South By 4…(45 of 90)

It’s midnight here in Austin, the end of the South by Southwest weekend.

It’s a sad day. Not because the event is over. There are still three days left. But there is a shift on Monday and Tuesday. The parties slow, the conference slows. The business begins to set in as the end draws near. At least for Interactive.

A whole year crammed into 5 full days. It’s hardly enough time really. Still, it was an amazing day in Austin.

The day started with a trip to The Spiderhouse for some work. Unfortunately, Ball State University still requires that I, you know, do my job. That means dealing with administrative tasks.

That was dispensed with quickly enough and my friend Jenny Toomey, who now works for the Ford Foundation, and I had lunch, caught up on old times and laughed quite a bit. She’s a lovely woman, one I’m proud to know. We’ve traveled long roads the past ten years, but life has really evened out for us.


We parted ways at the Convention Center just as Sarah Krueger met me at the coffee bar on the first floor, which is my unofficial meeting place every year because it’s very simple to find. Sarah works for the RGK Foundation through the University of Texas. Although that’s not how we met. We met on Twitter last SXSW and never got around to face-to-face.

Corrected! (You will see her video at The Cult of Me tomorrow.)

Later, I swung over to the Hilton (thanks to Four Square, which I admit I used) where I hung out with Brian Zisk, an old friend from the Wired/SF days. He introduced me to the Toby Padilla, the vice president for mobile at TweetDeck (the best application ever), Justin Thorp from Clearspring (and previously the Library of Congress, which I needed to finish The Cult of Me!) and the Four Square team.

Then it was back to the Convention Center to hang with the MINjas for a bit before Eric Hellweg and I headed over to Fogo de Chao for the Unwired Nation party, hosted by our friends Eric and Stacey. They’ve had this party for several years (who can remember how many) and they are simply two of the nicest guys you will meet in this business.


Hellweg and I left around 7 pm, headed to the Hilton for a quick recharge before hitting the Palm Door, home to the BizSpark Accelerator Party. I’m not a huge partygoer (anymore), but I’m one of the emcee’s at the event so I wanted to catch some of the presentations.

Although truth be told, it was more party than presentation. For instance:


(Notice Evan’s arm politely off the young lady’s shoulder; my arm is wrapped around her. I believe, if I was guessing, she wanted that switched.)

Eric jetted with the Editor in Chief from CNN Money (who took this picture). Evan Ratliff, my former Wired colleague, arrived in town for the Film festival, and we headed off to Star Seeds, the best diner in Austin.

Evan worked the research desk at Wired in 1999; I was an editorial intern. We were friendly, but not close friends back then. The power of social networks, though, helped us find our way back together. It’s been amazing to watch him from a distance. He’s turned into this amazing feature writer.

I know this because he was just nominated for a National Magazine Award in Feature Writing for his story “Vanish,” in Wired.

I think we’ve got more in common than either of us realized. Certainly that came out in our conversation tonight.

Which is just another reason why I love this conference.

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