on the shore of the ultimate sea

#sxsw: The Tweets Cometh

Many are painting this as the year Twitter reached mass acceptance, but for the crowd of internet types who headed to Austin last weekend for South by Southwest the service was already almost two years old.

I went down to Texas, and saw some great stuff, met interesting people and had a wonderful time, as usual1 and want to pass things along to you, dear reader. But in an effort to keep my fresh-faced Twitter followers who weren’t in Texas from fomenting a rebellion at rapid-fire updates I decided to collect everything I would have put into 140-character updates and leave them here. Old school! Hopefully you’ll enjoy, and, if not, dismiss with the speed with which you surely ignore many unwanted messages daily.

Day 1, Saturday, March 14

4:34 am: Awake from what cld pass 4 sleep w/ dog fidgeting all night between my sprawled legs. Dogsitting makes for strange bedfellows.

5:44 am: At LaGuardia, security line reaches around longer than I’ve ever seen. Involuntarily say Fuck when the functionary motions to the end.

5:46 am: Oh, it’s spring break.

5:48 am: Realize I forgot my driver’s license at home after scanning it for a co-op board application package. Luckily I have my passport.

5:50 am: Realize passport is expired. Too tired to start worrying, and have at least 20 minutes more line to figure out a plan.

6:03 am: Crisis averted; game the security line and TSA guy who’s usually cool2 informs me I can travel for a year on an expired passport.

6:45 am: Still at the gate; mechanical trouble=lower altitude=more fuel. Not sure this isn’t the makings of a end-of-runway fireball.

8:03 am: Ain’t it great when it’s easier to sleep on an airplane than is a bed? Dreams of chaos and upheaval.

8:28 am: Rainbow among translucent starboard cloud, black center makes it look like the eye of Mordor, then as plane descends, it’s outline emerges.

8:44 am (central time!): Grey C-130s with red tail markings on the ground in Memphis.

9:05 am: Detour in race to connection to buy I ♥ Elvis lighter in the Memphis airport gift shop for the Elvis fan in my life.

9:16 am: Little boy next to me is asked if he needs his motion pill. He does not, or so he says.

10:06 am: Perhaps this motion pill was to stop his perpetual fidgeting. I count tray table up and down 16 times.

10:39 am: Also, he can’t seem to stop farting. Gave me a sheepish look when I aimed the air jet at him.

11:06 am: Shrinking Texas ponds from the plane look like wounds w/o scabs, edges exposed, regrowth in process.

11:50 am: Get a cool Chaldean cabbie in Austin who blasts “Ramblin’ Man.” Welcome to Texas.

1:22 pm: Someone dressed as a pink gorilla shoots a cannon filled with money into the press tent.

1:23 pm: Photographer guy I’m with snags three ones and a five. Each is stapled to a tech services flyer.3

3:05 pm: Someone behind me talking about Dodgeball;4 Turn around and it’s Rex Sorgatz; welcome to New York Internet Dudes Spring Break.

3:55 pm: Had coffee with a PR rep for Maxis, where the next few years’ calendars seem to say in bold SPORE.

4:35 pm: Watching a group of ad people trying to solve a group dynamics challenge at Hyper Island’s workshop. They’re having difficulty.

4:45 pm: It’s the age-old blindfolded-have-to-make-a-square-with-a-rope trick. The disorder is amusing.
5:00 pm: Exercise deemed a failure, yet a learning experience for all.

6:11 pm: Should take a pit stop, but instead gossip with marketing wizards at the SoDA cocktail hour. Ships be sinkin’, or so I hear.

7:19 pm: Taxi driver’s a cross between Robert Blake and James Carradine, plus 100 pounds, after a stroke. May be drunk. Talking about New Mexico.

8:28 pm: With different lighting live Diggnation event at Stubb’s could be the USO Playboy scene from Apocalypse Now. More tiki torches next year.

8:39 pm: Still in awe over rabid fanboys. Dashing Sidekick notes dude on couch w/ Kevin Digg looks like Office Space “O face” guy.

9:59 pm: Configure contxts account after 2 ppl in an hour give me their card that way. Txt “parish” to 50500 for my deetz.

10:19 pm: Repair to Jaime’s, across from Stubbs. 15 people to a table, drunk high school Denny’s style. With better margaritas.

11:25 pm: En route to house party with bouncy castle.

11:35 pm: Bouncy castle party dead, head to Continental Club. “It’s Johnny Depp’s favorite bar in Austin.” Hmm.

11:55 pm: Evidently Continental’s also popular with the middle-aged lawyer biker wife set as well. Skip after waiting on line and realizing it’s $20 to enter.

1:19 am: Any semblance of booziness replaced by crushing exhaustion. Luckily jazzed-up PST-normalized late-night gamer arrives and gives energy.

1:35 am: Standing in a club outside area, older woman nearby twitching like a cokehead. She wears at least three flashing pins/items of flair.

2:05 am: It’s shocking every time: Golly, Austin’s crazy when the bars let out.

2:29 am: Dashing Sidekick appears overwhelmed by 4 drunk ladies chanting his name through rolled-up liquor posters in 15×10 diner lobby.

2:45 am: National Reuben Month appears to last forever. God bless us, every one.

3:35 am: I should not have brought my running shoes.

4:15 am: …pastrami bacon.

Day 2, Sunday, March 15

10:52 am: Tallying last night’s damage.

11:53 am: Get called back to New York a day early; even in the digital age, debauchery news couldn’t travel that fast, right?

1:52 pm: Brunch at hotel and a soak in the hot tub. Consider prying loose a landscaping stone to keep on lap and nap.

1:54 pm: Hot tub steam strangely chlorinated. Must be really clean.

2:40 pm: Suit ruined, skin zapped by overcharged hot tub chlorine. Itchy and burning.

2:42 pm: Call front desk, beg them to close hot tub before further damage is done. “For god’s sakes, that would have melted a baby.”

2:53 pm: Taxi driver laments not being granted musical ability by God, but instead a torturous songwriting muse he can’t make into fame.

3:05 pm: Put hot tub incident in the past, except when constantly reminded by stinging skin. Video interview soon, must compose self.

3:25 pm: About to interview a designer who worked on Obama’s website. Sort of pitting out. Chalk it up to chemical burns.

3:30 pm: We’re delayed due to Julia Allison interviewing in the slot before us. She rambles. But I’m sure 85% of audience is here to see her.

4:05 pm: Interview concluded. Photographer from the other day gives thumbs up as we’re going. Not sure if that’s good or bad.5

4:10 pm: Leave a panel because couple behind me is talking and loudly eating chips.

4:19 pm: In a panel about software development in Africa. No one seems to agree on anything, even among panelists.

4:51 pm: Holding seat in promising “New Think for Old Publishers.” Consider lying and saying friend’s handicapped if pressed to give up the space.

5:05 pm: Friend arrives, trading seat-saving for much needed coffee.

5:15 pm: Clay Shirkey: “Long form writing can’t be about now” inre: Twitter

5:18 pm: more Shirkey: “Copyediting is one of those things you can do, like scratching your own back, that’s better when someone else does it.”

5:35 pm: Shirkey looks utterly pained by this resume-speak from pub bigwigs. Audience getting restless.6

5:38 pm: I’m not sure why they don’t just let Shirkey talk; he’s got more of a clue than the rest of this group.

5:55 pm: Audience showing publishers’ age. Apparently they came looking for free consulting services. Found an irritated crowd.

6:15 pm: Hear first rumors Penguin paid to place panel. Shirkey paperback giveaway at door a good clue.

6:29 pm: Join lovely friends at Penguin afterparty and run into Shirkey. Tell him they should have let him talk the whole time. “Thank you. Thank you.”

6:45 pm: At Gawker party, along with most of New York. Find Dashing Sidekick commanding a large table of interesting people.

7:59 pm: Dashing Sidekick’s inroads with our waitress enable prompt drink service, to my sobriety’s chagrin.

8:46 pm: Vehemently arguing with a total stranger about how she shouldn’t disparage babymaking. Waaaay too early for this.

9:19 pm: Saved from wild intoxication by a walk to Ranch 616, where I consume a delicious ribeye with some kindly Canadians and Dashing Sidekick.

10:49 pm: Cruise by the Facebook Friends:Get party…about 100 potentially gotten friends on the sidewalk too many. Continue to Tumblr.

11:19 pm: Procure a Tumblr of bourbon at Tumblr. Wonder how a company w/o a business model can throw such an affair. (Though not open bar.)

12:54 am: Dashing Sidekick is making designs on a Twitter Queen, who is gyrating clumsily.

1:09 am: She dances like she has 14k followers.

1:43 am: Swing dancing break? A couple strutting around on stage Swing Kids style confirms this is a nerd party.

2:19 am: Dance around a bit half-heartedly to the TumblDJ. He’s about as into it as we are.

2:48 am: Head across the street to see the Google jam and thankfully we make it in time for Austin’s elastic last call. Chat with smart people.

3:19 am: Wander over to the sole late-night spot, only to be turned away.

3:20 am: Hilarity comes as we mill around and Gary V and a posse of ~15 dudes roll up. Gary offers $1,000 for entry for the group but is denied.

3:25 am: Raid Dashing Sidekick’s minibar, look for trashbag to fill with snacks and booze but he’s in a place too classy for bin liners.

3:35 am: “I run a multimillion dollar internet business…” is Sidekick’s “As your lawyer I advise you…” he is my Oscar Zeta Acosta this weekend.

3:37 am: Ill-advised public drinking and scheming.

Day 3, March 16

9:17 am: Hotel security calls to confirm my incident in the hot tub. My wake up call’s not set for another hour, but I get up anyway. Feeling good.

10:45 am: Administrativa. Change flight. Tell hotel I’m checking out tomorrow. They comp last night on account of chemical peel.

10:53 am: See a guy stretching along the lake who has a calf muscle tattooed over his calf muscle.

11:25 am: Thinking that scheduling the money-management 2.0 panel at 10am won’t benefit those who need it most, the carousing wastrels. Ahem!7

11:35 am: In a panel on outsourcing, I hear the TweetDeck chirp for the thousandth time.

2:01 pm: High hopes for Graffiti Research Labs’ James Powderly’s keynote.

2:28 pm: Powderly sez: “release early, often and with rap music”

2:32 pm: Note: look up Cantonese rapper MC Yan and Lazy Mutha Fucka

2:38 pm: Powderly’s got a pretty amazing story of his trip to China (and subsequent imprisonment).

3:38 pm: Finally get to see the man behind IMDB. But it was a community of film freaks like him that seem to have made it happen.

3:42 pm: IMDB’s Col Needham wants to make every listing on the site available to stream. How amazing would that be?

3:45 pm: The scale of IMDB’s business is amazing. 250k volunteers, 600k items of data submitted a week. 3 billion page views a month.

4:42 pm: Commiseration with Dashing Sidekick and another gentleman, deep conversation on the nature of success results.

7:32 pm: Sunset run along the lakes. Get lost, find a weird beach-type-thing with lots of bikinis. Lots of dogs, kids smoking weed in Austin parks.

8:49 pm: Order room service, the great club sandwich I had last time at this hotel. Eat half before I realize it’s a chicken sandwich.

9:23 pm: Meet friends at the Onion/Barbarian Group party. Last time I saw one of them she was blind drunk and talking about stabbing pervy businessmen.

9:48 pm: Talking with an actual scientist who studies black holes.

11:23 pm: Despite rapidly approaching wake up call I can’t muster the heart to leave.

Day 4, March 17

5:45 am: Songwriter cabbie from the other day is back; doesn’t seem to recognize me when I mention our earlier convo.

5:48 am: Wow, he’s having a weird morning, evidently. Talking one-world government and such.

5:52 am: Cmon, of course I’m egging him on. What else would I do?

5:59 am: Watch out for the massive superhighway the NWO’s building to control you, sheeple. I’ve been warned.

6:15 am: Kind of appropriate a lunatic should help spirit me back to New York.

8:19 am: Battlestar Galactica Frakkin Special keeps me from getting any sleep on the flight home.

11:39 am: Avoid Cheeburger Cheeburger in the JetBlue terminal. Terrbile Terrbile. Worst burger I’ve ever had. In my life!

  1. I’m not really an old hand at this; last year was my first time down. But it’s been educational enough to stay in my calendar for a few years []
  2. he’s in the Northwest/Delta terminal at LGA, kind of looks like a young Tony Kornheiser…he’s seriously the coolest TSA rep. I’ve ever met. []
  3. “Here’s some marketing, if that’s what you’re hear to cover,” he says. I’m glad they’re serving High Life along with Sierra Mist products. []
  4. first mention of very, very many []
  5. There is supposed to be video evidence of this; the stage manager gave an ‘it’ll be up later today’ answer. It’s still not up, but I’ll update when that changes. []
  6. It was pretty funny to watch, actually, he was kneading his head with his fists and sticking his chin into his chest. A good summary of all this is here, or if you want the blow-by-blow, in the hash tag channel. []
  7. luckily it’s here! []

Written by Nick

March 22nd, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Posted in Technology,Travel

One Response to '#sxsw: The Tweets Cometh'

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  1. I’m not sure if this really cool or an incredible indication of severe OCD.

    Scott Primeau

    23 Mar 09 at 18:05

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