Chris Walden here with a little Beatles for you to listen to while you read this:
As I look a the things I want to attend at SXSW I discover a few things... First is that there are so many interesting topics all happening at the same time so that no matter what I'm going to miss a lot! Second, is that I'm starting to see a lot of things presented in the technical world that I have never seen in the past. Usually I've seen a lot of bits and bytes... how to make things go... solve problems. In the SXSW schedule I see a lot of sessions about technical philosophy, working with community and other similar topics.
Technology has broken a lot of the boundaries that it had when I began working with it. When I got involved it was all run by a group of overlords. I took an interest in technology because I wanted to be one of the people who made things happen, not one who had to ask for permission. You want a computer and software, need to get a tech for that. Need to have something to help people interact, you need a programmer. Now, there are so many freely available tools and techniques that are easy to use that the overlords need not be involved. In fact, they have a pretty hard time keeping up with it all.
As a developerWorks editor (Linux and Open Source, remember), I face the challenges of figuring out how to take information that has largely been produced and consumed like a magazine and engage people who don't even use email... while not losing those with a background like my own. It's an exciting opportunity to find new ways to reach out to people and to express the information. My live video broadcasts and working more with things like Twitter are part of how I'm picking up new tools. At the conference I'm hoping to be introduced to many more.
Of course, Linux and Open Source people are not strangers to dealing with people through informal community tools. I learned just about everything I know in these areas without books, but through the conversations, blogs and examples provided to me through the community. Yet I see so much more potential, so many things that I haven't really thought much about because I was too busy "getting things done". There is a lot of material on things like "gamification". There are sessions on how all of these social tools are changing the way we interact forever. It's going to be a whirlwind of ideas and approaches that will all find themselves some way into the future of what I do with developerWorks. I'm especially intrigued by the ideas of building and maintaining community through technology.
In the spirit of this kind of sharing, I'm going to put up my schedule. If you are not a stalker, and you want to get with me on something, this is where I'll be. You have probably noticed that there are several points where I have multiple things at the same time. What I've done is just picked the things I know interest me, and I'll narrow them down as we get closer to everything. I'll update it. If you need to find me, just send me a tweet.