Geek March Madness, SXSW 2001!

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Wednesday March 14, 2001

Today was a really nice way to end the trip. After groggily saying goodbye and thanks to Dave this morning around 7:00 am, I met up with Brad, Dinah, Leia, and Denise at 11:30 am at a nice café called Little City. We ate there and then Leia and Denise left for Dallas. Brad, Dinah and I went to the Art Museum and saw a great exhibit on the work of Edward Ruscha. Then we went up Congress and shopped at an amazing place called Uncommon Objects, where I bought Brooke a British film magazine from 1964, with a profile of Laurence Harvey. For lunch, we went to a restaurant called Guero's where I had some great nachos with chicken and refried beans and cheese, along with a nice margarita. Lots of potential projects were discussed. We definitely were all re-inspired and re-energized by this week. After lunch we checked out the San Jose Hotel, which is where everyone wants to stay next year, but they weren't taking reservations for next year yet. Finally, Dinah and Brad dropped me off a the hotel about 4:20 pm and hugs were exchanged. Shortly after, Michael picked me up on his way home from work. We had pizza and all headed to bed by about 10:00 pm, since my flight leaves at 7:30 am tomorrow. I'm so glad I've met all these great people. I can't wait to read what people are going to write about this week.

Thursday March 15, 2001

My flight left around 7:30 am and I got into Minneapolis airport about 10:00 am. Since I had four and a half hours to wait there, I asked one of the information guys what there was to do around there. Of course, he suggested Mall of America, which was only ten minutes away by bus, and only cost me a dollar each way. I spent about two hours wandering around aimlessly, buying a few trinkets. It was big but not that interesting. It's a regular brand orgy. They're opening a new store/attraction called Cereal Adventures, where "your favorite breakfast cereals come to life." In light of reading Naomi Klein's book, No Logo, this is looking both ridiculous and scary. It was actually pretty bland, since almost every store I saw can be found in Toronto and every other North American city. Even Old Navy is opening in Toronto in the spring. Still, it was interesting to note that when I asked the man at airport information what there was to do in Minneapolis, the first thing he said was "Mall of America." We've become a society of shoppers. Yuk.

My flight from Minneapolis to Toronto was uneventful, and I got home by about 7:00 pm, back to the same lousy cold weather as I left. It was (sort of) good to be home.


I thought of trying to write an objective account of the 2001 SXSW Interactive conference, but realized I'm not capable of detached reportage when it comes to something like this. I would have had to have spoken to every important personality who attended and been able to summarize the reasons for their importance. I can't do that, mostly due to my own timidity about talking to everyone. I did meet a lot of people this year, but didn't go to "stalk" my favourite web celebrities. I just went to have fun, and ended up hanging around with the people who made me comfortable, whether they were well known or not. Someone mentioned that meeting all these people for the first time was like being back in high school. All one's insecurities return the first time one sees a group of well-known webloggers clustered together. For the most part, I swallowed hard and went up and introduced myself. But I didn't push it if they seemed chilly. By and large, that only happened a few times, and I won't detail it here. The bottom line is that for a gathering as large as this, it was remarkably easy to connect with people I'd been reading for months. As a result of meeting so many people, I think my weblog reading habits will definitely be affected. So many new favourites! So many fun memories! And already so much anticipation for next year.

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©2001 by James McNally and Consolation Champs.