There Is No Cat

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Notes to a future self

I tried writing a wrapup of SXSW on the plane on the way home, but it didn't ring true, so I'm not going to post it. This is my second try as we approach Newark airport. I have distinctly mixed feelings about the experience. On the one hand, I don't think I took enough advantage of the opportunity to network. I tried, and I succeeded to some degree. I met almost everyone I wanted to at one point or another. I met a number of people I had no idea existed before SXSW, and they were all fascinating. I had some excellent conversations with people like Virginia DeBolt about the quality of light in the southwest where she lives; Elizabeth Perry about giving yourself permission to be creative; Jakob Heuser about online community; Vanessa Tan and Lucien Teo about job frustrations; Raines Cohen about flying toasters, real-life community building and co-housing; Andy Baio about the Dave Winer Remix Contest and side projects taking over your life; Doc Searls (who looked at my name tag and greeted me like an old friend) about radio geekery; Derek Powazek and Eric Rice (separately) about storytelling; Dori Smith about the (improving, hallelujah) health of her husband Tom Negrino; Maggie Arganbright about broadcasting, accessibility, Amtrak, football, and wine and cheese; Jeneane Sessum about a bunch of stuff including the Fray Cafe; Molly Holzschlag (very briefly) about getting involved with the Web Standards Project; Derek Featherstone about how to test for accessibility and if following the guidelines is enough; Gordon Montgomery about kicking ass and taking names in accessibility; Andy Budd about how to reach the point where people listen to what you say; Rick McCauley about photography, appropriate tech, and how to network and run a business; Trey Piepmeier about the life of a solo practitioner; Jenaro Diaz about photography and awards (congratulations, Jenaro, I saw that your site won!); Georgy Cohen about the nuisance of people always telling you the same "joke" that stopped being funny, oh, ever; and most of all Elaine Nelson about a bunch of stuff that can't adquately be explained here. And I'm certainly forgetting a bunch of people.

But I'm disappointed in myself for a few missed opportunities. I went to the Web Standards Project annual meeting, the first open one ever. It was very interesting, and I even got my two cents in on the topic of how you get web developers to use web standards (one-on-one evangelism was my answer; I've seen it work in one or two cases in my current job). But I didn't put myself forward to participate in any of the after-meeting conversations, and I'm not sure why I didn't. I think I was feeling a little stunod by the end of the day and my judgement was not so great, and I'm sure there's a good reason for it, but I'm still less than pleased with myself on that count. I had an opportunity to join some interesting people in an important discussion and I dropped the ball and wound up going to bed early that evening after doing not much of anything. Wasted evening, and there weren't enough evenings available that I could afford to do that. I'm sure three straight nights of three and a half hours of sleep played into that, which was weird, because I didn't stay out later than midnight on any given night.

I suppose I'm probably beating myself up too much. That incomplete list in the first paragraph is pretty long, so I was doing something right. For a first time attendee, I did okay.

In the Macintosh development community several years ago, there was the concept of SmartFriends™, "A network of people who know what they're doing. A network that survives corporate blunders, reorgs, and failures." SXSW has that kind of feel.

I'm sure I'll write more about the sessions that energized me later. But, like soylent green, SXSW is made of people, and it seemed most important to write about that.

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Posted at 8:49 AM

Comments

Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

Hell you had me beat--you actually got to a lot of panels and took in a lot of information. I was like a mouth hanging open the whole time and basically felt good about not 1) falling down in front of people or 2) tossing my cookies on stage.

I think you did great to meet that many folks and take in some great sessions. I think we older folks can go to these things and judge our experience by what we might call The Doc Factor: If you got to chat with Doc for a few minutes, it was a success. Because his warm, open style and good conversation -- along with his over 40 demographic -- means you were actually right where you needed to be.

It was GREAT meeting you. I'm no expert, but I think we'll do even better next year!!!

Posted by Jeneane at 6:31 PM, March 16, 2006 [Link]

It was great meeting you too, Jeneane. I seemed to talk to a surprising number of over-40s, which was good. Makes me think I might have a future in the web thing. :-)

The panels were interesting and all, and a couple of them even got me excited about what I do and in directions to go, but really, they provided the excuse to meet neat people. Next year (or the year after, since I'm not sure I'll be able to go next year due to a potential conflict), I think I'll be more prepared. It was hard to prepare adequately this time, since I didn't really know what to expect. No doubt I'll get more accomplished next time.

Posted by ralph at 4:26 PM, March 17, 2006 [Link]

I hear ya! I've been putting off writing a wrapup in favor of summaries of my notes.

Maybe next year, if there is a next year, I'll be over my fangirlishness enough to feel a tad less dorky. ;)

Posted by Elaine at 7:05 PM, March 17, 2006 [Link]

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