Tag Archives: sxsw

Whatever happened to that trip you were taking?

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated and my apologies for that. I’m at a bit of a crossroads for Subism.com. I greatly want to revamp the site to add a store, but I also want to integrate a responsive web design layout. Unfortunately,  things require learning a lot and I’ve been pre-occupied.

As you may recall, or if you scroll down approximately two entries, late last year I was working on a social media travel experiment. The gist of it was that I was backpacking through Europe via train. Along the way I was taking people’s suggestions and recommendations via social media or where to go, what to do with the intention of reporting it here and sharing the total findings at this year’s SXSW interactive festival.

For a while I was posting daily, then it crept down to posting once per city and then finally I found out that the SXSW panel had been rejected. While that took a lot of the wind out of my sails I intended to keep going regardless. I kept collecting data and working on it daily just the same. I have a Moleskine notebook filled with notes, a ton of “starred” Tweets and gigabytes of photos to share. However, the issue that remains is what to do with it all. Without the panel as a destination, how the data would be presented requires a dramatic rethinking. I will compile it with conclusions at some point but right now, I’m unsure exactly what that will look like.

Aside from the SXSW rejection my trip was suddenly cut short. This was due to a variety of personal reasons including a death in my family. Despite my abrupt return to the states, I had still planned to head back out towards Asia and Oceania. However after a little while it became clear that it simply wasn’t the right time for me to do so.

All that said, I’ve been busy since my return. I’, working on a few different projects that I will hope to share sometime soon. I’ve also been spending a lot more time over on my Tumblr.

One of the things I will elaborate on very soon is something I’m calling The Impossible Year. Feel free to check it out ahead of time if you wish.

Cheers!

PS – The book is still on sale!

Grid Meets Road – World Travel in the Digital Age

On the 19th of September I will embark on an adventure that will almost certainly change my life. I am heading overseas to Europe to travel full time until February of next year.

Along my way I will use digital devices and social media tools to explore and find what to do in each respective city. I will document my experience on this blog, Flickr, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, FourSquare, GowallaTumblr & and maybe even YouTube. I will attempt to find places to say either with friends from these services or using sites like CouchSurfing and AirBnB.

The idea is to “crowd source” my adventure, asking for you, the reader, to supply me with input as to where to go, what to see etc.

My end goal will be not just to explore the world but to really test the limits of our global communications network, the so-called “global community”. Can we, “the internet”, actually supply what one person needs to know on such an adventure? How connected are we really through these services and how easy (or hard) is it to maintain the relationships with your loved ones while traveling full time?

I have also submit a panel to next year’s SXSW Interactive Festival and hope to be able to share the results of my trip with you there as well as eventually publish a book on the experience.

I will share more details about the trip as we get closer to leaving but for now I could use your help.

Please do me a favor and vote for my panel to be accepted to SXSW… the voting period ends tonight Friday the 2nd at midnight. You can do that here.

And if you’re so interested you can donate to my experiment as well here.

Anyone who donates me any money (doesn’t matter how much or little) will have their name on a slide at our SXSW presentation should it be accepted. Thanks!

Aerodynamic Efficiency in Paper Airplane Design or Thoughts on SXSW Interactive

This year marked my second visit to Austin, Texas for the South By Southwest Interactive conference. While I very much enjoyed myself and having only attended in ’09 I can tell you that things have changed, perhaps not for the better.

Two years ago I attended presentations almost every hour, nearly all were in the Convention Center, they were all higher quality and it was relatively easy to navigate which I wanted to go to.

This year there was too much. You would scroll through long listings picking out sessions and then realize all of that was just the 2 pm hour. Also, a large number of sessions were offsite in hotel conference rooms. It’s bad enough that to walk from one end of the conference center takes about 10-15 minutes, some of the sessions I wanted to go to were as far as a mile away from the convention center.

To make matters worse, a multitude of the sessions were redundant panels with poorly prepared presenters, the bulk of which were still fixating of the importance of “social media” and other buzz words. The kind of stuff you would already have to be aware of if you’re attending SXSW in the first place. Utter wastes of time. By the end of day one I had pretty much given up on panels to spend time with my friends and meet new people.

The idea of having a conference for “interactive” is beginning to feel short sighted. It’s grown so large and out of control it’s simply untenable. Marketers, designers, programmers and content creators are coming together under the banner of “interactive” while many of these people have little in common. With the common thread of the internet becoming so ubiquitous in American life it seems absurd to blanket everything under one banner.

Imagine if we held a conference for all the industries who use paper in any way shape or form, there would be panels on restaurant menu design, proper cardboard box construction and buzz-worded up bullshit like “aerodynamic efficiency in paper airplane design”. Still many of those things would have about as much in common as the sessions at SXSWi.

At the same time, the split between the Film and Interactive portions of the conference seems more and more arbitrary as the line between amateur and professional continues to blur.

The focus this year for me was less on the panels and more about the partying, networking and actual human interaction. This is perhaps evidenced best by the multitude of panels discussing how to best party at SXSW. I can’t be the only one who thinks this is a bad thing. It seems the label of “Interactive” has taken on a new meaning and it seems to be less about the technology and more about social interaction. The thing is though, if that’s the case, why even buy a badge when I can party for free anyway and get about the same?

A Prologue?

Every adventure has a beginning. Some start slow and build into the excitement. Others kick right into action within the first few moments. Either way there is still a setup, some pretext that the story is founded on. My training from iO and Second City has taught me that it’s better to start a scene in the middle and to dispense with the back story things tend to be more interesting that way as we can watch the story unfold in front of us.

At this very moment my heart is starting to slow down from a rapid pace. My brain and endocrine system are finally starting to relax from the rush of adrenaline that pumped through me earlier. I’m just happy to be here in my aisle seat electric chair typing away and listening to my favorite Mountain Goats record.

I’m heading to Austin for South by Southwest Interactive where, for the next week, I will indulge in copious amounts of learning, networking and imbibing. When I return from Austin I will only have 8 more days of work at my job of the past 6.5 years. There is a mixture of excitement and discomfort in the fact I am willfully joining the ranks of the unemployed during a recession.

My heart rate continues to slow as I sip my complementary apple juice and snack on my peanuts. I just took a minute to revised the first paragraph. “Lovecraft in Brooklyn” just came on. I love this song, I don’t really even know why, I just do.

I could tell the story about nearly missing my flight this morning, being told they were booked through the weekend and how someone I’ve never met volunteered to give up her seat making her my personal, yet thankless hero. But aside from me running unshod through Midway airport, the story really doesn’t have that much anecdotal value.

I’m looking forward to the next few days in Texas, catching up with old friends, making new ones and eating amazing food. That said, I am not quite sure what to expect. I did this once before and it was extremely enriching, even life changing, will it be again?

We’ve landed in Nashville to refuel and swap passengers before continuing on to Austin. No more Mountain Goats, moved on to Gaslight Anthem now. Stop, revise. I am fully relaxed now. Another revision.

I’ll be back in Nashville a month from yesterday if only for a day. It feels like an eternity away.

The problem with the aforementioned storytelling lesson is that it’s one of the few things from improvisation that can’t be mapped directly to life. We don’t get to just cut to the action, we’re forced to endure each beginning as even the smallest detail can be a catalyst that ripples through all of what follows. In life it’s the transitions that shape everything. The blur before something ends and another begins is arguably the most interesting moment, anything could happen that will affect the future and how we perceive of the past.

I ponder my own situation as I rewrite, revise and delete. I’m mildly frustrated that this, like many pieces I write, may sit in “drafts” forever awaiting a perfection that may never come. I switch the music again to Streetlight Manifesto to get a lyric trapped in my head out.

“We’ve all been there once before and it looks like we’ve returned once more. So is this the beginning or the end?”

I don’t know what will happen, I just know we’re landing and it’s almost time to close my MacBook.

Leveling Up and Leveling Out

Nintendo Cartridges.

2009 has been a heck of a year. While it’s really been a year of serious ups and downs for me, it’s also been a year of growth and learning. I’ve made some mistakes, but I’ve also made some awesome friends and I’ve grown as a person in ways I never would have imagined. This year I took some life changing trips to Berlin, Paris and St. Louis that taught me how to explore and be more independent. When I moved to Chicago three years ago it was precisely for this reason. I wanted to force myself to break out of my shell and stand completely on my own. It took me almost three years but I think I finally really accomplished that goal.

Last weekend I finished my Level 1 improv class at iO Chicago (formerly Improv Olympic) and I have to say it was one of the most liberating feelings I’ve experienced in a while. In the short amount of time it took to take the class I discovered sides of myself that I had never even imagined. Improv has forced me to change the way I think and has become something I look forward to every week. On top of that, I met some great people in class I’m happy to call friends. It’s no surprise that I’ve signed up for level 2 and I’m excited already. Improv has been an outlet for me during the most stressful time of year.

Now a few random notes:

My blog with ChicagoNow has been pushed back to Q1 of 2010. More info as I get it.

Long Pork has received it’s dates and times for San Francisco Sketchfest with two shows!

The first: January 29, 8pm at the Eureaka Theater and we’ll be opening for Theme Park Improv featuring Rachel Dratch, Edie McClurg, Danny Pudi, Jessica Makinson, Janet Varney and Cole Stratton.

Second: Jan 30th, 10:30pm at The Dark Room Theater with Marvin Berry and We Are Nudes.

Needless to say, we’re pretty excited.

That’s really all for now, but things are looking good. 2010 has a lot of good things coming, more traveling, SXSWi again and the restarting of TheChicagoGuys.com and more. The future may be unwritten, but the rough draft sounds pretty good.