SXSW: The Bloody Recap

SXSW: The Bloody Recap

And only a week late. This blurb is not so blurby. It’s long. If you’re tired of hearing about SXSW, skip this one. Please. For the children.


Drop off Leta in full winter garb and fly. Arrive in Austin to sweltering heat. Register and check-in at the hotel. Hotel room has air conditioning set to temperature that Heather finds a touch too warm still. Thermometer reads -20° F.

Head out to the parties. Hit the giant frog design party. Spent $5 on a cab (including tip! Austin is already treating us right!) and decided to bail to cozier environs to another party, or at least what appeared to be another party and milled about a star-studded, sweaty Iron Cactus. I met a ton of people that night. A ton. It was crazy the web talent in the Iron Cactus that night. CRAZY, people. If that club was a plane and it crashed, we’d have all been screwed in a big way. Thank God it wasn’t a plane. And thankfully, once we moved upstairs, the heat lifted a bit and we stayed until 1:30 a.m. or so. 30 pounds was lost to sweat. Good thing I brought one short sleeved shirt. That I didn’t wear that night. Sweet.


I wake hangover-free! The water strategy paid off. The flip flop strategy also paid off. I suggested to Heather she might want to pack her flip flops (as I was stashing mine in the luggage). Definitely a good move. We woke at around 8 and went down for breakfast. Ran into Henry Copeland and he graciously shared his table. After breakfast we got ready for the day and took off for an interview with the CBC, meeting Jason Kottke (I’m trying not to drop names, but come on, it’s SXSW) and keynote prep. My role for the trip was largely as assistant to Heather. Making sure she had water and shoes and whatever else she might want or need. Calling on my best Grandpa Gear insight, i lugged our carry-on computer bag with laptops, flip flops and supplies. It worked well, but everybody I spoke with thought I was heading to the airport. A web 1.0 RSI-related shoulder injury means that backpacks aren’t my friend.

The nerd bag, Heather and I all rolled into the convention center where I got to meet Kottke. Meeting Jason was lovely and made me more excited for the keynote. Once Heather had what she needed, I took off for the keynote (link goes to edited high-bandwidth QuickTime clip) about ten minutes or so before it started. It was getting full and I lucked into a seat on the front row, which allowed me to take a bunch of flash-free shots. None of which I’ve posted, but a bunch of other people did, so I kind of figured it was pointless to post yet another image of the keynote, especially since the haters are enraged by the photos. Wouldn’t want to further enrage the asshat haters, right?

Or would we?

photo taken 10 minutes prior to the start of the keynote

After the keynote, we headed into the Bloggers in Love panel which had some interesting dynamics and discussion onstage and in the audience.

After that session we hit the Flickr, Upcoming and party at the Iron Cactus. The free food and drinks started it nicely and the upstairs balcony was so pleasant I didn’t want to ever leave. I do recall wanting to throw the camera off the balcony after the 50th photo moment was lost due to camera malfunction1.

We decided at some point to get seafood at the Boiling Pot with Mena Trott (who I met for the first time) and Tom Coates (who I also met for the first time) and another guy whose name I forget. This was after Ben Brown smoked my pipe. There were some choice bits at dinner, one of the best came from Tom, surveying the damage on the table: “It’s like an orgasm of bits!”

He was right.

Then we went to the blogads/PBS/Pulse party (we missed Fray Cafe [link goes to Scott Beale’s photos of the event. Scott has a great camera and some sweet lenses and most importantly, takes great photos]), had still more drinks and then went home relatively early so that we’d be ready for another go go go day. The parties. They do not stop.


We had to get up early for a 10am panel looking at the Cluetrain Manifesto that Heather was taking part in. I thought it went well, despite Heather’s misgivings about her level of nerd. Of note was the mention of her daily photo link text which tells visitors which camera she uses. There has never been payment for this line of copy, despite it’s prominence and despite our ongoing difficulties with the camera2.

After the panel, we headed out for Halcyon, where we met several dozen readers of dooce. I wasn’t sure what to expect, having never been to formal gathering of readers outside a book signing or reading. I expected a much smaller place (Halcyon was perfect) and that we’d overrun a tiny coffee shop. There was plenty of seating available and near as I can tell, everybody seemed pleased to be there. I was concerned about this guy writing furiously in his notebook, but he turned out to be a reporter from CNet and proved legit. They posted photos and a largely favorable story about the meetup.

The internet can be a weird place. Going offline and meeting people in the real world can be weird, too. I think the Radiohead documentary, Meeting People is Easy shows the extreme nature of worlds colliding; the popular persona and the sometimes monotony of creating art and then meeting people outside of the context of artist and viewer. Fortunately, the meetup was as far away from Meeting People is Easy as possible. People were very friendly and nice and it was kind of like a reception of sorts, people lining up to talk to Heather and ask geek/background questions of me. It was mindblowing to see so many people obviously moved by Heather’s work. Quite an honor. Plus, it was great to see GEORGE! again.

After the meetup, we went to the Designing for Community with ‘Zero-Advertising’ Brands panel (link goes to high-bandwidth, edited Quicktime video of the panel). This panel, moderated by Maggie Mason was a real eye opener. Derek Powazek has a great summary of this panel.

After that panel we headed out for drinks and a night of parties to end all nights of parties. The photos of which Heather has linked from here. Thanks Blogger and then Adaptive Path, Consumating and Odeo. Evan Williams has had at least a 50% hand in the sponsoring companies and so has a lot of drunk pictures (of others) to answer for. And hangovers (of others) to answer for.

Definitely bummed that I missed so many panels. Scheduling was tight. Much tighter than I had imagined. I wasn’t disappointed by any of the panels I attended. I wished I could have gotten to more of the design panels, as I think the work the Design Eye group did for Craigslist was striking and I’d loved to have been there for the discussion.

Others have nice recaps, and I would imagine most of you have read them already, but I’m linking anyway:

Jon Hicks, Greg Storey, Jason Santa Maria, Cameron Moll, Derek on the Darknets panel, Zeldman I, II, III.

You got any more good SXSW recap links? I’m linked out. o

1See next footnote.

2 We’ve sent the camera to be repaired twice, neither time has addressed fully the problems we have with shutter reliability, particularly in humid climates. I noticed severe problems last summer in South Carolina and on this trip to Austin. Everybody at the conference was shooting Canon with some sweet lenses, and I can see why.

I’m sure that several phone calls to Nikon might resolve our issues with the camera, but I think we have a lemon. The only other people with Nikon D70 problems are those who purchased from the same store we did. If anybody reading this works for Nikon, you have a limited time before we ditch the D70 or it stops being our main camera and we stop telling people to consider it. I’ve always tried to be objective in my recommendations; I mention why we chose the D70 and that people should definitely check out other cameras from other manufacturers to find the right fit. That said, I either want to sell the D70 (and/or flash) or not use it so much and go Canon. I got to shoot a 5D and lordy, that was a revelation.