Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

So, what did I do in Austin?!

...quite a bit, actually, though not as much as I would've liked. There is only so much you can catch of the whole SXSW experience. Unfortunately, I didn't have a laptop with me, and had limited 'net access. Still, I wrote quite a bit in the Handspring, using the Targus collapsible keyboard...

So, now that I am caught up on sleep, work, and email, I figured I'd post it all finally. Here's the first installment from Friday of last week...

Around 9pm, Austin time -

Well, it was a long ass day indeed. I am being good, wrapping it up early, taking a shower, putting on a little TV (PBS documentary on the history of 20th Century opera. Quite good.) and probably getting some sleep as soon as I wind down.

Sleep... as in SXSW is not conducive to _______. The flight from San Jose to LA was a pain in the ass... I was exhausted and it was delayed due to a perceived discrepancy about how many people were on the plane. How many times can you walk up and down the aisles of a plane counting the passengers? Quite a few, apparently. Very cramped. However, I lucked out with thw LA to Austin flight -- nobody on each side of me. Strrretch!

Got a cab from airport to hotel - no shuttles available, $20 cab ride. I then took a shower to feel human again, changed, and talked to Lynn Bender before heading off to the convention center... about a mile long walk, but fortunately a short ride thanks to public transit. Time was important, because I wanted to get my badge before registration closed.

On the way, I received two calls, but only heard a ghostly voice for a microsecond before the connection died. Must be Brad. There's something vaguely appropriate about going to SXSW, seeing the Austin Convention Center's main entrance looming in the distance, and shouting into a mobile "I'm almost there! Your connection sucks!" Had that problem with calling Brad's mobile a lot, actually. It's cute and tiny, but it seemed to lack ooomph all throughout the convention.

I didn't have to walk far before I noticed Brad, who was hanging out with Brian Aker. Spent the better (worst?!) part of an hour waiting for my pass to be sorted out, while Brad and Brian took off to the Milkshake Media Open House. Ah well... all that dairy isn't good for me anyway, and I have a limited tolerance for ice cream.

As soon as I got the badges issue sorted out, I headed off to the opening night party and ran into Brad and Brian... apparently their earlier party was nearby. Talked briefly to Sooz of, then decided to wander around, get a few drinks, and generally socialize. Chatted with John Halcyon Styn, who I had previously met at Burning Man when he dropped by the LJ camp. We talked about communities, and how you deal with growth's tendency to weaken the community bond. I have a suspicion that growth and its effects will be one of the underlying issues that I think about for the next few days... personally, I think that if growth kills a community, that is fundamentally a design issue. Design can be changed.

So... they had free vodka and bourbon drinks at the party, along with some light appetisers. Unfortunately, they didn't serve food on my flights, and the drinks hit me pretty quickly, leaving me feeling dazed and dog tired. Although I don't smoke very often, (usually only when I drink a lot...) this was a good time for a stimulant. I hung out on the smoking lounge for a bit, talking with web designers, video producers, etc. Seems all of them worked in the past on college radio, so we shared some stories. I talked about the time when we did an interview with Primus in a hot tub, and had to edit out the sounds of everyone taking bong hits. College radio is fun, kids. It used to be more fun back in the day, too... but sooner or later you realize that paying your rent might be a good thing.

Afterwards, I hung out, watching Cory Doctorow from the EFF showing off his showing off his bazillion-in-one screwdriver/pliers Leatherman to Justin Hall, while Justin was talking about cheap ways to visit Japan, where he has been living for awhile. I wish I had brought my Leatherman, but I left it in my bag at the hotel. At least I didn't do what Justin did a few days earlier and accidentally take it through security. I found the concept of all of us being thousands of miles from anything that might be called home, yet bringing our Leatherman tools kind of amusing, though I suspect I was the only one who brought it with an actual purpose in mind. Needed something to cut the nylon cord that would support the new LiveJournal banner, after all. They might not look like much, but don't mess with Cory or Justin in a back alley somewhere, or they'll cut/file/screw you, man...

Cory was the first to notice me, and mentioned how much he liked LJ and the friends he has there (such as Reive and her s/o.) I was a bit at a loss as to what to say to Cory... I have to admit that I haven't read his sci-fi and wasn't in the mood to talk about EFF really. Besides, I really wanted to talk to Justin, as I have loved his site for years and years. It was the first online diary, of sorts, that really mattered to me, though jwz and his gruntles come in a close second.

Talking to Justin got very interesting very quickly. I mentioned how once when I was doing research on creating a Cab Calloway website, I found his series of posts that mentioned Peter Brooks, who is Cab Calloway's grandson. He was tickled about that... We talked about Peter and Harlem, overseas communities, our efforts in promoting them, about internationalization of LJ, about Japanese journals and communities, etc. Very cool guy who reminds me of my friend Randall. I'm glad Justin doing cool things off in Japan, rather than working for, which seemed like a waste of his talents to me.

Justin is, in many ways, a idol of sorts to me. He made personal diary sites into an art form... one of the things I like most about Justin's site is that he doesn't use a weblog, but does things freeform, with endless crosslinks between relevant stories. This creates the kind of thing I love most about websites... ones that are incredibly deep and content-rich, that just unfold like a lotus, unveiling endlessly.

We talked about that... about how weblogs actually suffer in a way by imposing linearity, and that what would be interesting would be something designed for organized non-linearity. In some ways, I wish that journals were more like old Apple hypercard stacks... and who is to say they can't be?!

After his stint at, I'm glad to see that Justin is writing with a new passion and that he's still all about bringing the web to the people... that's why I fundamentally have a hard time with restricting growth of LJ. Yes, there will be growing pains, but there will also be an imperative to evolve... and that is ultimately where its at. Want a meaningful business? Instill the imperative to evolve. As much as I dislike Microsoft, that is exactly what Bill Gates does, and that is why he is so successful. It would be cool (for everyone but Microsoft shareholders) to imagine what would have happened if Microsoft hadn't jumped in headfirst when it came to the Internet.

I left immediately thereafter, and got back by 9 PM, weary and drained. Meeting Justin was really great though. I had thought in the past of using some of my timeshare time over in Japan, but this night further reinforced the idea.

I'm writing Justin back soon with a list of Japanese LiveJournal users and communities... some of those I will mention are obvious choices for me, but would anyone like to recommend other Japanese LiveJournal users and communities to me?

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