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Things to Remember about South By Southwest .:. kentbrewster.com

Back from SxSW last night; had a busy evening and a busy day today, so I'm just now getting to the yearly Notes To Self. Here we go:

  • Before you leave, ascertain the location of Break Bread With Brad. Seems it's not always at the Ginger Man....
  • Even if you're there at the behest of your employer, get some Moo Cards, for your personal contacts.
  • Open up your program bag and actually look at it, instead of just dumping it on the bed and forgetting about it. I mean, duh!
  • Hit the trade show early, gather schwag, and find out who's throwing parties.
  • While you're in there, subscribe (or re-subscribe) to GOOD and MAKE.
  • Make new friends. Share tables and cabs with anybody who has an attendee's badge around his or her neck.
  • At least once: breakfast at Halcyon, lunch at Las Manitas, snackies at Saba Blue Water Cafe, and dinner at Stubb's.
  • In fact ... next time, try to do the entire trip without once eating at a hotel or a franchised restaurant. Sure, there's a TGIFriday's ... but-- jesus, man, you're in Austin! Branch out!
  • In addition to caffeine, drink water. Lots and lots of water.
  • If you're planning on telling a story at Fray Cafe, get there early and sign up for the first set.
  • In addition to socks and underwear, bring double the number of T-shirts you think you could possibly need.
  • It's possible to get there with carry-on luggage, but you're going to have at least fifteen pounds of paper in it on the way back. And your friends are all going to check theirs, and you're going to head right on down to baggage claim to wait with them, so just give in. (Karmic bonus: you will be increasing the available carry-on space on the plane by just that much.)
  • Don't miss Dorkbot again.
  • Also bring at least one extra pair of long pants and a tiny folding umbrella. It might rain, and you might get caught in it.
  • If you ever wind up walking across the Bat Bridge when it's wet, stay to the upstream side. Water accumulates on the downstream side, and fun-loving locals will swerve just enough to put a wheel into the gutter and soak you. Repeatedly. And then you really won't want to go out again that night.
  • Oh, and do check out the Bat Bridge at dusk, some night when it's dry. Bats are neat--you can hear the little buggers cheeping and chittering away, and then they all come spraying out like lint from a dryer vent right after the sun goes down.
  • Get there early for Bruce Sterling's Closing Rant; it's the highlight of the week.
  • The extended-use laptop battery and noise-reduction headphones were crucial sanity savers on the airplane.
  • The Hyatt Regency is a very nice hotel; this trip, somebody was leaking free wireless on the east side.

The list from 2006, from before I moved over to kentbrewster.com:

  • Get that hotel reservation in early. You're not going to dig the walk to the Doubletree.
  • Bring a jacket, but also bring double the amount of socks and underwear you think you could possibly need.
  • Lean heavily on your hotel's free shuttle service, if you're out of the neighborhood. Austin has some surprisingly tiring hills, especially when it's 3am.
  • Talk to your taxi driver. He knows everything.
  • Eat! Especially before heading out to the first of three parties; if there's no food you're going to be really, really unhappy the next morning.
  • Tip your waiter, tip your driver, tip your houscleaning staff, tip your bartender, tip the piano guy upstairs at the Ivory Cat whose solo rendition of "Sweet Home Alabama" will just knock your socks off.
  • Talk to Hugh earlier next year, and maybe get on some panels.
  • If you're only bringing one carry-on item on the plane, and some bonehead with a steamer trunk, three shopping bags, and a cat carrier complains when you put it in the overhead, tell him exactly where to shove it. Jesus, but flying is getting awful.

The list from 2005, much of which still applies:

  • Bag the Hilton. There's no free wireless, and they charge a "day membership" for the pool.
  • Before making airline reservations, check the schedule carefully and make sure you're not showing up late or leaving a day early.
  • Get there the first night and Break Bread with Brad.
  • You'll be spending lots of time outside at night, and inside some heavily air-conditioned buildings. No matter how hot you think Texas is, bring a fricking jacket!
  • Also bring a power strip with a nice long extension cord. Outlets in those panel rooms are few and far between; you will Make New Friends.
  • Stick a little orange smiley-face on your badge and remember that it means you're open, approachable, and willing to talk.
  • Try to listen as much as you talk. Try hard.
  • When heading out for meals in a mob, grab somebody you've never met and bring them along. Again, you will Make New Friends.
  • When gathering up that meal-mob, remember that every person you pick up will double the chance that you will be late for your reservation. (Yes, you will need reservations; you are bring a party of thirteen, after all.)
  • Tip your waitstaff nicely, and remember: separate checks are right out.
  • The bar scene is highly overrated, especially when SXSW coincides with Spring Break.
  • Take some time out and visit the Halcyon coffee shop.
  • Don't forget: you need to bring your own beer to the Salt Lick.
  • When somebody asks you if you want a Nuclear Taco, you say "no." (Actually a better response would be "Hell, no!")
  • Remember the six-two-one rule. During any given arbitrary 24-hour period at SXSW, be sure to:
    • Sleep six hours.
    • Eat twice.
    • Bathe once.
  • Thank at least three volunteers for helping to put the thing on. Just go on up and say "thanks." They really like that.
  • And remember: what happens in Austin ... stays on Flickr.

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