Now that I've had a few days to catch up on sleep, I feel that I'm better able to write about the experience I just had in Austin at a little conference known as South by Southwest Interactive. Most people are familiar with the music and film portions of SXSW, but if you're a tech geek, then the Interactive portion of the conference is like Disneyland. But better because there's free booze everywhere. After some reflection, I present my favorite moments from South by (which is what all the cool kids call it):
- The Unicorn
He joined Andrew Hyde's panel about half way through and stole the show. Afterwards, the Unicorn was running around giving everyone high-fives. When I put my hand up in the air to receive, he refused to slap my hand. Ouch. Let me just say that getting dissed by a nonexistent, magical creature doesn't make it hurt any less.
- Bowling for Geeks
It's always fun bowling with your CEO but even better when you're talking trash and throwing strikes. Besides the neon balls, the best part of bowling was when the entire alley got Rick rolled by the guy playing the music videos. Only a bunch of geeks would truly appreciate that!
- Seeing Lijit publishers in action
Everywhere I looked at SXSW, I saw familiar names and URLs. Having the chance to thank users and speak with them firsthand about what they want from Lijit was priceless. I went to a session on building community and one of the speakers, Jake McKee, the Community Guy, was proudly wearing a Lijit t-shirt. Bestill my beating evangelistic heart!
- Blog Network Camp
Lijit was one of the sponsors for this event and there was a great turnout for it. I always get a kick watching Todd, our CEO, give a demo because it re-energizes me and makes me remember why I started working for the company in the first place. Mainly because he's very persuasive and we have a kick-ass search service. The response from the bloggers at the event was positive and we're looking forward to seeing how we can make network search even better!
- How to piss off a blogger
I attended this discussion on blogger relations and was pleased to find out that I don't do any of the things we listed as ways to piss off bloggers. I'm self-taught and it's taken me a year, but I feel that I'm finally in the position to lead one of these panels. As I've always said, if you treat a blogger like you'd like to be treated, you're probably doing the right thing. To read more about what we came up with, check out the post written by the session moderator.
- Hanging in da Bloghaus
This was the place to be to meet anyone who is anyone in the blogging world. Interviews were going on left and right, blog posts were frantically typed, free beer was consumed...and all with the energy and enthusiasm of a frat house. The Bloghaus is where I made the most connections, met the most Twitter friends and rubbed shoulders with the most A-listers. A very dangerous place for someone who freaks out around (very) minor celebrities!
- Cathedral of Junk
There was a Flickr meetup in South Austin in the backyard of a gentleman who has constructed a 20-foot high shrine completely out of junk. How could you say no to seeing that? It was awesome to meet some of the Flickr employees, hang with other geeky photo-types and get away from the convention center for a bit. Did I mention that you can climb the stairs in this temple of junk? And that the Austin City Council has been out to check it (at the request of some neighbors) and has found that the Cathedral of Junk meets all of the city's building codes?
- Learning more about the CEO
Trips like these allow me to see Todd dressed up as a pirate (for a panel he rocked, btw) and present me with the opportunity to learn that we have the same size feet. (No need to mention that I have humongous feet. It's common knowledge.) Good to know that if necessary, I will be able to fill the shoes of the CEO perfectly. Yarrrr....
- The people
Duh. Everywhere you went, there was potential for inspiration and connection. Something about the mellow Austin mood must have rubbed off, because I had no problem walking up to anyone (regardless of their page views) and starting a conversation. It was such an electric energy, matching avatars to faces and meeting new friends. You hear people say it all the time in the online world, but honestly, it really is all about the people. I'm just glad I got to experience it myself in a backdrop as cool as SXSW.
What about the parties, you ask? Well, they were good, but I didn't have my camera on me and I ended up shouting to be heard in those venues. The parties were indeed a good time (especially the one that we helped to sponsor!) but for someone who doesn't like staying out late, they just seemed to drain me of my mornings, my voice and my energy.
That's my wrap-up of what went down at SXSW. If you went, I'd love to hear the stories and pictures that you have to share. And if I promised you a t-shirt and didn't have the right size, shoot me an email and I'll be sure to amend that situation.
(Last photo courtesy of Gwen Bell)