SXSW Interactive Weekend Report [Austin, 2009]

Toronto – As many of you know, aside from attending the music portion of South By Southwest, I am also attending the Interactive portion as well. I guess being a web developer has it’s perks. Here are some random notes about the interactive weekend so far:

– Everyone bloody twitters. I had no idea this twitter thing was so hot before I came here. I think it’s way more popular then facebook. Everyone tweets each other. I do have to say, once I got a hang of it, twitter is ridiculously addictive. We are #panicmanual on twitter. Follow us.

– Everyone has an iphone.

– If you were a girl who likes pale guys with pony tail, glasses and a goatee, then boy, is SXSW a wet dream for you. I think one out of every 7 guys has this look.

– If you were a girl who likes overweight guys, then honey, this is REALLY the place for you.

– Apple dominates the laptop market. I would say about 60% of people attending talks has a laptop in the room, blogging or tweeting away as the talk goes on. A.D.D is at an all time high here. I am old school, so I went to the panels with a good ole notebook and a pen. Until I won a moleskin at the Adobe stage, then I used the moleskin with the pen.

– “Social Media” is the new hot word at this festival. Everyone talks about the Social Media here, you would think we are all part of some revolution or something.

– I feel a bit out of my element here, despite being a software/web developer, I pay almosts no attention to tech sites on the internet, so when people are laughing it up when a speaker makes fun of techcrunch, or when panelist refer to other internet celebrities by name (some guy named zeldman..or the people who run digg), I feel like a stranger in another world. Maybe I should look into sites that aren’t music or sports or shopping deals or celeb gossip or style related…

– Everyone here is ridiculously nice and easy to talk to. All the free alcohol probably helps.

Party Report
Here are some random thoughts from the parties.

AMODA (Austin Museum of Digital Arts) Presents Laptop DJ Battle
– The only party I went to on Friday night, partially because of the late arrival time, and partially because I was enjoying one of the best burgers ever at Casino El Camino. Dive bars rule. This party was okay, the laptop dj battle was mixed bag, there were some good dj’s and there were some awful, awful djs. one of them butchered MIA’s Paper Planes to the point that I wanted the Tamil Tigers to arrive and just take care of his business. There was no free alcohol at this party, which was a downer. It was also freezing, so being on the rooftop patio wasn’t the best of ideas. I did meet some interesting people from Colorado, Ireland and Scotland. The dude from Scotland said Camera Obscura was the grumpiest band ever. I didn’t remember any names, so I hope I never see them again, so that I don’t reintroduce myself by accident (pulling a mark).

Adobe Stage Cafe – I have to hand it to Adobe – they were exceptionally awesome at SXSW – free beer (even if it is Miller’s Lite), free food (quesadillas, fruits, cheese, tortillas and guac) and lots of giveaways. As I previously mentioned, I won a Moleskin. They handed out a bunch of cards, and you have to trade with other people so that you get five of the same type, and when you do, you get your name entered into a draw. I won that draw, although the grand prize was Adobe Master Suite, which is pretty good . You can’t download a moleskin! Also met some people from Minnesota and Argentina. I resisted saying that the only thing I know about Bueno Aires was from what I saw in Starship Troopers

Registrants Lounge – More free beer. That’s good. The DJ let me use his power source to recharge my iphone. Also good. Met some nice people from North Carolina, Vermont and Tennesse, tried to test out a theory that five Iphones would fry an egg if it was in the middle of a semi circle of iphones who were all receiving calls at the same time. No, we weren’t high. Tried my best not to make fun of people who are from small towns.

Dorkbot – It was some kind of robot party. Free beer. There was something with Tesla coils or some shit. Talked to a father and son team who built a robot on wheels. Then I asked them if that was something they did to bond. In hindsight, might have been assholish. Met some people from Houston who were doing some kind of video streaming website, I thought they were dark asians, only afterwards when I looked at their business cards, did I realize that they were mexicans. Well maybe south americans, whatever a Guiterrez is.

SXSW opening Party by Frog Design – The main party of the night, hosted at the Mexican Cultural center. This party was huge, there was free alcohol. The thing with free alcohol was that you have to always tip the server. I forgot to tip the first time around (when I got two beers for me and myself), so the second time I tipped the person five bucks (four beers, five dollars..seems fair to me) and the woman server thanked me like three times and grabbed my arm in gratitude, it was like i just saved her child from cancer or something. Highlight of the party was meeting Jeffrey Tambor (George Senior from Arrested Development), Luckily for me, I had met a girl named Christine earlier in the night at a Mexican restaurant and we were at the party together, so I was able to get her to do all the work in securing a picture with the man. Naturally we asked about the movie and he said it was good to go..not sure if it was a canned response or not. Whatevs

SXSW Web Awards – THe premier event of the night, free drinks and food were on the menu. I went there and surely enough, I got a free drink ticket. At this point I realized there was no open bar. The free food available? Fried Rice, and Yaki Soba. WTF. I went to Texas and they served me fried rice? That would be like a man getting out of prison after spending 25 years there and then walking straight into a gay pride parade. Seriously, fried rice? It wasn’t even good. I talked to a fellow Asian (one that lived in Austin, nonetheless) and she even said that the fried rice was sub par. I then asked her about SXSW music portion and she didn’t even care about it. Almost everyone I’ve talked to who were locals were not really interested in SXSW music. Weird. The award show itself was interesting. I think the average acceptance speech was about 30 seconds. As a result the award show was over in about 35 minutes. Definitely not the most glamorous awards show.

Tweeter Party – By this time, I was exhausted. However, I am using pretty motivated by getting free stuff, so I went to the Tweeter party. Awkward. The problem with twitter or any sort of internet community based party is that a lot of people who talk to each other constantly have ever never really even MET the other person physically. So when you attend this kind of party, you get a lot of awkward stairs and uncertain approaches. However, by this time, I was too tired and didn’t really care to meet anyone, so I just went in, ate about six delicious chicken wings, had some celery sticks and left.

Facebook party – lineup around the block. no thank you.

Google Party – lineup around the block. Das Not compute. Party – This party had the best food by far – fajitas! No open bar though (one ticket). i just had my food, drank my beer and attempted to talk to two people, one of which talked for half an hour nonstop about databases and security tiering with rss feeds or some shit. I zoned out about five seconds in and started thinking about what kind of goods they were giving away at the google and facebook parties.

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, South By Southwest

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.