SXSW Day 1 | March 12, 2005

Or maybe this should be day zero as today was registration day and the festival proper doesn’t start till tomorrow. Despite being knackered, I work up at 6am on the dot and couldn’t get back to sleep. Coming down for breakfast I sat outside in the morning heat and wrote up the previous days adventures. Once the others were up and suitiblty fed and watered, we went for a morning stroll around downtown Austin and then down to the lake.

Austin seems like a very cool and friendly place. However despite being twice the size of Brighton, the downtown area feels extremely quiet. Walking around town, there was hardly anybody around. There were bars and restaurants aplenty but I couldn’t quite figure out where people bought stuff. In Brighton there is a shop on every street corner and I was expecting 6th street to be full of shops as well as bars. However apart from the odd drug store and tattoo parlor, the shopping opportunities were conspicuous in their absence.

The lake area was nice and peaceful. People were rowing on the lake, riding their bikes and jogging. After strolling around for a couple of hours we headed off to a coffee shop by the convention center to meet up with Dunstan. Dunstan was having coffe with Molly Holzschlag and Tantek Çelik amongst other people and this was our first of many introductions of the day.

After tea and a chat our enlarged party headed off to register. Getting into the convention centre and seeing everybody milling around suddenly bought home the fact that I was going to be speaking in front of some of these people the following day. Blimey!

Jon Hicks and Andy Clarke finally showed up after having various travel dramas, and our steadily increasing party headed off to grab some lunch. Tantek lead us to a local Mexican restaurant, although at one point I wondered where the hell we were going as we were walking right through the kitchen. The food was good and we spent the majority of lunch teaching our American hosts British slang and trying to explain our compulsion for not making a fuss.

Back to the convention center we met a bunch more people and then checked out where we would be speaking the following day. After more coffee and chatting we decided to head back to the hotel to test our talk out on Rich, Andy and Jon who probably wouldn’t be making it to the real thing.

With that out of the way it was time to grab some food. Along with Ethan, we hit 4th street and ended up in a micro brewery and restaurant called The Bitter End. After much eating and drinking it was time to do some socializing, so Jeremy suggested going to Break bread with Brad which is apparently the tradition pre SXSW.

The place was packed and everywhere I looked there were well known web celebrities. We were joined by two more Brit Packers, Ian Lloyd and Simon Willison almost completing the scheduled British invasion. I chatted to lots of cool people although I’m gonna avoid the temptation to name drop as it could get very tedious very quickly. I successfully managed to talk myself horse, something I’m really going to regret in my talk the following day. Despite my good intentions, we ended up leaving pretty late and didn’t crash till gone 2am. So that’s me gonna be well prepared for my first SXSW talk!

Posted at March 12, 2005 2:24 PM


Colly said on March 12, 2005 3:06 PM

Oooh, the seething jealousy. It’s bloody cold back in the UK, although I am entertaining myself with live FA Cup action.

Have fun you lot - keep the flag flying, and don’t let us down when it comes to the drinking. I’ve heard tales of us Brits going on about how we can drink much more than the Yanks, only to end up under the table and subject to intense ridicule.

Can’t comment everywhere, so “Hello”s to Clarke, Hicks, Griff, JK, Rich and the others, and good luck with the talk.

Brent O'Connor said on March 12, 2005 6:38 PM

I wish I was having that much fun her. I haven’t met up with anyone yet. sigh

Joshua said on March 12, 2005 11:16 PM

for shops and whatnot, you can hit congress and head south across the river. there’s all sorts of little strange shops there. good restaurants too.

Ben said on March 13, 2005 4:48 PM

Great commentary on SXSW, keep it up! The blog world is a little quiet at the moment as every is in Austin, so its nice to have your commentary.

It seems like everyone who is anyone is there..

Good luck with the speech!

Greg said on March 13, 2005 9:50 PM

The thing is…few people go shopping in downtown Austin unless they’re looking for something they can say is very “Austin”. In that case, you should certainly head to South Congress or West 6th or down Lamar.

Austin is very spread out. I believe it’s somewhere around 200 square miles, which makes it about 160 square miles larger than say, Boston. Anyone that travels here for SXSW or other festivals, and doesn’t venture beyond the Central part of town, has really only seen a small part of the city. Central Austin is the smallest of Austin’s geographical regions. Most of the shopping is North or South, and miles away.

Texas cities have the room to spread out, not up, so they do.