyer handled the “Ugly” part of the presentation and showed some sites that had a number of common CSS errors, especially the overuse of classes. Doug Bowman, who originated some of the commonly adopted image replacement techniques said that they have proven inaccessible and he would prefer that people did not use them. Brian Alvey talked about using CSS in Content Management Systems and Kimberly Blessing described how AOL has moved to using CSS for formatting their pages.

Howard Rheingold was the keynoter today. His latest book is Smart Mobs. He talked about mobile computing, pervasive computing and collective action through technology. He is a supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and spoke about the need to support that organization. His speech was highly intelligent and wide ranging. He talked about the effect technology that is mobile and even more powerful that many older computers is having on collective action.

I went to a User Experience workshop lead by Jeff Veen of Adaptive Path. He described a process for finding users’ goals for a site and then making sure that a site’s navigation and content match those goals.

It strikes me that many of the speakers this year have been deep and incisive thinkers, as much as they are technologists. Most of the speakers and panels have dealt with topics at a very high level of discourse that covered social interaction, political interaction, historical references, and scientific relationships in ways that expanded the discussion far beyond the boundaries of the Web or current technology.

During the evening, I went to the AIR Interactive awards party. My team did not win any of the AIR judges’ awards for accessibility, but we did win the People’s Choice Award (by an overwhelming majority!) Check the Knowbility web site for the list of winners in a few days, as I don’t want to mention them here until all the sites are available on the Web. Some of the sites in the contest haven’t gone live yet. There were 12 teams, not 10 as I thought yesterday.

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