March 17, 2005

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.

Mr. Maria at SXSW

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’sHow 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.

Commentary (28):

1. Ian says… mar 17, 2005 | 10:21 am

Does design matter? What was the verdict? I’m anxious to know because if it doesn’t, I’m in great shape!

2. Ian Lloyd says… mar 17, 2005 | 10:28 am

Awe shucks, you’ll be getting British withdrawal eh? Was a turn-out and a half, it has to be said. So, in true British fashion I shall say: “Jolly good show, chaps!”

Great to meet you too, Jason. Got so many new people’s sites to add to the ‘Blogs I read daily’ tab, yours is one of them. Next year I promise to be a bit more up to speed!

3. Andrew says… mar 17, 2005 | 11:44 am


I’m very fond of refering to you as Maria from now on. This will probably mean that I’ll find assinine reasons to link to just to use the name Maria.

Also, you should know the demand for Jason Fried’s brians is very high. I’ve considered doing him in just to sell it on ebay.

And that picture of Dunstan’s ass . . . classic.

4. bearskinrug says… mar 17, 2005 | 11:49 am

Well - It sounds like you learned a lot of good stuff! And some dangerous stuff…

I’m going to have a clause in my will that keeps you from eating my brain. I don’t want you learning why I can’t pee if people are in the bathroom…

5. Andrew says… mar 17, 2005 | 12:10 pm

naked dustan technology joke goes here

6. kingbenny says… mar 17, 2005 | 12:11 pm

What is the correlation between Rock School and last year’s School of Rock? They almost sound identical.

7. Mike says… mar 17, 2005 | 12:23 pm

Once again, my own petty jealousy reigns supreme. Ah, to quote a classic procrastinator, maybe next year. ;o)

On the positive side, it’s fabulous to hear that so many people had such a great time at “South by”. It was great fun looking at everyones Flickr galleries and I’m off to visit yours now.

8. Jason Santa Maria says… mar 17, 2005 | 12:44 pm

kingbenny: The biggest difference is that Paul Green’s School of Rock has been around since 1998.

9. Garrett says… mar 17, 2005 | 1:08 pm

I remember being in the panel and seeing your name plate and thinking, “Didn’t he post a ridiculously long explanation of how often his name gets truncated?”

Anyways, it was good to meet you this weekend and put a personality and face with the code.

10. James Archer says… mar 17, 2005 | 2:05 pm

You think “Maria” is bad? Wait until you see what I’ve got planned for you for Christmas, Santa.

11. Jason Beaird says… mar 17, 2005 | 2:48 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever read so many blog entries reporting on a single event before. As abstract and diverse as the web design community seems sometimes, South By (at least from an outsiders perspective) made it seem like a tangibly tight-knit one. I WILL be there for SXSW 2006.

12. gb says… mar 17, 2005 | 5:33 pm

And you just got used to being called “Stan” all the time…

and I’ll agree with Andrew: Jason Fried’s brians are quite high in demand… ;)

13. Jason Santa Maria says… mar 17, 2005 | 5:56 pm

Oh, “Stan” is a few years old actually, but I suppose the name is fairly new to the general populace.

14. Matt Johnson says… mar 17, 2005 | 6:41 pm

James Archer - “You think “Maria” is bad? Wait until you see what I’ve got planned for you for Christmas, Santa.”

hahahaha good sense of humor

Jason Beaird - “I WILL be there for SXSW 2006.”


Its really good to see you back Jason!

15. RJ Hampden says… mar 17, 2005 | 7:05 pm

Bukowski couldn’t pee if there was a girl in the next room.

16. Ms. Jen says… mar 17, 2005 | 9:59 pm

I must admit to Brit Withdrawal as well, and just about everyone else…


smiles, jen ;o)

17. Andrew says… mar 17, 2005 | 10:40 pm

@gb yeah, that what I meant, yeah. .. ahm…

18. Derek Featherstone says… mar 17, 2005 | 11:26 pm

Dear Mr. Maria,

A pleasure to have met you in Austin… I’m already looking forward to next year. And yes, definitely wear a cup when Andy is around!

19. goodwitch says… mar 18, 2005 | 2:50 am

“I’ve just met a boy named Maria,
and suddenly that name
will never be the same
to me.

20. Paul Viapiano says… mar 18, 2005 | 4:22 am

Maria…say it loud and there’s music playing…say it soft and it’s almost like praying…

21. Dan Mall says… mar 18, 2005 | 10:11 am

Sorry Stan, you already used the brain eating joke in the comments. And we all thought you were originally witty. Hmph.

22. Jason Santa Maria says… mar 18, 2005 | 10:13 am

That’s where you are wrong, Dan. It wasn’t a joke.

23. Dan Mall says… mar 18, 2005 | 10:34 am

You can’t eat two brains . Imagine the indigestion.

24. Jeremy Keith says… mar 18, 2005 | 12:11 pm

If it’s any consolation, Britain is going through Jason withdrawl.

I had more fun at suckswuh than I thought humanly possible. I feel bad that so much of it was at your expense.

Kelly was answering a question from me when Zeldman mischievously pulled up Virtual Stan. At first I couldn’t figure out why everyone was giggling at a serious answer to a serious question. Then I saw the progress bar loading up. My heart went out to you. If something like that happened to a Brit, the embarrassment would cause our stiff upper lips to collapse.

25. sergio says… mar 18, 2005 | 9:07 pm


Ok. Maria. It was awesome meeting you, man. I had an awesome time, and I hope to see you again next year. Cheers!

And Jeremy… Brits have stiff upper lips?

26. Craig C. says… mar 19, 2005 | 12:36 am

Fear not, Jason. I’ve been labeling all my Flickrshots with your full proper name.

27. Chip D. says… mar 25, 2005 | 6:25 pm

… and Maria you shall be …

it was an amazing conference - most all the panels were great. I’m ready to book my flight for 2006.

28. Richard Rutter says… mar 30, 2005 | 12:24 pm

Ah, Brit withdrawal symptoms. That touches my heart - the boys sure dun good. And I must add, it was utterly spiffing to meet you Jase, and thanks for being such as sport about the whole double Andrew thing.