Austin, We Have Landed

Welcome to AustinSo I got into Austin early noon, and hooked up with Erik Sagen and Eric Shepherd at the Airport. SXSWi is my first “social” conference experience.

We spent most of the afternoon getting lost until we got a feel for the major roads, and now we can generally find our way around.

I couldn’t check in until 3PM, so we hung out at their hotel for a while. One weird thing about Austin is that the roads have a kind of intertwined laid-back logic to them, which is different from the “sudden plot twist” style of New England. Erik and Eric are from Upstate New York, which has a highly-ordered and pleasant highway system. Also, the traffic lights here are about twice as long as the ones back home. I guess us Northerners really are in a hurry all the time.

I’m staying at the Hawthorne Suites by the Airport, thanks to JWynia for the tip. This is a great hotel value. For about $100 (incl. tax) a day, I get about 300 sq-ft, including a bedroom with a door and a living area with a hide-a-bed couch and a larger TV for a total of 2. There’s a sink, a fridge, and a microwave, a 24-hour convenience store next door and a fitness center and pool. There’s also a 24-hour business center with a printer, and free 802.11G wireless. The rooms are very very clean and crisp, with accessible power outlets and absolutely no weird smells. Eric waxed enthusiastically about the quality of the hand soap. Nice place to hang out and chat, with the

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The area around the convention center is also very walkable. The blocks are very small. Brush Square Park, for example, isn’t a vast expanse of green like I thought it would be. It’s maybe 75-100 feet square (see pic).

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After getting our badges, we bummed around the convention area to meet people. Erik called up Jonathan Snook from the 9rules contact list, and we got something to eat at “Daddy’s Grill” on 6th Street.

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We were joined later by Jakob Heuser, whose the captain of the “Team Freestyle” bowling team I’m in. Then I also met Robert Nyman, visiting all the way from Sweden. A lot of socializing today, especially for me. I was particularly struck by how much freelancing was on people’s minds; we all seem to have had common experiences with less-than-ideal company environments, and we’re all at different points of resolving the problem for ourselves. It’s an interesting crowd to hang with. I know very little about who’s who in the world of web development, but I’m seeing that’s it’s populated with really great people trying to combine quality of work with quality of life. Fantastic.

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From left to right: The “bag of swag” staging area! I left my bag in the car, otherwise I’d tell you what was in it. Then the wait to get into the club where a ton of SXSWi people I didn’t know were hanging out. Finally, Erik and I outside the convention centered, with our freshly-minted badges.

Tomorrow I’m planning on hitting the following sessions:

  • Better Blogging Brainstorming — experienced bloggers share tips for creating compelling content

  • We Got Naked, Now What? — personal blogging and professional blogging, where is the line? Jory Desjardins and Evelyn Rodriguez, among others!

  • How to Increase Creativity at Work — an experiential workshop on creativity, it says. Sounds interesting!

  • How to Create Passionate Users — passionate creators Bert Bates and Kathy Sierra!