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SxSW 2009 Recap

First, let me publicly announce something: SXSW was worth my time, and I did love going. I learned a few things about myself though, that I’ll remember for a long time to come.

First, while I love people, I cannot hang out with anyone for very long. This isn’t to say that I don’t love my friends who I hung out with at SXSW. I have some amazing friends, who likely saw an uglier side of me in Texas. That’s a shame, and I cannot express my apologies to them enough.

Second, celebrity fawning is just as much of an issue in tech circles as it is anywhere else. The very things I despise about Hollywood culture are very prevalent in the Valley culture as well. Anyone that knows me, knows how I absolutely despise treating people as anything more than that.

A funny thing happened while I was there however.

I sat in one of the last talks of the conference. When it was over I got up to collect my stuff to leave. I noticed someone collecting themselves behind me. It was Matt Cutts. For those of you who don’t know who Matt Cutts is, he’s the head of Google’s web spam team. He’s directly responsible for helping ensure the links you click on Google’s search results are valid.

I was completely star struck.

Matt was awesome. He’s a very level-headed, clean, nice guy. He even gave me a few breath mints (maybe I needed them). He even uses a PC (whoa). After a few minutes of chatting about relevant search results in google, and keeping the results clean (when desired), he went on to talk to some other people.

The absence made me realize, that for as much as I hated people worshiping other people, I was doing it too. Matt Cutts represents a guy who does things that I admire, and hope to imitate. I suspect other people fawn over folks they feel the same about.

So, I’d like to publicly apologize for being rude to some folks on twitter, and (more importantly) to my friends who tolerated me at SXSW. I had a great time, and it was better because all of you who were with me. It just took me a while to realize it. To those of you who were there: I was a big bag of douche, and I appreciate your ability to let me figure it out myself.

I’d like to recap all of SXSW, but it’d take weeks for me to write it and days for you to read it. I’ll just go on a rant about some of the other folks I met while I was there (Besides the awe-inspiring super-duper Matt Cutts). I’m horrible at remembering names (and I was drunk a lot), so if I butcher your name, _please_ forgive me.

The first night, I went out on my own. I saw Ted, then went to a bar off 6th st. Later, I was able to hang out with the Blogsmith guys (Plus the always awesome Erik Hersman). Gavin, Mike, Krystoff, and Bill were all a blast to hang out with and share a few 7&7s with. We had Thai and saw a burlesque show at Emos. Some of those girls had more hair on their armpits than me.

The next night Eric, Ryan, (who I shared a hotel room with) and me hung out at Gingerman. Gingerman is a story by itself (it has Old Rasputin Stout on tap). While we were hanging out, we met some of the guys and girls from Agency Net. I’m from West Palm, which is about 35 miles north of Ft. Lauderdale, where Agency Net calls home. Nini was taking pictures and hanging out with Larissa, while Augustin, Chris, and I talked about comic books and Death Metal.

The same night, Ryan and I went to the official opening party (Eric went back to the hotel, sick), and met the rest of the Ushahidi guys. David, Teddy, Erik (Hersman, same as above), Jon, and Kofi were all at the party, and it was awesome to meet them. They are likely some of the coolest people I met the entire time was in Austin (sorry to everyone else, but those guys are pretty awesome). They (minus Kofi) did a panel talk on web apps in emerging markets. One of the things I’m most certain about right now, is how much I intend to get involved with Ushahidi. Awesome stuff.

On Sunday, Alex cued me in on a conservative meetup at Moonshine, ‘Right-By-Southwest’. The event was put on by by Patrick Ruffini, on behalf of Michael Williams. Some of the awesome folks I met: Pat, Ned, Joe, and Robbie were all awesome to talk to and hang with. Hearing Michael Williams talk about his experiences in the mis-named Texas Railway Authority was awesome. Some people exude a sense of awesome, and Mr. Williams is definitely one of those guys.

Somewhere in-between all this, I met some other folks. I don’t remember when, or how but I recall meeting Vladimir, Billy, Todd, and Seth.

Also in between all of this was BarCamp Miami. I definitely love a BarCamp, and this was definitely the craziest BarCamp I have ever seen. Eric, Erik, and Ryan presented (all in different rooms). Good times there. The were even handing out free burritos. I expected the burritos to suck (free, right), but they were freakin awesome.

Monday, we had the Florida Creatives meetup at Gingerman (that place is awesome). Erik, Alex, Eric, Mark, Ryan, Etan, and a few others (bad with names, sorry) all hung out for a few hours to continue the tradition we’ve kept for years now. It was good to have a little home nostalgia over a thousand miles away from home. I’d met Mark Jaquith before, but never had much chance to talk. It was cool to talk about some non-tech stuff with someone who I respect a bunch. I got too drunk that night, and punched a parking meter. While my hand is still bruised, I’ll bet that parking meter will think twice.

Tuesday was the final day of the conference. I met some cool guys from YNot, presenting on a panel about how to make money in the adult industry. The lessons were pretty typical actually. Meet people, build trust, don’t suck. Afterwards I went to the finale party. I don’t remember the name of the place, but I do recall it had a mechanical bull.

I saw Vishal there with a very pretty friend of his (whose name I do not recall). I met Vishal at FOWA, and he’s a pretty awesome guy. His friend was pushing PR for New Orleans. I mentioned she had work left to be done. She agreed, but had me swear I’d be an evangelist for New Orleans. So, here I am … ;)

After that I hung with Teddy and Jon the rest of the night. I said it before, but those guys really are awesome.

The next day I came home. I was hungover (from drinking) and sick (from Ryan). My plane was delayed for hours. I’m pretty happy to be home, but I’m happier that I went to South By Southwest

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