Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

Did I really go?

Time flies.  It just does.  Life’s short, and getting shorter.  No matter how fast I can pop popcorn in the microwave or fill up a tank of gas or have pizza delivered, time just keeps on zipping by, and, like TiVo, I’m also getting better and better at fast forwarding through the “boring” parts.

Where was I?  Oh yes, Austin.  For South by Southwest, the annual uber-tribal gathering of social Web designers and developers.

Susie, Matt and I headed down together, and Shane Birley of LeftRightMinds came along as well.

The size of the conference was, to my untrained eye, perhaps doubled this year.  I figured that, since I’ve gone for several years now, and since I know more and more people who are going (i.e. the Vancouver Mafia), that I’d meet fewer people.

But in fact the opposite was true.  Not only did I meet more people this year, but the people I did meet, the majority were attending for the first time.

With all those new people, I also worried that the conference would “jump the shark” a bit as well, but that wasn’t the case at all. Not only were the panels excellent, but the quality of the people in the halls and the parties was still high.

And by high, I mean: smart, doing interesting projects, and for the most part, not huckster-ish self-promotion. I mean, yeah, there was a lot of bravado and new projects launching, but the energy powering it is still a wide-eyed “gee-whiz,” check out this thing called “Twitter”, and not a jaded “let’s reach additional marketshare and penetrating a new vertical by rebranding this product with new social features” attitude.

I also had many, many good meals that are hard to find in Vancouver, mostly built around re-fried beans and red sauce.

It was definitely colder this year, but not as rainy as last, and the parties were as off-the-hook as ever.  One bad note: Facebook, your invite process sucked, and if it was 1/100th as hard to join your site as it was to get into your party, you’d only have 8,000 members today.  The buzz around Facebook I heard at SXSW was almost uniformly downbeat: privacy issues, leadership issues, valuation issues, “spam” issues*.  If it wasn’t already such a juggernaut, I’d be worried about it.

* “spam” because it’s not really a spam issues being discussed, it’s attention-interruption and useful app development issues.

Oh, and Susie’s book reading went well, but was as sparsely attended as you’d expect the first session of the day on the last day would be.  No one at SXSW gets up early, and by early, the first session’s just at 10 a.m. 😊

So, that’s my round up.  Photos come later, when I have time.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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