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Other people have expressed surprise that I had never been to SxSW before (last year I had the chance to go to India so went there instead) and it was with some trepidation that I went to bring the good news about Opera, HTML5 and give the Texas ladies the chance of some hot lovin'.
I very much liked Austin - or "Steve" as I like to call it - and it's become my new favourite American city; I used to like San Francisco but against Steve, it feels a bit like Brighton - too self-consciously cool to be relaxing.
I didn't see many talks as I had to be a boothbunny, but (to be brutally honest) I wasn't terribly impressed with those I did make it to. The panel format seemed a bit like paying to watch at a circlejerk, with everyone agreeing and congratulating each other, although I was impressed with some. The parties were not my thing either; I'm decades past queuing for an hour for a chance to shout at people you want to talk to (bah humbug get off my lawn). The free drinks in the lobby of my hotel every evening was far more conducive to chatting, sharing a laptop and doing the things I like to do with interesting people.
Fortunately, the "interactive workshop" I presented (which was actually a traditional presentation; there's no workshop potential with 400+ people in a room) was on Sunday so I had a couple of days to relax afterwards. (Slides are available for your downloading pleasure). It was a full house, with some great feedback ("Bruce Lawson is like an open-source Steve Jobs") - thanks all! Special thanks to Martin Kliehm for inviting me to take part in the 3 hour extravaganza he curated.
One of the highlights was talking to real customers on the booth. Many challenged our "fastest browser" claim, and went away pleasantly surprised when they found their own sites rendering so speedily. It was also great to blow the "Opera has a bad UI" bullshit out of the water.
The other highlight was meeting so many people that I know on the Web, but rarely meet in real life—people like the unrepentant hardliner, John Foliot, baby-eating Matt May and lovely people who I'd never actually met before, like Allan Kent (on-line friend since 2003), Jared Smith of WebAim and the best-dressed lady in Web, Nimbupani.
That nice Dan Oliver from .net magazine did an interview with me:
I got to eat a burger (Whataburger!) for breakfast, hang in the Media Temple VIP room, wear a Mexican wrestling mask and a glittery camisole. There are a few photos, fewer memories and, apart from liver made of paté and terminal jetlag, I survived my first South By SouthWest.