Trending at SXSW: Sex; Anonymity; Free Sunglasses. (Also, Google Glass is definitely creepy.)

Chuka Chase, rocking the wood-grains.

Chuka Chase, rocking the wood-grains.

Southby! It’s that time of the year again, when gobsmacking masses of techies converge in the Texas capital for five days of drinking, trend-chasing, drinking, drinking, socializing, scavenging free barbeque, drinking, standing in lines, sporting the occasional pushup, and chasing the next big thing. Also, drinking.

The widely buzzed-about (or over-hyped, depending on your perspective) festival famously serves as a launchpad for emerging technology trends. The atmosphere offers a palpable taste of the zeitgeist — live at the time of this writing, at the Samsung Blogger Lounge, panelists dive into a live YouTube show, What’s Trending.

SX revolutionized the sharing economy when then-ramen-unprofitable AirBNB revolutionized short-term home sharing. It shifted social media when Twitter blew up, most famously with Scott Beale’s impromptu AltaVista party. It helped launch the musical career of impossible-to-spell-his-name-without-Googling-it Macaulay Culkin’s Pizza Band. And this year includes, among other highlights — not to be confused with Highlight — real-life Mario Kart racing.

Often referred to as “spring break for nerds,” attendees oft scour for the same thing as people at every other spring break: sex. And this year, in particular, there’s an app for that. Many apps. On the top of everyone’s mind is Tinder, whose popularity seems impossible to quell. Then there’s the gay ol’ standby Grindr, whose Saturday night party promises to be… interesting.

Then there’s social dating app Down, rebranded from the infamous Bang With Friends. Offering double-opt-in matchmaking with a twist, users swipe “down” on a person’s face if they want to “get down,” or swipe up if they covet a date. Finally, a solution to humanity’s greatest challenge: separating those who want to date from those who want to fuck. (Venture capital at work!)

Since everyone is getting tired of Facebook’s insistence on real names, anonymity is enjoying a moment in the sun. Most popular, of course, is Secret, among a slew of emerging apps offering freedom from the glaring eye of everyone you know in real life. From another angle, internet privacy matters more than ever, with anonymous web-surfing trending along with the launch of The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.

Something you’d expect to see a lot of is Google Glass — but tellingly, there’s a lot more Regular Glass (it’s still a nerd conference, after all), not to mention sunglasses. Free shades dance about ubiquitously, elevated to the status of semi-official schwag. (Sidenote: bright neon frames are in, slatted Wayfarers and their assorted knock-offs are out.) When I met someone yesterday wearing Google Glasses, my first question was, “are you recording this?” and he replied, exasperatedly, “why does everyone keep asking me that?”

Bonus trend: “gif” is now definitely pronounced “jif.”

NoThingsD: Tech Blog Severs Ties with Wall Street Journal. What’s Next?

Journalites no longer.

Journalites no longer.

As reported by Fortune, the influential team behind tech blog AllThingsD — chiefly, Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg — is severing ties with parent company Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal, at the end of the year. In addition, Mossberg will cease publishing his column in the newspaper, ending a 20-year tenure at the publication.

One can only speculate about the internal politics that led to the fallout. That said, the announcement leaves the fate of the brand, and the team behind it, in jeopardy, partiularly since Dow Jones will retain the rights to the “AllThingsD” monicker, as Swisher and Mossberg reportedly seek outside capital for what may be a new media venture.

Three predictions on what will happen:

1) Dow Jones will either nominate new leaders from within its organization to run the site, or, more likely, will bring in a well-known outside duo from the blogosphere to take over. It’s difficult to imagine a more coveted position for a tech journalist, but at the same time, when one considers the deep associations between the brand and the two leaders behind it, it’s unclear whether such a strategy would work.

2) Swisher and Mossberg will launch a new tech-focused media site. While traditional, “dead tree” journalism continues to stagnate (as John Oliver quips, citing the recent acquisition of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos during a widespread decline in print circulation, “there are more people buying newspapers than there are people buying newspapers.”), digital media focused on technology, has a proven history of receiving institutional backing — PandoDaily, TechCrunch, GigaOM, and BostInno, among others, stand among the funded.

3) Other tech writers follow suit. A number of the best tech journalists still work for traditional media outlets — Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic, for instance — but this needn’t be the case. If the team behind AllThingsD can successfully spin out of their parent company, I wouldn’t be surprised if they started a trend.

For additional coverage, see Matthew Ingram’s coverage on GigaOM.

5 Relatively Easy Ways to Run an Awesome WordPress Site

The wonderful world of blogging.

The wonderful world of blogging.

Running a blog takes work — writing the posts, reaching an audience, installing plugins, etc. — not to mention supporting it with the proper infrastructure. #sfbeta relaunched its website earlier this summer on a WordPress backend, and here’s what we advise so far:

1) Host your site on WPEngine — period.
WPEngine will pre-cache your site for faster load times, auto-update every new version, and run extensive back-end security to prevent hacks and exploits. Trust me, you do NOT want to be alone when your site inevitably gets targeted by some asshat 16-year-old-with-a-laptop in Russia.

2) Choose a responsive theme.
When a theme is “responsive,” that means it renders your content with a UI ideal for the reader’s device — whether a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. There are a bunch of responsive themes for free, and plenty for $10 – $50 on ThemeForest. Mobile and tablet traffic are really, really, really, really important, so don’t burn your potential readership with a rigid theme that renders like crap on half your pageviews.

3) Optimize for social sharing.
I recommend Facebook Comments, a share and tweet button for each post, and Facebook / Twitter widgets that show your follower count. Each of these will increase your traffic and exponentially boost your virality, while making it easy for your audience to share your work.

4) Get in the fast lane.
Optimize for speed and performance. Install a CDN, and make your site as efficient and zippy as possible with plugins suited to the task. Not only will slow pages annoy your users, but they’ll lower your standing with Google.

5) Make your site Google-friendly.
Set up Webmaster Tools and Analytics, and make sure that your sitemap is getting properly indexed. Search is a significant (if not dominant) driver of traffic, and must be accounted for.

Any other tips or tricks? Share them in the comments!