Saturday, March 13, 2010

SxSW 2010 - Day 2

Strangely, I have no pictures from this day.


Ok, I lied. I found a picture from 3 days later of a poster/drawing made during the Boyd talk.


We F*cked Up

This was a humorous panel of Web Design consultants speaking at length about their worst screw-ups, and war stories. The thinking here was that others would learn from their mistakes.

During the talk and later Q&A, they encouraged members of the audience to also share their war stories. This raised the entertainment value of the panel immeasurably.

Directing the Dead: Genre Directors Spill their Guts

The first film panel that I attended. The guide listed the following directors as panelists:

  • Ti West
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Ruben Fleischer
  • Scott Weinberg
  • Matt Reeves
  • Robert Rodriguez
  • Neil Marshall

Unfortunately, QT was a no-show. I suspect that he had something special originally planned for the conference, but I guess that I will really never know.

Later in the evening while waiting outside of the Alamo Ritz, I did hear that the QT Fest may return this year. Hopefully, I can score a ticket if it does.

Sans QT, the panel was still very entertaining, with each panelist supplying personal anecdotes about their films.

Opening Remarks: Privacy and Publicity

Danah Boyd from Microsoft Research gave this talk. It seemed to me this presenter was another policy wonk type, with a subtly hidden agenda. Of course, google's recent faux pas with their Buzz launch was covered in great detail. Facebook's profile ACL change was also discussed.

Strangely, not a word was spoken about Microsoft Live or any of their Web 2.0 products. I'm assuming that we can all look to them for our salvation. Of course, it wouldn't surprise me at all to discover that Danah is working with the new Cyber Security Czar. With Microsoft and the government working arm in arm, we can all sleep better now.

Rosedale, Mar 16, 2010

CSS3 and Fonts

Another Typography session, it was also interesting. I must say however, that as this CSS3 functionality is standardized across multiple browsers, talks like this will cease to be engaging.

Like the other web design talks, there was ample opportunity to kick the dead horse of browsers, IE6.


Cold Weather

Unfortunately, my brother and I waited in line for about 40 minutes to discover that we wouldn't be seated. Apparently, for some screenings, particularly the premiers, the cast and crew soak up all of the available seats. We found out that this could have been avoided, if we both had obtained Xxpress passes.

SXXpress Passes

Although I had a Platinum Badge last year as well, I was totally unaware of the existence of the SXXpress passes. They were introduced with last year's Film Screenings, and have been expanded to include the Music Showcases.

Basically, each badge holder is entitled to 1 pass per day (or 2 per day if you hold a platinum badge). A small percentage of seats are reserved for all screenings and music showcases. Each pass is issued with the holders name, venue and day. They allow the holder to cut to the front of the line for an event.

I liked this system, but noticed that it was not well publicized. It is obviously a sign that SxSW is still growing.

BTW, here is my brief attendance estimate for SxSW. Interactive attendance was noticeably up, film was flat, and music was slightly down.

American Grindhouse

This was another very well produced documentary about the history of Grindhouse cinema. I would recommend this film to any of my friends, and have since put Tod Browning's Freaks in my Netflix queue.

Friday, March 12, 2010

SxSW 2010 - Day 1

My younger brother Sean joined me this year for SxSWi and SxSWf. This was his first trip to Austin. Since the panels started fairly late today and the weather was awesome, we walked around town for a while.

Downtown, Mar 12, 2010 Convention Center District, Mar 12, 2010


How Sci-Fi shaped the Internet

I expected more out of this talk than it delivered, and ended up bailing early. My brother went to one of the design related panels. I think that might have been a better choice to be honest.

Getting Stoked on Web Typography

This was a very interesting talk focusing on the new font features coming in with CSS3, and how it has been adopted on the more popular browsers. The talk was a success for two reasons:

  • The presenter was passionate about the subject
  • She had lots of actual examples in her presentation

There was also good information about how to use free and Creative Commons Fonts in your website design. All in all, this was one of the better talks I attended.

Pay TV vs. Internet, the battle for your TV

This was the most entertaining panel of the entire Conference. Marc Cuban (, the Dallas Mavericks, and now HDnet) squared off in a debate with Avner Ronen of Boxee. Cuban's main talking point was revenue, and the fact that none of the new Internet ventures had any.

During this panel however, I couldn't help but think about Chritensen's The Innovator's Dilemma. One thing that seemed to escape both speakers is why it is called the Internet. Neither speaker seemed to be able to visualize the possibility of mixing private and public backbones.

For now, Marc will continue to make money. Sometime in the future however, that will change.

Screenburn Lounge

Sean and I made a trip through the Screenburn Lounge. I noticed one interesting thing, the Austin Lego Club.

Austin Lego Club


Like several other people I have spoken to, I find the film portion of my platinum badge to be the most enjoyable. My brother and I made a point to try and see several every night.

Red Chapel

This was an excellent documentary about 3 Danish comedians who travel to North Korea, in order to perform a famous sketch involving a transvestite, as part of a cultural exchange. Although 2 of the 3 people were born in South Korea, neither actually spoke any Korean. In addition, one comedian had a speech impediment, making him incomprehensible to his handlers. This allowed him sufficient cover to comment in real-time, throughout the course of the film.

The real objective with this documentary was to be able to film in North Korea and expose the truth, without raising suspicions. Reality turned out being far stranger than anything that would appear in a South Park episode. One particularly stark and eerie scene showed the group traveling along the empty 5 lane boulevards of Pyongyang (a city of 3.2 million people), at noon.

American, the Bill Hicks Story

Seeing this film was the second home-run of the night. The film was a biographical documentary, of the Houston born comedian, Bill Hicks. No description that I could write could do this film justice. All I will say is that is a must see about a true comedic genius.


I forgot to mention that this was the premier of the film and that Richard Linklater was in the audience, as well as Bill's mother and older brother. Also present were two comics who worked along side of Bill at his home club in Houston. But most importantly, the co-directors of the film had an extensive Q&A sessions after the screening.