Trying to find the literary in the first round of SXSWi panels


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South by Southwest Interactive, the wired component of the Texas media conference that famously began with music, then added film, has announced its first batch of panels. They’re fascinating -- but they’re not particularly bookish. The publishing industry may be going through tremendous upheavals involving technology -- ebooks, the Kindle and its competitors, digital distribution, online marketing -- but those changes may not make many ripples in the greater tech landscape.

That said, there are certainly some smart, tempting panels that are connected to books, through the participants, a discussion of web content or of new ideas about narrative. Here’s a brief overview:


Why Keep Blogging? Real Answers for Smart Tweeple. Organized by Emily Gordon, who has been blogging about the New Yorker at for years, this panel is set to include Scott Rosenberg, author of ‘Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters’ and Ron Hogan, longtime writer at the publishing industry blog Galleycat.

New Publishing and Web Content. This is organized by Jeffrey Zeldman, web designer and author of ‘Designing with Web Standards,’ released in its third edition released today. Zeldman, who began writing his witty, readable design website A List Apart many years ago, is turning his design skills toward words. The panel promises to ‘explore the creative, strategic and marketing challenges of traditional and new (internet hybrid) book publishing and online magazine publishing.’

How the Other Half Lives: Touring the Digital Divide. Set up by Vermont librarian Jessamyn West who blogs at, this panel will address questions of the digital divide from the real-world perspective of librarians who confront it daily.

Design Fiction: Props, Prototypes, Predicaments Communicating New Ideas. This panel takes on the forward-thinking idea that fiction and narrative exist in dialog with physical design and communication.

Indirect Collaboration: Collective Creativity on the Web will focus on collaborative design, rather than the perhaps more intuitive collaborative storytelling, but the ideas may cross over.

-- Carolyn Kellogg