The diversity of the crowd at SxSW was great. I went to a lot of designer sessions, which I found refreshing and informative. I attended a session about creating a design team that Tjeerd Hoek of Vista was on along with some folks from Google, Intuit and Hoover. It was quite a congenial session, completely uncontroversial, about how to find and keep great designers. It also delved into the politics facing design teams in large organizations. For those of us in one, it was gratifying to hear others face similar challenges in cross group collaboration.
I also chatted with Sarah Bloomer about the process of design. She described a really great methodology revolving around how to get going with a design, basically around creating a narrative that has no user interaction aspects, then designing to fulfill that narrative. After the first design, creating a second design that disobeys any established technique in the first, looking for innovation. Ultimately, a merger of the two or three creates the best design.
Also chatted for a long time with Kristian Bengtsson from FutureLab who is also speaking at MIX07 about getting unstuck. (BTW, tomorrow is the last day for the early bird discount at MIX.) Our chat centered around XAML, which I have been thinking about a lot lately on a more meta level. XAML is the crux. Blend is the glue.
Here's a shot from above of what? Legos at SxSW.