SXSW Trip Log

SXSW was a total blast. Austin’s fun and the sheer number of choices on things to do outside the conference are staggering. Check out Flickr photos tagged as SXSW 2005, the few I have are here. Here’s a rundown of what I’ve done so far:

Friday Evening: Arrive in Austin. Jane and I share a cab with someone whose panel is to interview Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent. Meet Jason Fried for the first time in person on our way out to dinner.

Friday Night: Head out with Jane for thai food and then on to Tantek’s birthday party. You may have heard of Tantek, he wrote the Mac IE 5 rendering engine. Not that I have any love for that engine these days, but in its time, a great browser. See Ze Frank on the street outside. Afterwards, we walk over to Break Bread with Brad. Watch how the entire open-air back part of the bar goes nearly silent as Malcolm Gladwell walks in.

Saturday Morning: Oversleep and wake up with a hangover and bad stomach issues. Shouldn’t have had only beer the night before. Wander around looking for Pepto-Bismol. Find it and register for my badge. Mine happens to take forever.

Saturday Afternoon: Jason Fried shows up to get his badge and we all head out to lunch. After lunch, I walk back to the hotel and start to finish my panel project. Start to hear that the other team has done some great stuff, so I put more effort into my interface in order to make it as badass as I can. Meet Chris Wetherell who works at Google, and Dunstan Orchard, both of whom are on the other team. Boo!

Saturday Evening: Meet with my team for the first time in the Green Room. Jaxon’s looking as metro-sexual as ever, and Vera’s pleasant. We all look over our projects and start to think we might actually win this thing.

Saturday Night: Go to Milkshake Media’s party with Jaxon, Jane, Chris and others. After a few free drinks and Cheetos, we go to frogdesign’s party. I get shit on by one of the awful fucking birds here and make my way to the bar. Nice exotic-ish dancers all around and a salsa band playing. Ridiculously packed, and I exit many times just to keep a lid on the claustrophobia starting to well up inside me. After that we walk a few blocks to a super cool bar and I proceed to drink myself silly. I may have a Flickr album up of all the people Jane hugs at this party.

Sunday Morning: Wake up with suprisingly not much of a hangover. Yay for top-shelf alcohol. Decide to go see the BitTorrent guy’s interview, because I’m interested in what he has to say about the future of content distribution and copyright. Unfortunately, he’s not interested in these things and quite an awkward nerd, so I don’t stay long.

Sunday Afternoon: Have mediocre tex-mex with Jane, Jaxon, Jason, Eris and Chris. Discuss the death of the browser. Go back to the hotel and work on my presentation for another solid 5 hours. Meet Jay Allen of Six Apart (makers of Movable Type) outside the hotel.

Sunday Night: Go to the Hotel Sane Jose with Lane, Danah, Jane, another Kevin and Jeff Veen. Find out that Kevin is an attorney for theEFF, defending PowerPage and AppleInsider from Apple’s litigation. I figure out the meaning behind his supposedly non-sensical “storm trooper from starwars drawn as Che Guevara” shirt and earn some street cred. Find yet another mediocre-to-not-so-bad mexican restaurant and discuss the Apple case some more. Smoke way too many cigarettes for my own good, grab some ice cream and go to bed after meeting Halcyon, Doug Bowman and Anil Dash.

Monday Morning: Barely sleep, I’m so nervous about my presentation later in the afternoon and grab my first regular-schedule breakfast: a soda and a cigarette. Attend “Does design matter?,” a panel with Jeff Zeldman, Jason Santa Maria and others. Interesting, yet I can’t help but think to myself “How could design NOT matter?” Once that’s done, I attend “How to Inform Design” with Jeff Veen and others, and learn about the value of up-front user-research. Try and think of ways to include that in my company’s process. The wheels are starting to turn.

Monday Afternoon: Go to lunch with Jason Swihart for barbeque and find it terribly disappointing. Must find a better BBQ place while my short stay in Texas lasts. Try and ignore the butterflies flying around in my stomach and gather up my gear and head over to the Green Room, as Wonkette is using our panel’s room as overflow from her main-stage keynote. Wish I could hear her being interviewed, but I have too much to work on, and I just learn that the projector display we’ll be using is 800×600, and my application is designed at 900px wide. Fucking great. Fret and worry and edit code 45 minutes before my presentation to accomodate the lower-than-expected resolution. Head into the room to get set up and find that we actually can use 1024. Edit code up until 5 minutes before my presentation to get it back to 900px wide. Everything is kosher. The panel starts and all of a sudden I’m totally at ease and proceed to knock my presentation out of the park, despite our formidable opponents. Jane uses my Flash-based Applause-O-Meter to measure audience reaction to each set of presentations. HTML team wins, but only beacuse Chris Wetherell is fucking JavaScript badass. I guess he’s got to be good if Google hired him to do it, eh? Get props from Jeffrey Zeldman and notice that the people whose panels I’d wanted to see actually attend mine, which blows me away. I imagine I see Jason Kottke at our panel, but he might be in there for the next one. Try and decide if I should introduce myself but I feel like too much of a nerd to do so. Rush into the HomestarRunner presentation and laugh my ass off for the next hour. When It’s done, I head to the front to introduce myself, as my picture is directly next to Mike Chapman’s in the SXSW program booklet. He signs it like a yearbook (“Raise hell this summer!!!”) and asks me what I do. I tell him and he responds that I’m smarter than him, I reply that he’s funnier than me so it all works out. A relatively complete transcript of the panel.

Monday Evening: Go to 20×2, a show where 20 people talk for 2 minutes each about a concept. This year the concept is “What’s the word?” and Jaxon is fucking hilarious during his diatribe about grief.

Monday Night: Go to grab thai food (again) and then go to the Blogger party, which we actually miss, and find that we’re now going to the Gawker party. Drink many drinks, smoke many cigarettes and actually feel noticed and recognized by people who I don’t know. Discuss CSS vs tables with Jaxon and Chris. Find that Chris’s band, Dealership, has played with the Arcade Fire in San Francisco and that the artist who did The Shins’ album did Dealership’s artwork as well. I wish I was a rockstar.

Tuesday Morning: Wake up and rush down to Eris’ presentation on what the web might look like in 10 years. Find it’s more of a discussion than a presentation. I was hoping for bright-green spinning cubes or something and get boring talk about CSS and thin clients. Yawn. Start to write this post and decide to go get lunch.

Tuesday Afternoon: After trying to figure out how to get the hotel to charge my employer’s credit card instead of mine, I go to lunch with Jaxon and Jane and have cajun food, after which I head back to the hotel to get the billing issue further figured out.

Tuesday Night:Take a nap and when I wake up, meet Jaxon at the Red Vs. Blue panel, which we then find out actually occurred two days prior. Awesome. We head back to the hotel bar and discuss XHTML/CSS vs tables some more. We then go and grab pizza from a walk-up, hop in a cab and go to the Wired party at the American Legion. Wander around wondering what the fuck is up with this place, use my one drink ticket to get a Stoli and cranberry (bad idea), and fuck around with the tinker toys in the “fun” room upstairs. Decide that I’m feeling really sick and jump in an arriving cab back to the hotel and call it an early night.

Wedneday Morning: Wake up around 9am and find that Jane is still not in the room. Must’ve been a long night for her. Walk down to the hotel restaurant and have a filling, relaxing breakfast and read the paper. Get a call from Jane that she’s at the convention center and that my old boss is here, and that he’s moving to Mexico soon so I could see him here before he leaves. Go to the center, talk for a bit, type up the rest of this post, and go get my shit together to leave.