SXSW, HiEdWeb and Fishing

SXSW is to fishing Niagra Falls, as HiEdWeb is to fishing Lake Erie. I need more of a shooting-fish-in-a-barrel approach to conferences and learning; smaller classes with professional teachers.

HighEdWeb 2011 Wrap Up

Every year I go to HighEdWeb I write a pre- and post-conference blog detailing what I want to see, and what I actually saw. I wrote a pre-conference blog back on October 2, 2011 – Looking Forward to HighEdWeb 2011. Let’s start with a review of last year.

Review from HighEdWeb 2010

Last year I summerized my predictions with the following:

What are the lessons for next year? High Ed Web 2011 will be in Austin, Texas. We should be able to send two people next year. I’ll go out on a limb and predict the hot topics next year. Semantic content (Web 3.0) for mobile, desktop, vehicles, televisions, toasters, etc. (We can make content inter-operable; maybe using a CMS.) Location-based (geo-loco) applications with a side of augmented reality or geo-fencing. (Facebook Places exploded this year. Foursquare has the most users, for now. Gowalla is based in Austin.) HTML5 and CSS3 are growing, even if at a slow pace. (The W3C made an announcement about holding off deploying HTML5.)

Hits and Misses

Semantic web was a topic at the conference, but it was more of an underlying theme of the HTML5, mobile and accessibility topics. Mobile and accessibility were hot topics. Of the 70 talks, 13 (18%) had mobile in their title. There were 5 talks (7%) with accessibility in the title including Shawn Henry’s keynote, Embracing Accessibility – Go for the Carrots.

The CMS vendors where there en masse: Hannon Hill, OmniUpdate, Campusuite, Jadu, Ingeniux, TERMINALFOUR, Zivtech.

The big 3 geo-loco company’s weren’t a hot topic, but SCVNGR, Google Venture’s geo-loco, made a surprise appearance. Jadu, sponsored a SCVNGR hunt – where we had to collect check-ins with the other vendors at the hotel. SCVNGR sponsored Tuesday’s keynote – Better Education through the Web with Chris Wilson from Google.

Your Own Backyard

Having the conference in Austin this year, I didn’t have far to travel. When I introduced myself it was followed by, “it’s 90 miles that way” and I’d point towards the northeast. Austin felt like Austin, comfortable, relaxed, fun. The two evening events weren’t spectacular – no “Karaoke Plane” moments happened – but I had fun watching the World Series (Go Cards!) with other high-ed folks. I played some pool, ate some food, drank some drinks, and talked a lot of shop with a lot of people. Two dinner spots worth mentioning are P. F. Chang’s and Fogo de Chao.

The launch party for LINK magazine was at Buffalo Billards. The Tuesday night excursion was at The Highball.

Remember the three rules of the office (or life):

  1. Don’t put your tongue on it.
  2. Size does matter.
  3. There are stupid questions.

Looking Forward to HighEdWeb 2011

Let’s review for a minute. From my HighEdWeb 2010 Wrap Up:

High Ed Web 2011 will be in Austin, Texas. Our department might send two people next year. I’ll go out on a limb and predict the hot topics next year. Semantic content (Web 3.0) for mobile, desktop, vehicles, televisions, toasters, etc. (We can make content inter-operable; maybe using a CMS.) Location-based (geo-loco) applications with a side of augmented reality or geo-fencing. (Facebook Places exploded this year. Foursquare has the most users, for now. Gowalla is based in Austin.) HTML5 and CSS3 are growing, even if at a slow pace. (The W3C made an announcement about holding off deploying HTML5.)

Semantic content is a generic way of saying well-formed, valid, well-structured coded-content. HTML5 is another attempt at semantic markup language with some juicy improvements thrown in. In 2011 more work was done on HTML5 and CSS3 so that we can start to see the benefits of using them on sites. This blog’s theme is written in HTML5, and I’ve used CSS3 – sparingly – on a few sites.

In early 2011 Chevy came out with the Cruze, a car that can read your Facebook wall – the Chevy Cruze commercial debuted at the Super Bowl in February. The Cruze also has an app: you can remote start your car from your smartphone. Of course all of the game consoles and “smart” TV’s can connect to Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, etc.

The geo-loco thing is like Twitter – it’s there but not everyone is using it. The big thing for Twitter this year (and years past) was real-time news updates and celebrity tweets. Some of the top trends were #winning, #tsunami, #Libya, and of course #MBteamS.

Mobile devices and the content we serve them is another hot topic. Tablets like the Apple iPad or Android Tab or Blackberry Playbook are all the rage and they present yet another challenge when it comes to serving content to a small-er screen. A few years ago, smartphones were the big kid on the block and we rushed to make code semantic and adjust to their small size. Now tablets introduce another size and the ability to behave like a desktop or a mobile phone; coders bang your heads here.

Along with mobile devices of various sizes running apps and visiting websites came along the idea of progressive enhancement. PE has probably been around a long time – lurking in a dark corner next to “best-practices” – but it’s new to me. I’d like to see a presentation or workshop on PE and how it relates to semantic HTML5 and CSS3.

As it turns out two of us are going to High Ed Web 2011 this year. In a strange twist of events we hired a new programmer, and he’ll be tagging along with me. We also implemented a CMS in 2011 – Hannon Hill Cascade – so we’d like to meet other Cascade users. We will be going to Atlanta for the Cascade User Conference, but that’s another post.