SxSW 2011 .:.

As always, I'm a couple of days behind on e-mail, so I was delighted to see a note from the folks at SlideShare, telling me that "Mistakes I Made Building Netflix for the iPhone" (embedded below) was "being tweeted more than anything else on SlideShare right now." Thanks for your interest, everyone; here are some random notes about the presentation, the process that led to it, and how SxSW went this year.

SxSW 2011

I had a fine time at SxSW; most of what I had to report echoes what's already been said by people like Leonard Lin and in Things To Remember About SxSW, which I haven't updated in about three years. It was huge, packed, and fun for several unexpected reasons.

  • This was the year SxSW went Seriously Corporate, and that turned out not to be such a bad thing. Pepsi, Dodge, and CNN had huge presences, and were welcome relief from crowds and craziness. AOL has been coming to Austin for years; I find myself feeling prouder and prouder of what they've accomplished every time.
  • 2011 was also the Year of the Food Truck; I sat down in exactly one restaurant during the entire week--Blue Ribbon Barbecue, which is new, and excellent--and found myself going back for the brisket twice more. Halcyon is still there, and still my favorite oasis of calm when I need to get a bit of coding done.
  • Sadly, this was also the Year of the Many Confusing Lines and Poorly-Executed Crowd Control. You needed the exact right combination of badge color, armband color, and RSVP/VIP status to stand a chance of getting into anything interesting; the closing act for Interactive--a band whose name rhymed with "Boo Biters"--turned away thousands, including me.
  • As always, I made new friends and strengthened old ties; seven years in I'm starting to feel like I know where to go and what to do. Special thanks to the British and Canadian mafias, who guided me well when it came time to choose a not-so-crowded destination or two.

20x2 (Twenty Speakers, One Question, Two Minutes Each)

I was in fine company once again at 20x2. Some highlights: Ben Ward, Ryan Gantz, Neiliyo, and the incomparable Southpaw Jones. The Question of the Year was "Why Did You Do It," so I answered the one everyone had been asking me since October:

At the show I dedicated it to my friend Havi Hoffman, who was in the audience, and knows why. :)

Solo Presentation: Mistakes I Made Building Netflix for the iPhone

At the time I proposed this panel, Netflix for the iPhone had not yet released. By the time it went live, I'd already left the company. So I was very, very nervous walking in. Fortunately I had a great crowd, nice folks in the Green Room, and--after I loosened up a bit--it seemed to go well.

I've never put a SxSW presentation online; they tend to get rewritten the night before, and this one was no exception. Enough people asked for it, however, so I put the slides up on Slideshare.

The demo you should look at during the slide that says "awesome demo here" is at, and the code (which, I must reiterate, was literally written the night before the presentation) may be forked at

Here's the audio, which I hope I'm doing right:

If this is broken, you should be able to get the MP3 straight from the podcast page. Please let me know if it's blown, so I can try to figure out a permanent solution.

Around 5:25--which is really hard to find using the SxSW interface, sorry about that--you'll hear me talking about the Blue Screen of Death we're showing people at Vurve; it is explained in detail on the Vurve blog, and I would love to see more of them out there.

Important Notes

  • No, I am not looking for work building iPhone apps. However:
  • Yes, I'd be happy to talk to you or your company--and maybe even deliver this presentation, if that turns out to be the right thing to do--about JavaScript widgets, opening APIs, the differences between prototyping and production, and building HTML-powered mobile applications. For best results, please use my contact form. LinkedIn and Facebook are not great for me; I look at them maybe once every couple of weeks, and e-mail even less.
  • I'm not sure how well it came across in the presentation, but I do not want to come off looking like I'm claiming credit for Netflix for iPhone. Everybody at Netflix--down to the shipping guy and the HR department, which is legendary--build Netflix for the iPhone, and I was fortunate enough to be the person who got to put the frosting on the cake and light the candles.

Same Time Next Year?

Oh, hell yes. Going to try for Film; probably not going to try for Music, which looks like a complete zoo.

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