Posts Tagged ‘sxsw’

Official SXSW Comics Meet Up Sun March 13 (11 am)

March 6, 2011

Growing up, there was a period of time where I was the only person at my school that read comic books.

As a kid, my mother used to drive me to get comic books* and outside of her, I think the first time I saw another woman in a comic book store was in college.

Jump cut to the past ten years and a number of factors (all for another blog post) have changed what was a solitary pursuit for many such as myself into an exploding community of new readers.

The fact that comic books are available in “remote” locations like Fry’s is astounding and what’s even cooler is that readers range from casual readers like my brother to more active readers like video game players who found Scott Pilgrim and started buying other books.

It’ seems like every Wednesday at Austin Books, I see more and more new readers. (and that’s awesome)

It’s also important to mention that in 30 years of reading comic books, we are in an age of some of the best work that’s ever been done and there are no signs of that quality decreasing.

In summary: It is a great time to be reading comic books.

Which is why it was so awesome that Christine at SXSW asked me to host a meet up for comics this Sunday.

Here are the details.  Please note that you must have an Interactive, Gold or Platinum badge to attend.

Comics Meet Up

As the SXSW Interactive Festival continues to grow, it often becomes harder to discover /network with the specific type of people you want to network with. Hence a full slate of daytime Meet Ups are scheduled for the 2011 event. These Meet Ups are definitely not a panel session — nor do they offer any kind of formal presentation or AV setup. On the contrary, these sessions are a room where many different conversations can (and will) go on at once. This timeslot is for registrants to network with other SXSW Interactive, Gold and Platinum registrants who are interested in Comics. Cash bar onsite. Comic book readers are encouraged to stop by this meet up to interact with other attendees and talk about their favorite books. New readers, as well as old, are welcome to attend. After all, comics are now cool.  Hollywood celebrity Megan Fox says she reads the Avengers (citation needed).

Time: Sunday March 13 at 11:00AM (DO NOT FORGET DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME!)

Venue: Driskill (Victorian Room) 604 Brazos Street

Link to the SXSW schedule page.

I want to encourage both old readers as well as new to come and attend.  Even if you’ve never read a comic book, come on by.

It’s an unstructured format and we’ll be having conversations about all sorts of comic books.  New.  Old.  Indie.  Super heroes.  Whatever you want to talk about.  I’ll even try to help match you to titles you might like.

BTW, also of note:  The Anime meetup is in the room down the hall.  So be prepared for a possible West Side Story -style rumble in the hallway.  😛

* and yes, my mother is a Saint for driving me around South Florida for comic books. No question!


What Is A SXSW Interactive Campus?

February 14, 2011

As someone who knows (and works with*) the organizers for SXSW Interactive, I can tell you that every conversation with them has the same theme: how do we make the conference better for attendees?

This year, one of the ways that they’re going to do this is through campuses.

It’s the evolution of something I noticed last year.  Many of the sessions I attended were around the Business track, and those sessions were mostly in the Hilton and as a result, much of my interaction (meeting new people, seeing old friends) was outside those rooms.

It was nice.  I spent more time talking to people, and less time pulling “West Wing” walk-and-talks, hurrying to the next session.

A lot fewer “ships passing in the night” moments and a lot more interaction.

A campus is a single location where similar programming is held and their goal is to create micro-events at these locations.

Below is a list of the campuses (here’s the full article) and something that they plan to do shortly is put these into the schedule as “themes” (something we at IBM do for our events, but we call them tracks – and it’s always a favorite thing for attendees).

Hope to see you at SXSW this year and keep an eye out for me (which will be easier this year since I’ll be centralized thanks to the campuses).

Friday, March 11 – Tuesday, March 15

Keynotes, Featured and Distinguished Speakers
Book Readings
Meet Ups
Branding / Marketing
Design / Development
Greater Good

Friday, March 11 – Tuesday, March 15

Meet Ups

Friday, March 11 – Tuesday, March 15
Work and Happiness

Friday, March 11 – Tuesday, March 15
Late Break

Friday, March 11 – Tuesday, March 15
The Social Graph

Friday, March 11 – Tuesday, March 15
The Future of Journalism
Saturday, March 12 – Tuesday, March 15

Friday, March 11
Saturday, March 12
Latin America
Sunday, March 13 – Monday, March 14
Monday, March 14
Tuesday, March 15
Special Programming

Saturday, March 12
Special Programming (TBD)
Sunday, March 13 – Monday, March 14
Social Broadcast Track
Special Programming (TBD)
Tuesday, March 15
Special Programming (TBD)

* full disclosure: I am a member of the SXSW Interactive Advisory Board.

SXSW Charts For Dangerous Curves By Rolf Skyberg

March 25, 2010

No bulls***, this was one of the best sessions I went to at SXSW Interactive (see my previous post).

Rolf Skyberg, platform product manager at eBay, delivered an amazing and intense presentation that, no joke, I think covered like 3 hours worth of material in 50 minutes.

While these charts do a great job of conveying the data in a stand-alone format, you kinda miss the intense energy presenter Rolf Skyberg delivered in the room.

These charts are great for anyone that looks at a lot of data and needs to understand how to create strategies around what they see, as well as react to their bosses.

This deck also has a nice bit about understanding who you are in a product/company lifecycle and getting the most out of your career.

Seriously, one one of the best sessions I went to at SXSW.  Enjoy.

Original blog post.

Defining Yourself- A SXSW Story

March 19, 2010

At this year’s SXSW conference, I had the pleasure of meeting two very enthusiastic, bright and extremely nice women while I was waiting to attend a session in the Hilton.

But I will admit that it was kind of awkward at first.

I saw their badges and said something like, “Oh, so you’re filmmakers.” and one of the women responded, “No, we’re students.

I was a bit confused and asked, “But you’ve made films, right?  You’re in film school and all.

The woman responded again and said, “Yes, I made a film, but it wasn’t very good.

So you’re a filmmaker!” I said, ecstatically but at the same time not to try to embarrass her but rather encourage her.

I then proceeded on a rant about how “good” and “filmmaker” are mutually exclusive.  You can be one.  Or the other.  Or both.  The example I used was: let’s say ******* *** (a Hollywood hack) and the super-talented Jason Reitman were both standing in the same room and someone yelled, “We have an emergeny.  Is there a filmmaker in the house?

Both Jason and the other person would go running.

The hack wouldn’t even pause a second and might even run over Jason! (who is clearly the better filmmaker)

The point I was trying to make to them was that you have to own what you do and the only way you can even take yourself seriously is by starting with that.

We then talked about films, title sequences and all sorts of other stuff and had a nice chat.

As I was leaving one of the women said to me that she was going to take my advice to heart which meant a lot to me, seeing as how I hope I can impart some level of wisdom to the next generation and not just fill their heads with random stories about the like.

I left her by telling her that I had heard Tony Hawk talk about how when he fills out an Immigration Form when he’s coming back into the US, under occupation he is always so happy to write, “Professional Skater.

Not “CEO.”  Not “entertainer.”  Not “athlete.”


I hope that helped them and I hope that soon, both of these women will be making amazing movies (or title sequences) and/or doing whatever it is they find their passion in and owning it.

Footnote: as good as my advice was, my friend Allyson had even better advice during an interesting conversation with a woman on her flight to SXSW.  The woman talked about wanting to be a professional blogger.  My friend Allyson suggested that she start by writing herself a check every week to blog.  To pay herself to blog. . That way she’s gonna have to work to earn her money and she’ll own it and be it.

My SXSW Experience: In Like A Modem, Out Like Fiber

March 18, 2010

SXSW Interactive is officially over.  It started as a slow burn modem connection and culminated into an urban Burning Man that was an explosion of geek.

Many have discussed their experiences at SXSW.  Some positive.  Some negative.

Mine SXSW experiences were overall positive.

Yes, I did have some negative experiences.  I had to yell at people behind me to shut up during a panel (2 separate times).  I got a product pitch while I was minding my own business in the lobby of the Hilton.  I moaned every time people asking questions either wouldn’t get to the question quick enough* or they plugged their lame website.  And some of the sessions I went to were duds.

But it’s a “numbers game” and overall I had an amazing time.

Why I Was There And How I “Took The Beach” (Strategic Planning Tips)

I’m in marketing and my focus was on marketing and business topics as it relates to the social web. I was less concerned with design or development topics since I don’t do that stuff and was even less interested in any consumer product topics since my company’s focus is on solutions for businesses.  Having focus on what I did and didn’t want to attend helped me significantly narrow down my focus on what to attend.

Like many, I used a combination of the panel picker website, app and printed pocket guide (love that thing) to figure out where to go and what to attend.  I have learned from past attendance that sessions sometimes become “pot luck” and having a backup is as important as having a primary; especially when they’re near each other.

That said, there were a number of things I missed that I’ll have to listen to on the podcasts or watch the sliderockets.

I drove to the Convention Center (since I am a local)and found that the earlier I got there, the better shape I was to park in the garage.

Also, as funny as it sounds, I packed a lunch. Long story as to why, but it actually helped me save time by not having to wait in long conference center lines for mediocre food.  The down side is that I did pass up a few opportunities to go with people (and socialize) for lunch.  But usually going to lunch means missing panels so it becomes, like everything, a trade off (I feel horrible I didn’t get to spend more time with Tiffany).

AT&T iPhone Service And SXSW Wifi

Zero complaints for either service.  Both the free SXSW wifi service and the AT&T infrastructure upgrades (GigaOm) worked well during my time in the Convention Center and in the Hilton.

Top Panel Picks

  • Bumpin’ Up: Has The Glass Ceiling Ever Smacked You In The Butt? – full disclosure, the moderator of this session is my friend Allyson Kapin (@WomenWhoTech).  That said, she led a great open discussion on how to get around issues of discrimination in the work place.  It wasn’t a gripe session, but rather extremely productive with a lot of tips on how women and men can overcome some of these real-life issues.
  • Blah Blah Blah: Why Words Won’t Work – part of my job is making PowerPoint charts and it was a revelation to see Dan Rohm is the missing link between my love of comics and my job in marketing.  I ordered his book that evening.  If any part of your job is communication, this is gonna open a new world to you.
  • GMail: Behind The Scenes – I mentioned on Twitter how amazing it was that Google admitted their faults when it came to the roll out of Buzz.  They talked about the problem, why it happened, and how they are going to correct it in the future.  That takes a lot of guts and they have my respect.  They also provided some interesting insights into product management and development and staying focused on the core value propositions for a product (for them, any feature that affects the speed of the app is denied).
  • Conducting Great Interviews – this is what SXSW calls a “core conversation.”  The room is smaller and participation from the audience is encouraged during the session (the rooms are setup as semicircles a la “Theatre In the Round“).  Speaker Nancy Baym is a college professor and I think she really nailed this format.  She came prepared with handouts (a one page cheat sheet on her topic) and instead of going through bullet points…which we could easily read in our hands during the session…she instead had a roadmap that she went point-by-point through.  She skipped the points that nobody was interested in, talked about the points we were and took questions and advice from the room as people raised their hands.  As someone who has to interview subject matter experts to extract information out of them, it is going to be very useful in my day-to-day.
  • Visual Note-Taking 101: Dave Gray, Austin Kleon, Mike Rohde and Sunni Brown RAWK!  They gave out little notebooks with cheat sheets and went a long way to “demystify” the process I saw Dan Rohm do in his session.  I’m hooked on this visual note-taking thing now and can’t wait to start using it at work.
  • Customer Care In A 140 Character World – Caroline McCarthy (CNet) had a nice balance of herself (press), Jeremiah Owyang (Analyst, Altimeter Group) and then representatives from Comcast, HP and Microsoft.  I honestly think this is the model that most sessions should try to follow.  You get Caroline moderating and Jeremiah providing “commentary” while the company representatives answer questions.  Great format.
  • Is Too Much Math Killing Marketing? – speaking of great models to follow, the same can be said about this session.  Moderator Joanna Burton had two panelists, each with different views on this topic.  She gave them 20 minutes to present their case and then left time for Q&A.  In addition, Joanna also mingled with the crowd prior to the session starting to get a gauge of where the audience was at and what we wanted to hear.
  • Dangerous Curves: Hockey Sticks, Swine Flu and More – holy crap!  Rolf Skyberg from eBay nailed this amazing session about statistical analysis and crammed like 10 hours worth of information into 60 minutes.  You will never look at graphs the same way again.  In addition, on the way out of the panel I had the fortune to meet the wonderfully awesome Micki Krimmel (@Mickipedia) and hear about her interesting new startup!
  • Bruce Sterling Presentation: inspiring, amazing and insanely relevant.  I kept looking at this one woman in my row and her mouth was open in awe throughout the presentation and she kinda represented the entire room.


I’m not really a social creature.  I don’t drink and have done enough trade shows in the past that I know that you need to pace yourself across the span of the show.

The parties I did go to were pretty neat.  I met some very nice people at a Women In Technology Happy Hour (Friday) and then also popped into the Web Awards pre-party (Sunday).  And that’s really about it.  I find that overall I could do a better job networking between sessions (see below, “Meeting People“).

Buzz Out Loud Meetup

I suppose, technically it’s a party…anyhow, I’m a huge fan of BOL and the meetups are always great to meet fellow fans and kinda geek out.  I met some amazing people (new and old) and then managed to find myself talking to Nicole, Molly, Tom and Jason.  They were all extremely nice and so gracious to their fans that I can’t say enough great things about Buzztown, the hosts or the fans (whatup, Joyce!).

Meeting People

Talking to your neighbor is one of the favorite pastimes of SXSW attendees.  You never know who you’re going to meet.  I met a handful of former and current colleagues as well as a bunch of people who know friends, etc. (and not just because of tech-related things).  My conversations with everyone I talked to were informative and interesting and we shared a bunch of great information.

If you have a problem, a lot of times your neighbor can help you solve it.  Vice versa, I found myself “dropping knowledge” (as the kids like to say) to strangers I just started talking to at random.

The whole point of talking to strangers at SXSW is to share information and learn from each other.  And I did that with so many people.  Shout outs to Micki (see above), Suzanne, Mike and Caris.

Oh, and totally by accident, I ran into one of my all-time favorite panel speakers, Ben Huh of  Ben was doing an interview for a podcast and I waited until he was done, shook his hand, told him I was a fan and was listening to him on Buzz Out Loud on my drive over to the convention center.  He was gracious, extremely nice and we talked for maybe 2 minutes and I was on my way and he was on his way.  It was the most ideal way to meet someone you’re a fan of.

Is SXSW A Product Catalog Shoot?

Walking around SXSW, you get the feeling that somewhere there are catalog shoots going on for Apple, Timbuk2, Canon and Converse.  Seriously.  Tons of product from those vendors being used/worn by SXSW attendees.

QR Codes AKA “I Have A Great Portfolio Of Crotch Shots”

The super-awesome Gina Trapani asked about the success rate of QR codes (see her excellent Fast Company blog on what they are and then she has a feed of responses).  Basically, you’re supposed to take a snapshot of this square pixelized barcode thingy that was on people’s badges and an app would translate it into the person’s business card information.

As I replied, I was unsuccessful in getting it working and all I managed to do was fill a portfolio of crotch shots :-/

That said, I have a solution.  If you’re a fan of vintage photography equipment, or the Cold War, then you know about the Minox camera.  These are the small cameras spies use to take pictures of documents in the movies (and maybe in real life).  Since the Minox is a fixed-focus lens camera (like most camera phones), one of the accessories was a chain so that you could accurately measure the required distance from a document to get the paper in focus and in frame.  I kind of think that someone should have handed out chains (or string) to help with the image capture.  Maybe next year…

Most Awkward Quote At SXSW

At the Buzz Out Loud meetup, a woman was trying to get past me and brushed by me and said, “I’m sorry.  My tech bumped into your tech.”  I suppose I should find that highly arousing, but all it made me want to do was take a shower…so maybe it did work?

Best Quote, Ever

In the session, “Eight Ways To Deal With Bastards,” one of the panelist (an HR Director) said, “Many things are illegal in the workplace, being an a-hole isn’t one of them.”

Also, in that same panel, Karen Walrond gave the best story about taking the high road.  And that’s the lesson I learned in that session and in Bruce Sterling’s talk; always, as painful as it might be, take the high road.

Volunteers Make SXSW Work

The reason why so many things run as smoothly as they do at SXSW is because of all the hard work and dedication from the countless volunteers who do such great work.  A thank you to all of them, and I will buy you a drink if I ever meet any of you in person.

The BackChannel For Sessions

FYI, much of the sessions can be found checking for hash tags on SessionTweet.Com (thanks, Steven).  Also, when I see of information on posting of materials, I’ll post it to my blog or Twitter.

So.  That’s what I got.  Hope people found it entertaining to read.  Another story to come shortly.

*it should be a requirement that anyone approaching a microphone to ask a question at a panel be required to listen to at least 500 hours of terrible talk radio and public access television to learn how not to ask a question.