I am typing on a laptop in the Samsung blogger lounge at SXSW. Given this easy opportunity to blog, I wanted to share the overarching theme for my experience so far (3 days in) to SXSW Interactive. Data. It is all about data. APIs exposing data. People visualizing data. Using data to make business and policy decisions. Graphing data to keep track of web site and application performance. Privacy of data. Crowdsourcing data. Data about social media behavior. And on and on!
It has been a common thread I have traced from session to session, conversation to conversation. I expect someone with less of a database and metadata fixation might see something else as the overall meme, but I have a purse full of cards pointing me to new data sources and a notebook full of URLs to track down later to defend my view.
I keep catching myself giving mini-lessons on archives and preservation of electronic records like some sort of envoy from another universe. While I feel like a strong overall tech person at an archives conference, I feel like a data and visualization person here. This morning two of my sessions were over in the same hotel that SAA in Austin was hosted in and it was strange to be in that hotel with such a different group of people. I have managed to connect with an assortment of digital humanities folks. Someone even managed to find space for and plan an informal event for tomorrow night: Innovating and Developing with Libraries, Archives, and Museums.
My list of tech to learn (HTML5, NoSQL) and projects to contemplate and move forward (mostly ideas for visualizations using all the data everyone is sharing) is getting longer by the hour. It has been a process to figure out how to get the most I can out of SXSW. It is definitely more a space for inspiration than for deep diving into specifics. Letting go of the instinct that I am supposed to ‘learn new skills’ at a conference is fabulous!