Geek March Madness, SXSW 2001!

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Sunday March 11, 2001

The keynote this morning was with John Heilemann and John Battelle and it was just ok. I left about 10:45 am so I could get a good seat at the first panel, which was "Designing for the Future Web." This didn't really address much speculation on the future of the web, but there was some good stuff about being ready for "pervasive computing" (always on, variety of devices). A point was made about the lack of a mentor/apprentice system in web design, as opposed to traditional graphic design. This is an area in which I have experienced much frustration.

The next panel was "Possibility and Constraint in Design," moderated by the lovely Caterina Fake. This was a panel with some very brainy people, but unfortunately I didn't take any notes. Mind like a sieve… I would have liked to meet Caterina, too, but thought I'd see her around. (Note: I didn't…)

The last panel of the day was "Weblogs: Business Applications," which I found interesting since our company has been playing around with an internal blog on our intranet. All of the panelists' weblogs, though, were public, and they tended to play up the marketing aspect of having the company name associated with this content. I wanted to know if an internal blog could help a company build a corporate culture, even when offices were quite widely separated. No notes here, either, so that's all I can remember. I did introduce myself to Matt Linderman from 37 Signals since our company has a lot in common with theirs, even down to our design sensibility. He was really nice and I also managed to get one of their cool t-shirts.

After the panels, we all sort of milled around talking about where to eat dinner. Denise and I decided to eat at Threadgill's near my hotel, and I ate a fabulous meal of Chicken Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, Creole cabbage, onion rings and lots of buttermilk biscuits. And Shiner Bock, of course. Denise is one of the most genuine people I've met. We talked about our experiences and about some of the people we'd met. She was gracious enough to pick up the cheque, too.

From there it was off to the Web Awards, to which I was late, and which I left early, along with Jish, Tim, and Dan. It was standing room only, and I didn't know most of the nominated sites. Besides, we needed to get to the Ruta Maya coffee house to get good seats for Fray Café.

From 8:00 pm to midnight, we enjoyed a night of storytelling. Notable were John Halcyon Styn, Lance Anderson, and in the open mike section, Anil Dash and Andy Pressman. It got hot, so I went outside, and in the process, missed the event of the evening, Courtney's proposal to Lane, and his acceptance. Congratulations, you two!

When Fray Café wound down, a group of us decided to go for some food. The plan was to go to Katz's Deli, since it was open 24 hours. The group were Mike Wasylik and his wife Dineen, Anil, Jish, Brad, Dan, and Wes Felter. We took off ahead of Mike and Dineen, and ran into another group including Derek and Heather who were going to the Magnolia Café. We wandered off down 6th St. and into some dicey neighbourhood before we figured out we needed to be at 618 West and not 618 East 6th St. Then we thought it would just be quicker to join the others at the Magnolia, so off we went north on Congress. Then we figured out it was on South Congress. Thoroughly exasperated, we decided to continue to Katz's. Jish decided he was tired and went back to his hotel. On the way, a sudden downpour caught all of us off guard. We battled torrential rain but just kept on despite our thorough soaking. We all just laughed uncontrollably. It was strangely exhilarating being at the mercy of the weather. We arrived at Katz's completely waterlogged and asked for a table. The waitress seated us and then asked, "Do you want water?" That set us off on the first of many many extended laughing fits. Over the next hour and a half, we were joined by Mike and Dineen who had been there 45 minutes before us and already eaten. We just kept joking and joking. It was an incredible bonding experience, and the most fun I had at SXSW. Anil summed it up best on his site: "Rain can make brothers out of strangers." We took some mirror shots, and all bought t-shirts to commemorate the occasion. I think you'll see it blogged a few places. We ended up getting two cabs. Dan and Wes and I cabbed back to Wes's car and he dropped Dan and I off about 3:30 am at our hotel (Dan is staying on the same floor as Dave and I!).

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©2001 by James McNally and Consolation Champs.