Lost Weekend: SXSWi 2008
Ahh, intentions. I’ve had plenty of good intentions in the past. Last weekend I had the good intention to keep up a daily blog of my trip to SXSWi 2008. Check my last post to see how that went. Oh, you’re back so soon? Yeah, that’s because I only did one day. One day! That’s pathetic. Clearly I was foolish to pit my blogging stamina against the awesome attention magnet that is SXSW. What with the daily panels and nightly parties it’s hard enough to stop for food. Forget sleep. Forget the home life you leave with the baby and all. I’ve swallowed the red pill (or was it blue?) and there’s no stopping now. I’ll have to reconstruct my experience from this pile at the bottom of my suitcase. Party invites, tattered receipts, piles of business cards, strange swag (Opera beer cozies?), twitter tweets, and this awkward tattoo will have to do.
Day TwoSo to pick up where I left off, Day Two started off with an excellent panel from Jason and Rob on design critiques with clients. Good stuff, and some great tips on how to keep the meeting focused and not compromise on a weaker design for the sake of immediate gratification. Like, don’t let the client mix and match from different comps because that will usually make the end design weaker. And it’s funny when they make fun of each other. Then I stayed in exactly the same spot for Magic in User Experiences with Jared Spool: Another highly satisfying presentation. But how could it not be when you’ve got mind reading and card tricks peppering your user experience philosophy? Spool illustrated how the most satisfying user experiences completely hide all the stuff that makes a site work that they don’t need to know about. Give your users something fun and they won’t notice that they’re doing anything particularly sophisticated or hard. After that my memory gets a little fuzzy. Kathy Sierra made some excellent arguments about seducing your users by doing a good job of getting out of the way and letting them do what they want with your site or product. I’ll have to catch the podcast to remember what exactly those arguments were, tho. Then it’s off to Data as Art. Pretty. That night we enjoyed the open bar and a slightly rainy courtyard at the Lifehacker/Gawker party. I’m always happy to rub elbows with Gina, even if I have to also rub elbows with some weird furry. (Sorry, no pics of that guy. Let’s just say that when a dude walks in wearing a plush cowl, commotion follows. )
Day ThreeAfter a late night we couldn’t get to any panels on time. So we joined some other designers for lunch. When we got back we hung out in the halls to talk shop with a bunch other site builders. While deep in a “Microsoft IE is ruining our lives” discussion I got to meet John Resig, who invitedus to a rad little party that Mozilla was throwing. They were having a contest where everyone proposed ridiculous Firefox plugins, and our own John Refano took one of the first prizes. Score! He walked away with a very sweet laptop bag and a mention in Resig’s blog. I was psyched to score one of the Screaming Monkeys floating flying around. Then we headed over to the British Booze-Up at Shakespeare’s Pub. Total f-ing mad house. This would not have been a good night for the fire inspectors to show up, as the place was packed so full that you literally couldn’t walk across the room, and the cumulative body heat made the upstairs balcony stifling. It was so packed that it almost teetered over into being no fun, but then we ran into someone new to chat up and it was all good again. John and I were jazzed to meet the creative director of one of our favorite sites, last.fm, and talked to her about her company, work, and London (where Megan and I took our pre-baby vacation last April). Then we were off to the Iron Cactus for a party thrown by a Drupal design company, Raincity Studios, along with some other Vancouver companies. This was where the geeks lost all control. Spring Break was almost over, most of us were heading out the next day, and it was the last chance to do some damage to your body and reputation. Folks were booty and break dancing in the pool of spilled alcohol. John got in there a bit, but typical sober me hung off to the side and took it in with the rest of the not-quite-sloshed. Christian Metts, in particular, and I were deep into a conversation on fatherhood in the midst of this nerd-debauchery. I’m pretty sure everyone was having the greatest time of the weekend.
Day FourI’d love to say that it just got crazier from there, but I don’t think anyone was up for it. John and I had one panel we wanted to catch, and then the plan was to hang out with folks in the halls until it was time to head to the airport. CMS Roundup was nice, if only to see all the Drupal love in the room. We still have a ways to go in converting SXSW into DrupalCon, but I talked to many people who either used or were evaluating Drupal, or needed folks who do use Drupal. And that’s good for us. Then after we hooked up with Christian again for lunch, we came across a construction of Bloxes about to be torn down. I immediately lost 15 years of accumulated maturity and went into Godzilla mode. We all took the spare Bloxes and built up our cardboard Tokyo. I built out the tallest tower, and Christian made three connected towers. Then we all lined up, and it was time to bring it all crashing down. That was a pretty satisfying way to end SXSW.
Submitted by canary on Tue, 03/18/2008 - 12:42am
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