SxSW: Recap part I


Got in and was welcomed by stormy weather. Had a great dinner with Bill and Helen. Ended up only mildly buzzed after starting out ripped about a hundred ways to jesus. Thank god for a massive fish steak that soaked up all the bourbon. In bed by midnight-esque.


Woke up and fell back asleep. Laid around. Rested. It was fantastic. Started to get The Panic for Battledecks II, where I was a competitor. (UPDATE: Some of the slides here.)

Upon arrival at the room, I met my competitors, who were all amazing and scary smart. First up was George Kelly (flickr), winner of the previous Battledecks held in 2006. None of us had looked at our slides (so I heard), but about 10 seconds into George’s slides, the contestants were all feeling like it was over. Clearly, we were in the presence of a master presenter. The best part about George’s slides: Clogs. A lot of them. He ran with it referring to LiveClogging as the ultimate mobile platform. Brilliant and unflappable. Funny as hell in how serious he was about presenting.

Slides were something like this (and this), with each contestant having 5 minutes to get through 10 slides. Here’s one of mine. Yep.

The other competitors in random order:

Mike Essl (flickr)

Molly Steenson (flickr)

Sarah Szalavitz (she works for Veoh). Hers was my favorite if only for the Dig Dug video game slide and how she played it… Very well.

Anil Dash (winner!) (Vox)

Ted Rheingold (he of Dogster and Catster) whom had just arrived in time to present from the airport. Very very pro.

Rob Weychert, with impressive ecosystem-supporting beard (flickr)

Here’s a portion of Anil’s presentation. It starts after he demanded a reception that he deserved and came back in to thunderous applause. His persona for this presentation is spectacularly brilliant:

I don’t think he’s that big of an asshole in real life.

Afterwards I tried to calm down, we had dinner with half the internet at Moonshine and then hit parties and got wasted. Got to bed around 1am or so. Yes, I know. Amateurs. We are parents, people. I’m old-ish.


Saturday we slept until 9 or so and after breakfast, we went to the meetup at Halcyon. Who were nice until some dude showed up and was very upset that we were there, asking us to vacate, which we did. Fortunately, the weather was fantastic and we got to meet a lot of amazing people. You guys floored me. All of you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you.

Despite the rudeness at Halcyon, they make a killer Bloody Mary. Trust me.

After the meet up we hit Las Manitas for a very late lunch and back to the hotel for naps. Which didn’t happen. Heather prepped for her panel with Maggie while I caught “Blood, Sweat and Fear: Great Design Hurts” and “Worst. Website. Ever.: That’s So Crazy, It Just Might Work”. Both were great panels. It was interesting to get a snapshot into Apple’s process and hear Gruber talk about design. In the latter panel, I really enjoyed watching some of my favorite web personalities pitch insane companies. Merlin Mann can unleash jargon like “open the kimono” and “we’re not going to boil the ocean” with aplomb and abandon. All the presenters were excellent and it was a good day, despite being exhausted and needing a nap.

We went to dinner and then hit the 16bit party wherein we largely ignored the freak show (bad audio and kind of cold outside) and then danced like freaks when the DJs hit the stage. We left at about 1:55am, getting in bed by 2:30. Until we realized that it was really 3:30 due to the time change. Pain. This party pretty much destroyed me for the rest of the conference.


Not quite as hungover as I thought I’d be, but still not optimal. We got brunch in the hotel and hunkered down for show prep. Heather and Maggie’s panel/presentation, “Content Boundaries, a 12-Step Program” went very well and had some great pointers, even for internet veterans.

People always seem so shocked when Heather shares actual awful email. I wish that she could do it every week in front of people, just to hear the reaction.

Afterwards, we met a bunch of awesome people and then retreated to the Iron Cactus for snacks and free drinks courtesy of Yahoo! We then went to Artz Rib House for amazing ribs. Amazing. Then to the hotel bar for cocktails where we met some more awesome people and bought rounds of drinks that made me comatose. In bed by 12:30 am. And barely so.

More tomorrow. After a nap.