SxSW ’08 | The End of History (Not)

The grackle birds are out in full force in Austin. They are noisy and obnoxious, but I only visit with them but once a year, when I, like scores of other Californians, descend on Austin, TX, for Geek Camp, aka South By SouthWest 2008.

Young-ish trendy persons with laptops and iPhones and loosely slung satchels meander around the Austin Convention Center. Panels are being held, and the sun is shining (mostly), and the after parties are kicking, and film makers, musicians, designers, and geeks are all coalescing, as per the norm.

Last year, I chaired a panel bringing Brendan Eich (Mozilla/Firefox, and inventor of JavaScript), Chris Wilson (Microsoft/IE, worked on every version of IE in recent memory), and Charles McCathieNevile (Opera — a standards titan who travels the world working on standards) to the table to discuss where the Web was going. It was a great panel discussion which embraced spirited debate.

A year has passed, and PC Magazine thinks we’re about ready to usher in the “boring era” of Web browsers. Really? A little bit like the End of History, where things were supposed to be all nice and boring after the end of the Cold War, but ended up being anything but?

OK, look. I’ll be the first to admit that the term “wars” shouldn’t be used when talking about Web browsers. This year, when I agreed to do the panel again at SxSW 2008, I used the term “war” to pack the auditorium. But let’s be frank about a few things.

Things have been a bit acrimonious lately, especially when we think about the future of JavaScript. Brendan lobbed one at Chris about (and I simplify greatly) C# vs. ECMAScript in an “Open Letter.” Chris lobbed one back, claiming he was being sincere and informal and non-corporate. Then, of course, there’s the fact that Opera’s complaining about Microsoft — in court!

The point is, we still have a lot to talk about. There are still vibrant differences about where the Web is really going and people are especially interested in web access from mobile devices. I wish Apple’s PR people would let their guys participate, but we’ll have to party without them. Come to our panel at SxSW 2008! I promise you a good time.

2 thoughts on “SxSW ’08 | The End of History (Not)”

  1. Your panel was PACKED! Any chance that you have a podcast or notes from the session I wasn’t able to enter?

  2. Paul:

    SxSW will release a podcast of my panel at some point. Also, the Opera guys recorded the panel, but I’m not sure that they can publicly post it till SxSW approves. I’ll keep you all posted as soon as a Podcast becomes available.

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