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Thoughts and Photos from SXSW Interactive 2008, Day One

It’s Friday night, the end of Day One of SXSW Interactive. Or Day Zero. Or whatever it was. The first day. I’m sitting in the lobby of the Hilton hotel, after being thwarted on a late night search for something sweet (what I wouldn’t give for a 7-Eleven nearby!). Anyway.

Registration and badge pickup opened at 10 AM this morning, and I went over to the Austin Convention Center (conveniently across the street – lucky me booking this trip like six months ago, to get such a good hotel) around noon. I was hearing on Twitter that the line was bad, but it wasn’t (later, it would be massive). Got my badge (with my avatar photo on it), and picked up “the big bag”. Man, they weren’t kidding. It was FULL of crap. Flyers, ad cards, magazines, etc. It was really heavy, there was so much crap in it. Most people were emptying theirs out and dumping the unwanted stuff on tables right out side of the pickup room. At least it’s likely to get recycled that way. This year, Hugh McLeod, of gapingvoid and art-drawn-on-business-cards fame, did the artwork on the bag. It’s very cool!

Badge and Bag

After getting my stuff, I wandered around a bit. Played some Guitar Hero 3 with the guy who runs Northwestern University’s TV station (for whom “Welcome to the Jungle” on Expert was no problem – I muddled through on Medium). The place started to fill up, and I started to get an idea of the scale of this thing. Thousands and thousands of people!

For some reason, a young lady in a fancy dress and a “Homecoming Queen” ribbon was greeting people at the top of the escalators (and head of the long, long badge line) in her best parade style.

Homecoming Queen

Looking around me, I realize that I’ve never seen so many 1) MacBook Pros, 2) iPhones, and 3) DLSR cameras in one place before. It’s the standard uniform, apparently. I never got the memo, but luckily I fit right in!

Macs and iPhones

I went to a couple of panels in the afternoon. First was Amy Hoy and John Arysomething (I’ll look it up later) on basically how to stay a “n00b”, and retain an open mind and develop your talents. I first met Amy at OSCON 2006 in Portland. The talk was fun – lots of jokes. Kind of scattered, but I got a few good quotes out of it (check my Twitter stream).

After that, I went to the “Battledecks” session. The premise was a competition style session, where the presenters had never seen the (random) slides that they got, until they got up to present. Afterwords, they were judged on how well they thought on their feet, kept the whole thing together, integrated buzzwords and lingo, etc. What a cool idea! I imagined it would be something like an Ignite event, but with all the presentations mixed up, so no one had their own. πŸ™‚ It was very, very fun. Lots of laughs. Much credit goes to Mike, the guy who crafted the slides, for including just about every current Internet meme I can think of (and even some that were new to me). The competitors included Jon Armstrong (yes, that Jon Armstrong) and SixApart’s Anil Dash. In the end, Anil KILLED his presentation, in a very good way. He owned the room. It was awesome. πŸ™‚

Oh, and just like Ignite Portland got started from something cool I saw at a conference and tweeted about, I fully expect us to have some version of BattleDecks, perhaps attached to Ignite, sometime in the future in Portland. You heard it here first. πŸ˜‰

When dinnertime rolled around, I checked with my Twitter peeps to see where everyone was going. Dawn Foster and Adam Duvander headed over to the Iron Cactus, and kindly invited me to join them. Matt Beck was there too – a mini PDX meetup in Austin! Dinner was yummy (the guacamole was terrific – they make it fresh at your table), and the company was great.

Matt Beck, Dawn Foster, and Adam Duvander at the Iron Cactus

Dawn and I were messing around, taking pictures of each other taking pictures, and I lucked out and got this shot of her camera, right as the flash fired. I love how the colors turned out!

Flash Duel

There are who knows how many parties going on right now. Laughing Squid is throwing a big one at a place called Six, and that’s where all the cool kids are right now (Clint and Jacqui from Ars, Scoble, etc.). Me? I’m a party pansy. A wimp. I stayed in my room for a while, History Channel on in the background, called and talked to Rachel and the kids, worked on photos, and read some feeds.

The desire for some kind of dessert finally propelled me downstairs. Of course, I brought my laptop. How else could I be writing this blog post? I’m not about to put a few hundred words out on my iPhone! πŸ™‚ But since everything is closed, I think I’m going to hunt down a vending machine or SOMETHING. Then go to bed. Tomorrow is the first “full” day of panels, activities, etc., and I have a feeling it’s going to be insane.

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I’m in Austin, Texas, for SXSW Interactive

I arrived last night in Austin, Texas, for the SXSW Interactive conference. I’ve watched this event from afar for a couple of years, and it always seems to be an awesome mix of fun, cool web technologies, and community. So this year, I decided to come.

Slightly off topic, I had an amazing view of Mt. Hood as we flew out of Portland yesterday. Sadly, my D40 was stowed, and I couldn’t get to it in time, but I did have the little Aiptek Go-HD, so I shot some HD video and a couple of the 5MP stills that it can do. Not the greatest quality, but hope it communicates how amazing the view was:

Mt. Hood from the air

The actual SXSW event hasn’t even started yet – I’ll head over to the Austin Convention Center across the street in a little bit to pick up my badge, and attend one or two of the opening panels. There’s so much stuff going on at any given time that it’s kind of intimidating to decide where I should be at any given time. Not only are there actually three components to the SXSW festival going on at the same time (Interactive, Film, and Music), but each timeslot has like ten panels, all of them sound great, and there are tons of “extracurricular” events going on, like the Screenburn gaming festival, film premiers and screenings (I want to go see “Nerdcore Rising” and MC Frontalot!). Oh, and BarCampAustin. And lots and lots of friends that I haven’t seen for a long time. And tons of parties (which I probably won’t go to – I’m not much of a party person. Downside of being a true geek, I guess.) It’s so hard to plan ahead that I simply decided not to. There are a few things that I want to be sure to see, but I’m mostly playing it by ear.

I’ll be taking photos and shooting video, and posting real blog posts, but mainly, you can expect to keep up with what I’m doing via my Twitter microposts. You’ll find a daily summary posted here to the blog (but not in the feed), or you can see it all as it happens in my lifestream at www.joshbancroft.com, or follow me on Twitter. And if you’re in Austin and want to get together, just D me on Twitter, or email me (jabancroft@gmail.com). You can call me at 503-334-1889, but you’ll probably get my voicemail.

I’m going to head out, get some lunch, then go over and pick up my badge, check the place out, and sit in on a panel or two. Catch you later! πŸ™‚

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