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SXSWi Day 3 - The "Death of" Panels

posted Mar 13, 2011 at 08:05:52 PM by Doug Gibson.

Day three (Sunday, March 13th) at SXSWi would be a long one. The days are hectic enough and I’d been pacing myself to last all ten days of SXSW by avoiding the night life thus far, but I decided to finally check out the famous 6th Street tonight. But until then, I had a slew of panels and talks to attend starting at 9:30am.

“Death of the Relational Database” was admittedly a sensational title (like many here) by Hank Williams of Kloudshare, but it was one of many talks relating to the newer distributed databases in the cloud. He admitted that relational databases are not dead, but perhaps “dying” slowly as the newer technologies become more viable and take hold in an area that has been the sole property of relational databases for 30+ years.

SQL is one of my stronger skills, so I thought it would be good to hear where things were heading in this area. Mr. Williams was a good speaker, but I couldn’t get past the many bad analogies that piled up one after another and especially his statement that databases really contained no relationships within themselves - that those were all maintained in the application layer. This is patently wrong for many databases, and bad practice to boot, however. He got my attention back when he spoke of scaling and sharding of data, but never really got into any specifics of these newer technologies than naming a few of the newer cloud database applications, so there were not really any answers to get out of the talk.

It was quite a hike to the Sheraton from the convention center to hear “UX Research and Web Analytics,” but it was an interesting talk about how usability testing and analytics can both be used in different areas, and how they can be used together to validate each other. The bulk of the talk was around specific case studies that illustrated where just usability testing had led the site astray, how analytics could be used to find usability problems (such as conversion rate anomalies), and how they could be used together.

“Bloggers Fight Back: Legal Workshop for Music Bloggers” was also in the Sheraton, making the long walk more worthwhile. This session was run by a couple of folks from Public Knowledge, including a lawyer, Michael Weinberg and Mehan Jayasuriya. It was an informative session that focused largely on the “folk copyright” that was perpetuated online and clarified the issues of posting music online for download or streaming (you need permission, and even then, keep an audit trail and make sure the proper decision makers are in the loop).

They also talked about DMCA notices and liability if you’re on a self-hosted platform. Anyone in the latter situation should head to copyright.gov/onlinesp/ and cough up $100something bucks to file that form to cover your ass in case users post illegal download links on your site. Otherwise, you are liable and can have your domain stripped without a DMCA notice, as those are technically meant for hosted platforms such as Blogger.

It was good to get some proper answers from a lawyer and some practical ones from Mehan when Michael had to hedge too much.

“HTML5? The Web’s Dead, Baby” was another sensationalized title. Really? Two “... is dead” topics in a day? This panel discussion used a statement of this nature by Wired about native mobile apps vs the web as a springboard for discussion by a panel of consultants and two Microsoft folks. The questions were a bit canned like the CSS panel the day before, but it was definitely more interesting than that one. Still, I took not a single note and there were not really any good takeaway points even though it was an interesting discussion. Native vs. web really depends what you want to do.

After heading in to rest up a little and change, I scouted out Emo’s at night, since I would need to know how to get there for SXSW Music - a lot of the metal shows and showcases I want to see will be there. That night they had a “Beercamp” competition going on. It was fun to watch and cool to be at a bar with all geeks and be able to strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone who didn’t have their face in a mobile device. The club is interesting... It seems a little barren and run down on one hand, but it’s very open and has a certain charm to it. The openness is fantastic for getting some fresh air and not feeling and smelling like you were stuck in a smoke box.

There was DJing in the “Beercamp” area and some decent, catchy alt-rock up front. Once the couple of bands I saw were done, they switched to playing some heavy metal through the sound system, which was cool with me, but that room quickly cleared out. I joked with the bar tender about running everyone out with it (as Slayer was playing) as I finished my free beer.

I walked up and down 6th Street to see what else looked interesting. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. The closest thing I could compare it to is Georgetown (in Washington, DC), but the strip was longer here and there were 18,000 people here for a conference. There were some pizza places that smelled so tempting, but I resisted. I stopped by Maggie Mae’s for a drink at the bar and then called it a night and caught a shuttle back to the hotel.


1 Reader Comment

1. brandedcfh420 writes:

all that geek tech talk lost me (as its chinese to me), but its a damn good article sir. keep them comin!!

# Mar 15, 2011 @ 9:21 PM ET | IP Logged

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