By Jason Cranford Teague. Jason is a professional designer, writer and speaker. Jason helps people design the web in creative ways to build a better future. He’s helped the W3C CSS Workgroup and SXSW.
‘Tis the season for SXSW . If you are going to SXSW, there are a few things you ought to know. This will be my fifth time at SXSW, and I’ve collected a few tidbits over the years that I’d like to share with you, to help you get the most out of the event. SXSW can feel like trying to drink a margarita out of a fire hose. If you go in with a regimented attitude, you will likely not survive the first two days (and those are the easy ones!). Relax, breathe, and read my tips.
1. Get the apps — Although they have their quirks, the mobile SXSW apps can prove indispensable for keeping track of your schedule and helping to track old friends and make new ones.
2. Check off everything you want to see — Whether you are using one of the apps on a screen or those massively convenient bundles of pressed wood pulp, check off every session that piques your fancy. Some people try to carefully schedule a single session for every time slot during the day, agonizing over their choices. Don’t do that. Don’t even look at the times. Just look for titles that interest you and put them on your list. Then you can choose the best sessions that interest you as the conference unfolds. You may choose one because of the topic or because it happens to be close to the last session you were in and you are tired, but it’s best to have options.
3. Get there early — One fact of life about SXSW is that you will spend a lot of time waiting in line. Whether it’s for registration, a keynote speech or that session you just can’t miss—the earlier you arrive, the less time you spend waiting in line. Plus, for really popular events, getting there late (or even on-time) may mean that the venue is full and you are left out in the cold. That’s not a problem, of course, if you followed my advice in #2, because you have back-up options. Just head to the next session on your list.
The hypothesis of augmented reality is this: lay an application or a game over a real world object in order to enhance the experience. Many potential uses for augmented reality are still on the drawing board. And we’re still really in the baby steps stage:
The arrival of smartphones, tablets, and head-worn computers like Google Glass—and improvements in the tracking technology that bedeviled Caudell and Mizell—are making augmented reality more useful, but it’s still far from commonplace because handheld gadgets aren’t that immersive and smart glasses are still pricey and awkward-looking.
But fashion and price don’t matter to companies eager for technologies to help their employees work more efficiently. The defense contractor Raytheon and the electronics maker Mitsubishi Electric, among other large companies, have been trying augmented reality in the workplace and out in the field. “Some companies are thinking, ‘Look, this is interesting enough, we’ll take some bets on it, we believe there’s a good chance. At least we want to have a first mover’s advantage compared to our competitors,’” says Soulaiman Itani, founder and CEO of Atheer Labs, which is making 3-D virtual reality software and glasses. The Mountain View, California-based company is working on some small pilot tests with companies—he won’t say which ones—to try augmented reality in hospitals, on construction sites, and in factories.
The thing is, this is WAY more than just an enhanced experience. This is taking real world work and enhancing people’s ability to get that work done. It could let a surgeon monitor a patient’s vital signs while they’re performing surgery. Or let a farmer measure soil, weather and crop conditions while surveying a field. Or help a delivery truck driver find their way through a maze of complicated streets with a head’s up display that literally has an overlay of where the next turns are coming.
The WebVisions and Institute for Social Good teams will be at South By Southwest (SXSW) for a week of social goodery. To kick off SXSW, an awesome group of designers, programmers and strategists will shove things in to high gear at the Hackathon for Social Good at Adaptive Path’s studio. With just eight hours to create a web site or application, the three teams will compete to create projects for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, W3C and the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation. The hackathon will be MC-ed by Ben Berliner of Change.org and Brad Smith, founder of WebVisions.
We’re also super excited to announce the first ever Social Innovators Summit, which will be held all day on Sunday, March 9th at Austin City Hall. An official SXSW event, the summit is a global gathering of the top innovators, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and activists in the world of “Social Good” and “Lean Impact”. This event will bring change-makers together to discuss the evolving and intersecting worlds of social enterprise, activism, and true global change. You can RSVP here to attend, and please say hi to our friends Ruben Cantu and Stephanie Bogus who are working hard to organize the event.
Throughout the week, team WebVisions will be at the Beacon Lounge (“The Lounge with a Conscience”), one of SXSW’s best hangouts – especially for non-profits and folks in the social good space. Check out the presentations, happy hours and fabulous LCD array featuring styled social media posts, photos and more, brought to you by our pals at Postano. The Beaconfire Lounge is open from March 7-11 on the third floor of the Austin Convention Center…note that your SXSW badge is required for admission.