Roundtrip From Austin
Here I sit, home again, with South by Southwest weighing heavy in my heart. Over the last five days I met some amazing people, and finally put faces to many names. The magic of SXSW lies in the attendees, and this is the reason I only made it to one film. When you see someone, you simply go introduce yourself. No one is pretentious and no one is a rockstar. Everyone that I met seemed to share the same sentiments, that we are all part of a larger whole, and we are all here to meet, help, laugh, and learn with one another. I don’t need to list all of the wonderful people I met, but just know that you will all be missed. I think I will probably go through British withdrawal for a few days.
The conference was heavy of the tech side and you could often find yourself adrift in a sea of laptops. I have never used iChat’s Rendezvous connectivity, but it sure made for an interesting time. Open iChat and you can automatically see everyone on the local network in your buddy list. Since the conference was swimming in wifi, this means you instantly have a bunch of new friends to meet. Even better, since all of the panelists brought laptops on stage to present, if you had a question during a panel, you could just send it over to them using Rendezvous.
As a last minute shocker, Zeldman asked me to introduce him for the opening keynote. Nervousness fought with me, but I pulled through respectfully. Participating in a panel was a fantastic experience and, in my opinion, our panel (“Does Design Matter?”) turned out very well, mostly due to the diversity of the group; Joe Clark should end up on most panels, if for nothing else than to argue counterpoints. Some nervousness came back when the panel started (hey, this was my first time), but I felt fine after I got to talk a bit. The session closed with a surprise visit by Virtual Stan courtesy of Zeldman (for those of you who have always wondered what my head would look like projected 12 foot high on a wall). As I approached the stage, in a truly apropos aside, I was confronted with a peculiar nameplate in front of my microphone. Immediately, I found myself laughing and at ease. The irony was thick enough to cut… I’m speaking at the conference and they can’t even get my name right. Mr. Maria speaks at SXSW. Lovely. All in all, I wouldn’t trade it and am thankful to have been able to participate with such whip smart people as Jeffrey, Kelly, and Joe.
My favorite panel of the conference was Jason Fried’s “How to Make Big Things Happen With Small Teams”, but that is because I am a process and methodology nutcase (Well, it’s also because Jason is full of some great ideas). Note to self, in the event of Jason’s death, eat his brain.
Though I had a film pass, I only made it to one screening. Luckily for me, the film was Rock School and it was fucking brilliant. The film is a documentary about local Philadelphia rocker Paul Green and his after-school rock program for the area’s youth. What follows is as heartwarming and hilarious as they come. When the film gets released soon, I plan to see it a couple of times and you should too.
So here I am now, back home. New friends were made, many beers were liberated, and I am already looking forward to SXSW 2006. I also carry with me a healthy dose of inspiration; a natural side effect from so much creativity congealing under one roof. So long friends, see you next year.
Lastly, I managed to photograph some of the wealth of debauchery and have placed them on Flickr for posterity. Especially Dunstan’s ass.