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SXSW presentations I wish I'd seen

At this year's South-by-Southwest festival, a panel discussion on ad-supported music degenerated into a shouting match, while Apple's engineering manager discussed the company's unique approach to design.

This year's South-by-Southwest Interactive seems to have reached a kind of critical mass, with lots of smart and opinionated people converging around a rapidly changing industry, creating the kind of excitement that used to be found at CES or (way back) Comdex.

This year's South by Southwest Interactive conference seems to have reached the kind of critical mass that used to characterize CES and Comdex.

Forget about Business Week reporter Sarah Lacy's awkward on-stage interview of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, which has been amply detailed elsewhere (although watching them might have been akin to the uncomfortable pleasure of watching a fight at a hockey game). I really wish I'd seen the panel discussion on ad-supported music. According to a posting on, it degenerated into a shouting match, with a Capitol records exec saying he needed more Internet promotion like he needed a root canal without anesthetic, RCRD LBL founder Peter Rojas dissing iTunes as irrelevant, and audience members yelling that Rojas doesn't respect intellectual property. (RCRD LBL is essentially a music blog with free music provided by bands as a promotional tool.)

There was also a presentation by Apple engineering manager Michael Lopp (aka Rands in Repose, he of the greatest guide to Vegas ever blogged), in which he discussed the company's unique approach to design--think painstaking mockups and brainstorming, both of which are taken seriously rather than treated as afterthoughts or mere team-building exercises.