SXSW'07: After the Storm
I thought I'd be diligent and blog each day with vim and vigor. Alas, the lack of free internet access in my hotel and the lack of desire to drag my behemoth of a laptop around meant I didn't do that. Now, I have to summarize it all into one massive post.
Uniting the Holy Trinity
First off, I have to say kudos to Dustin, Sally and Cameron for the panel. I felt really good about it and think we pulled off an enjoyable panel. It was a lot of fun just preparing for this.
When the podcast is ready, I'll be sure to link it up.
On Saturday, I caught a bunch of stuff, first checking out A Decade of Style which was a nice light start to the day. One of the questions was something like, "What made you stick with CSS?" The first thing that came to mind was simply the maintenance aspect: one file to easily style all pages. I believe Doug Bowman finally mentioned it before they moved on to the next question.
After that I checked out the Influence of Art in Design, which had a packed line up. I was especially impressed by Dan Rubin's observation of music having a deep impact on our creativity. I think the panel was too full leaving little time for more in-depth discussion.
I caught the last bit of Kathy Sierra's keynote after lunch. I missed the 2 o'clock stuff almost every single day...there's just not enough time at lunch; especially with slow wait staff at some restaurants.
The Grids are Good power session with Mark Boulton and Khoi Vinh was fabulous and by far one of my favourite panels of this year. They should've been given a full hour as I'd love to have heard more on things like aligning type to the grid.
The next power session was Ruining the Experience. It gave some nice examples but nothing I wasn't already aware of.
Finally, I checked out High Class and Low Class Web Design which was a lot of fun to watch, if only for the awkwardness. Brant Louck who works for the WWE (that's wrestling!) shot from the hip with honesty, even if it came across a little controversial. Khoi on the other hand made two points which seemed contradictory. His first point being that class doesn't factor into the design process at NYTimes.com and that it's all about statistics and clickthrough rates. But later on, said that they'd never use BLINK just to increase clicks. In my mind, this was one of the major points the panel: there's a design aesthetic for different classes.
Sunday was a bit of a bust panel-wise as last minute preparation for our panel at 5:00 took precendence. I missed a couple panels that I really wanted to go see. The only panel I managed to catch was Design Workflows, which despite some negative feedback, I thought was okay. If there's one thing I've learned about doing a panel, it's that you need to set expectations.
Monday marked my return to regular panel attendance starting the day off with Ajax Kung Fu Meets Accessibility Feng Shui. Admittedly, I missed most of Jeremy Keith's part, having slept in, but Derek Featherstone's portion was fantastic. There were lots of juicy examples with useful and practical advice. I've urged him to do a workshop here in Ottawa, if only so I can attend.
Next up was Scaling Your Community with Matt Mullenweg which ended up being a decent presentation. Walking in, I thought it'd be all technical (which I wanted) but it was all about connecting with the community and ways in which you can build that community (hence the title).
Again, I missed the 2 o'clock because of lunch but this was expected. After which though, I caught the Bullet Tooth Web Design panel with Andy Clarke and Jason Santa Maria. JSM seemed a little nervous but it was only a 25 minute panel and Andy carried the presentation well. Not much meat to this one but entertaining at the very least.
It looks like I missed the last panel of the day; likely to catch my breath before the evening events.
By the time Tuesday rolled around, I wasn't really into doing the panel thing anymore. I caught the Will Wright keynote which was very cool. I'm not much of a gamer but I'd love to play Spore.
If you weren't able to catch something (which is highly likely), be sure to catch up on the video and podcasts as they get posted.
Twitter and the Web Awards
On Sunday night, there was the web awards. Twitter took home the award for 'blog' which seemed like a bum deal but I took a lot of pride in just seeing my site (and face) come up on the big screen. And Ze Frank was reasonably amusing, too.
OMGWTFBBQ! Every night was filled with stuff to do, with plenty of people to talk to and each night punctuated by the Virb/Pure Volume party.
Thursay evening when I arrived, I met up with Anton Peck and headed over to Buffalo Billiards and got to chat with the 30 to 40 or so people who were there. Funnily enough, I didn't see Anton again until the last night.
Friday evening was the Break Bread with Brad event where I chatted with an endless number of people — so many, I left early just to make sure I'd still be able to talk through the weekend.
Saturday started off with the Frog party which had a bit of a wait to get in due to capacity and wasn't too exciting by the time I got in. Instead, a bunch of us headed over to the Ze Frank party and while I didn't see Ze, I did get to see and talk to a lot more people. Later on, a bunch of us headed on down to a bar called The Library which introduced us to dancing (I'm still waiting for whomever took photos of this to upload them!). Finally, after the bars all closed, we finished the night at the Virb party. I took off around 4:00 since I thought that's when they closed but apparently a bunch of people stayed until 5:00.
Sunday night was the Web Awards (curse you Twitter) and the Avalonstar Bowling Extravaganza. Props to Bryan and Jen for managing to put together a fantastic event. It was put together flawlessly, even with Bryan's last minute reservations that people would have to pay (we didn't, yay sponsors!). This is becoming one of those must-go-to events of SXSW.
Monday night was another partying hip-hop extravaganza. First off, I hit up dinner with some fellow Ottawans, Brett and Steve of 76design. I had originally planned to hang out with them for the evening but quickly got separated once we walked into the Great British Booze Up put together by Clearleft, Boagworld and @media 2007. I had the pleasure of meeting the somewhat frenetic Paul Boag and managed to embarass myself trying to meet Chris Wilson. After the beer ran dry, a bunch of us walked over to the SxNW party put on by Blue Flavor, Bryght and Raincity Studios. Again, I met and chatted with SO many people. Of course, once again, I found myself at the Virb party which was still hopping until the place closed up at 5:00am. A few of us headed back to the Hampton to play some Wii. I want a Wii. I need a Wii. That was a lot of fun.
Tuesday night, I felt a little melancholy. It was the last night and I knew I was going to be heading to the airport at 6:00am. I still made sure to attend the Media Temple party which was a bunch of fun (as it was last year). I had a few drinks — I can see why people say Grey Goose is good vodka. So smooth, I thought I was drinking water — but stopped to make sure that I was sober before getting on the plane. Being sober while everybody else is drunk isn't that much fun but luckily, geeks are pretty cool to talk to.
There was some negative feedback on the VIP area and while I participated in the VIP area, I still spent the majority of my evening outside of it since I really only cared about finding people to talk to.
Anyways, after the MT party, it was time for Breakfast with Dustin where the masses (about 30 of us) descended upon the local IHOP for some eats. I'm glad I was sober by this point as I was unable to remember most of the people who made it out last year. Always funny to say, "You were there?! So was I!" (I did the same thing this year forgetting that Derek Featherstone had joined us for some Wii.)
This was definitely the year of the button with many Office Space references to flare. Having ordered mine back in February, I really thought I gave myself enough time for the buttons to arrive before I left. Alas, they didn't. I felt bad having to tell people the story to anybody that asked for one. Of course, the day I return, there they are in the mailbox. I haven't quite figured out what to do with them yet. Mail them? Wait until the next conference? I feel like buttons are now passé. Next time, it'll all be about stickers and I'll look like an ass with my buttons.
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and SXSW is over for yet another year. I can't believe how many new people I met and getting a chance to meet up with those I'd met before. And there was still plenty more people I'd have liked to have met that I didn't.
Until next time...