SXSW highlights

- My favorite panel was the one about robots scraping info from the web. I think I liked it because it seemed advanced and covered new ground I hadn’t seen before. While I may be biased, my second favorite panel was a Creative Commons-moderated one on film rights and copyright. Half the audience was from the SXSW film track, so it was great to see things from their perspective. I’d love to see SXSW do more to mix audiences and viewpoints.

- I hope the Fray Cafe audio was recorded and will be online soon. Lance was, as ever, absolutely marvelous.

- Everyone that met Jonathon Abrams, the creator of Friendster, used the word “ass” somewhere in the sentence used to describe him. I heard it several times during the week as I seemed to be missing him at various functions. When I finally saw his keynote and panel, he defintely lived up to the reputation. And it wasn’t even the amusing, self-effacing kind of asshole I can appreciate and enjoy. It was just plain asshole.

- A lot of people do a certain flavor of comedy where the shtick is their delusion of grandeur, but it almost always falls flat. Neal Pollack‘s version of it works for some reason, and sounds funnier than it reads. His “panel” had the most people leaving that I’ve ever seen in a SXSW talk, but his brand of dry, cynical comedy appealed to only about five people in the entire large keynote room (myself included), which were just about the only people left in the end. I love writers and comics that take chances like that.

- We decided to go bowling after a couple parties late Monday night, and I let it slip to my video game fiends friends that I owned my own DDR setup at home. Being that I’m a tall, uncoordinated dork worthy of laughter, we just HAD to play it when we noticed the arcade at the alley had one. So we all play a round of one versus the other and near the end, a couple of 17-18 year old kids are getting noticeably impatient waiting for us to finish. As we were leaving, we overheard the two guys say “I’ve never seen old people play before.” Our ages ranged from about 25 to about 32, but it was the best line ever.

- On the last night I went to the Bruce Sterling party, and after midnight or so we sauntered off to a local watering hole, stayed until closing, then went for a late night bite to eat at Katz’ (whoa, check out the new localized google results on that one). We left Katz’ sometime after 3, and after a long walk back to the hotel, it wasn’t until 4am on the dot that I got to sleep. Right before I nodded off, I realized my flight was at 7:45, and I’d have to leave the hotel by 6 at the latest to make it through everything on time. That meant a 90 minute nap, at a cost of about $180 for that night in the hotel. It wasn’t the best $2 per minute of sleep. Maybe next time I’ll just sleep in the airport.