SXSWi 2011 Microformats panel

It is that time of year again: SXSWi panel pimpage! I’ve put together a somewhat vague panel proposal on behalf of microformats.org and I would appreciate it if you could give it a vote.

Apparently voting only counts towards a relatively small percentage (30%) of whether or not it will be selected, but with 2346 proposals in the system, I suspect it counts a lot more than that.

The session is rather vaguely defined because I’m not really sure right now what’ll still be interesting in a few months. I also want to garner as many opinions from the community as they can about what they want to know more about, see speak or show off – so do make your voice heard in the comments.

SXSW submissions are a bit nuts, really.

The mega-conference happens in March every year. By the time you’re done clearing your credit card bill and the fuss on twitter has died down a few weeks after the event, it’s already time to submit proposals for the coming year with the deadline at the start of July.

That means you need to think about your proposal a good 9 or 10 months before the next event.

In my mind, it’s incredibly difficult to predict what will be a hot topic or really relevant 10 months down the line in an industry like ours. Things move incredibly quickly. I also find it very difficult to know what to vote for – I may find at the beginning of next year that actually, I really could have done with knowing more about The Latest Technique, but right now I don’t know what it is to vote for it.

I also worry that interesting topics that I don’t know about yet don’t have the community around it to rally support and get the votes. Inevitably, the topics that are most trendy or have the most well-known organisers/panelists will be the topics that get the most votes. They tend not to be the panels I’ve enjoyed the most, though. Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly hard to figure out which sessions are going to be great and which aren’t, since SXSW is just so big now – I think it has become quantity over quality. </ complain>

Anyway, not a lot I can do about that other than play along and attempt to include a session that I will attempt to put together at a level that I deem acceptable quality. I do want to see microformats.org have a representation there, so help me out, huh?

p.s. The spelling of the tag “microformats” as “micoformats” is not mine. It’s theirs. And I asked to have it corrected, but apparently their system doesn’t easily allow for that at the moment. WTF?

South by South West

I kept saying to myself that I will eventually get around to writing something about this, but being out of the office for 8 days and the best part of offline for 10 means I’ve just had too much getting in my way.

In short: South by South West was great!

First things first; our panel.

Well, it went well. I think. People have been nice and positive about it. Two main concerns generally were a) that it wasn’t exactly what we were billed to do and b) some people didn’t know what microformats were. Well, regarding point b – it wasn’t billed as an introduction to. We only had so much time, and we felt that those likely to want to attend this particular session would already have a foundation, or at least an interest enough to have read about them a little, in microformats enough to know what was going on. I’m sorry if you didn’t get it – I’m more than happy to give you an intro to if you drop me an email (fberriman AT gmail).

A photograph from PTG of the microformats panelAs for the first point. You’re right. We did do more of a history/what’s cool now, as opposed to looking deeply into the future. To be honest, it’s hard to know what’ll happen exactly. I think we did a good job in showing that take up has been brilliant and a lot of big names are getting involved with supporting and implementing microformats, and that there’s real ways you can start using microformats in your day-to-day internet experience.

How did I cope, I hear you ask? I was nervous as anything (particular thanks to Patrick who put up with me being the best part of mute that morning).

About 10 minutes before going on, we learnt that rather than being in a small room which I had somewhat managed to psych myself up for – we’d be in the biggest room (18ABCD). This means I was not at all prepared for the green lighting and the spotlights and the 700-odd people!

Tantek, Glenn and Mike were brilliant though. I’ve heard back from a few people who were genuinely really impressed with the backnetwork and Operator. Jeremy Keith joined us about half way in after a completely unplanned, but perfect, question which allowed him to show of his cool little bluetooth trick.

I did learn that I don’t like prepared speeches though. About 2 lines in, I realised I’d for some reason abandoned what I had planned to say and was making it up on the spot. I did not enjoy that. I did however really like the Q&A section. Having to think on the spot about what people wanted to know about seemed to have the effect of removing a bit of my stage fright. I suppose I prefer conversational tones.

Am I glad I did it overall? Yep. Would I do it again? No. Actually, yeah, I might… if I could do some more smaller things in the mean time and get some practice in, I’d consider it.

Other than that, SxSW was fun. It was a good chance to put some faces to names I knew online and meet a few new ones. Panel wise, I made a bit of an effort to avoid subjects in my field since I didn’t expect to learn that much and headed for more unusual topics. I went to quite a few of the game track (screenburn) sessions, and really enjoyed them. It was especially interesting to learn that they are having a lot of similar issues surrounding maintaining identities/networks in different parts of the web as we are. Also quite fun to know that OpenID is a topic for them.

I have more to write I think, but this is already a long post and late! “Hi” if I met you though, it was a pleasure.

SXSWi Microformats Panel Confirmed

The Growth and Evolution of Microformats panel at SXSWi has been added to the rather handy panel planner on the SXSWi site (shame it’s not marked up as hCalendar though – [edit] the panel picker has now been microformated!). It gives a little bit more of an overview about what it’ll be about:

In its first year, microformats.org ushered in the rapid adoption of key formats for publishing and sharing tags, licenses, contacts, relationships, events and reviews on the Web. See what new microformats are being developed for resumes, classified listings, music, and media, as well as how tens of millions of established microformats on web sites of individuals, companies, and organizations are driving innovations in desktop applications and advancing personal data portability

You’ll also note that the rest of the panel is announced too. We’ve got Tantek of course – *the* microformat advocate, and moderating the session. Michael Kaply from IBM is the man behind the Operator toolbar for Firefox, which in my mind is the most complete and fully functional addition for Firefox for detection and use of microformats. Glenn Jones is the only one of the bunch I’ve had the pleasure to have met before – he was 1 third of our microformats triple bill at the first BarCampLondon (along with Drew Mclellan and myself). He’s an implementor and created the backnetwork which is stuffed to the gills with microformats. He also presents on the topic, and did so recently with Destroying Walled Gardens at BarCampLondon2.

Then there’s me, of course. Makes me consider my place in the group though.

I mentioned this to a few people and they simply said that I was the human side of things. Possibly more down to earth and using microformats in day to day development. Not too many ideas of grandure and using them practically, and advocating and explaining them in simple terms to those who want to learn about them.

I’m also the most community involved panelist. That might not seem important, but when you realise that microformats wouldn’t exist without the community it’s a lot more. Every spec and decision made about microformats is done by an organic community of people, like myself, who are enthusiasts. It’s this organic growth thats let microformats spring up out of nowhere and gather speed and support so quickly.

I think it’s a good mix though, and I’m looking forward to the panel even if I am a touch nervous.