Hicks

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SXSW 2006

Everyone says SXSW is about the people, and they’re right. Thats my reason for going. Sure, the panels are great, and I got a lot out of them this year (especially “Traditional Design and Technology” and “Your own Design playground”).

The trouble is that this year, there were more people, more parties, and therefore more fragmentation. I had a great time (I knew I would), but more so than last year, I came away with the feeling that there were more people I missed out on meeting (Paul Nixon to name but one). There were those that I did meet, but all too briefly (Dustin Diaz to name but one). The parties were great, but not exactly easy to talk at, and often a particular person you wanted to meet was at one of the other 3 parties going on at the same time.

Did anyone else feel this?

I’m not sure what the answer is. Someone did suggest to me a “Break cheese with Hicks” session early evening, where we could easily talk and eat cheese, and I like that idea a lot…

Th@t w@s @media

(Are you finding the use of in posts about media annoying yet?!) Sorry to be late with this post, but this is the first chance I’ve had to write up something about the UK’s first web standards and accessibility conference.

I travelled down early on the Thursday morning with Denis (designer of the @media branding), and the first thing that struck me was how slick the operation was. Patrick had done a stellar job in organising all of this – I’d expected the first conference to be ‘testing the waters’ with a basic venue, but that wasn’t that case. It was a swish location in London’s south bank, with the 2 days being very slickly organised.

The presentations were excellent, and in particular Jeremy Keith’s ‘Using Javascript for Good (not Evil)’ floated my boat. Joe Clarke was as engaging and entertaining as ever, and it was a thrill to see Zeldman speak in London. Was everyone else as amazed as I was at Malarkey’s transformation from Mod to sharp dressed man?

If I had one complaint, it would be that there wasn’t enough time to talk. Breaks and lunches were carried out a breakneck speed (although maybe this helped to disprove the myth of Brits always taking breaks for tea?). The party on the Thursday needed to be in a large beer garden with food served, so that we could mingle and talk easier. Then again, I come from the shires, where every pub has a garden, and these big cities just ain’t got room for such niceties.

Sadly I had to leave fairly early on the Friday evening, and didn’t manage to find everyone I’d met to say goodbye. I met a lot of great people, but I won’t attempt a list, for fear of missing someone out. However, I would just like to say how great it was to finally meet Roger Johansson, Pete Lambert and Veerle Pieters (You see the problem? There was also Patrick Lauke, Mark Boulton…). We’re all a nice bunch aren’t we? Unfortunately, my photos were generally really poor, and my flickr set isn’t up to much.

Now then Malarkey, what’s all this about my ropey old socks appearing on ebay ?

SXSW: People

So finally, the most important aspect of SXSW, and my reason for going: the people. There was so much talk about how good the social side was last year, that I had to come.

I was looking forward to meeting, (although some only very briefly) Jason Santa Maria, Shaun Inman, Jeffrey Zeldman, Dave Shea, Doug Bowman, Ethan Marcotte, Dan Cederholm, Molly, Tantek Celik, Mike Davidson, John Allsopp, Maxine Sherrin, Jeremy Flint, Eric Meyer, Joe Clark, Josh and Rachel Williams, Khoi Vinh, Neil Lee, Andrei Herasimchuk (Elvis is not dead), Eris Free, Simon Willison. I really missed out on meeting Jeffrey Veen and Keith Robinson, and only got the briefest of chats with Cameron Moll and Ryan Sims.

I was very keen to meet Doug Bowman, as it was Stopdesign that turned me onto using web standards in the first place. I expected to be blurting out some sort of squeaky stammering “I …t..hink you’re grrrreat Mr Bowman” but instead I started by joining in with John Allsopp in slagging off american beer. I think it worked.

SXSW wasn’t just about meeting people I knew already from email and blogs. There were many lovely people whose unexpected company was a real bonus. I’m talking about Glenda “Good witch” Sims, Rob Weychert (the ‘brains’ behind Virtual Stan), Derek Featherstone, James Craig, Cindy Lee, Elsa Kawai, Omar (our hotel receptionist who took Malarkey and I for a tour around Austin and the surrounds) and our new group mascot Craig Cook.

In the whole conference, There was only one person I met that I didn’t like. But it turns out he wasn’t actually attending SXSW, and I think I’ll leave it at that.

Finally, a big thankyou to Leigh, who was insistent from the start that I should go and fun, despite it meaning her being left to look after the kids.

The rest is all on Flickr

Geekend2

As already explained by Jeremy, the weekend just past was the second of our “Geekends’ where UK bloggers get together to talk web standards and encourage Dunstan to become a spy. Thanks to Andy Budd for taking on the organisation.

Here we all are at Krakatoa, eating Thai food and discussing what special weapons the Dreamweaver Task Force get. Click the image for a larger version with (image-map free!) rollovers showing who’s there and where their blog is.

the group

It was a blast, and over too soon. Thanks everyone.

orchard time

I’m just back from the Geekend at Dunstans with fellow UK bloggers Andy, Jeremy, Stuart and Richard. My head is full of memories of wild boar sausages, eggs fresh from the hens bottom, poppy, ancient hill phallic paintings, and new friends.


As always, words are unnecessary when there are images like these. Thanks to everyone for a memorable weekend.

Anyway, I’m still operating on Orchard time, so I reckon I’ll go into the garden for some night photography with torches at midnight, bed at 4am and get up for a cooked breakfast at 12pm. That’s the life…