What the crap is your problem. this weather is not normal. it is making everyone sick. please bring back the seasons we’re used to…we liked them quite a bit. Thanks so much.
Hi, I’m Alex.
I build communities, started one of the longest running coworking communities in the world, write a crapload of words every day, tweet a little too much, coach people to be the best version of themselves possible, can't stop learning new things, and do my very best not to take myself too seriously.
I have one goal: to fill the world with truly excellent collaborators so we can all work together, better.
Because let's be honest...most of us aren't very good at it.
These are my most popular and most valuable pieces, to help you get started.
With many thanks to Geoff and Alex at P’unk Ave, our first Junto was a success. Though small, we had a lot of fun, interesting discussion. Some review of my experiences at SXSW, some talk about the progression of events leading up to coworking, the obligatory discussion about twitter, some chatting about the history of the neighborhood and our city…all kids of cool stuff.
There will be more to come, keep an eye on this blog for the next one! Oh, and don’t forget about CreativeCamp on March 31st!
I’m not going to blog about what i did at SXSWi07. There’s plenty of other people doing that. What I am going to do is give you a couple of simple tips for how to make it through the week and get the most out of it.
First off, before you even leave, you have to pack. I posted a list that i came up with before hand, but some other things that I discovered would have been handy:
Once you’re there, attend any n00b panel they might be providing. Find out who’s there as a veteran that is expecting you to ask questions about what to do. And then…ask questions.
Don’t overplan your itinerary. In fact, try not to plan it at all. You arent going to make everything anyway, so you are better off finding interesting people and following them to panels, and then engaging in discussion afterwards. you wont learn much in panels, anyway…its all about the conversations that they start for you.
On the same vein, dont take pictures if this is your first time. I saw lots of people stuck behind a camera the entire time and therefore, IMO, missing out on the REAL benefit…the actual interactions. Besides…there were something like 60,000 photos uploaded to flickr in the course of 5 days…if you spend some time searching, youre GOING to find yourself, and the places you were…odds are, these people take better photos than you anyway 🙂
talk to everyone. everyone. random weird dude on the couch (at a geek conference, there’s a lot of those) might be a developer for your favorite web app. See one of your internet heroes across the room? go introduce yourself. don’t be creepy, just say hi, and start asking them questions or telling them how they have affected you. remember, they are people too. they have ideas, passions, and they like sharing and knowing they make a difference.
DONT do what I did, have a brief lapse in judgement, and say something like, “i know more about you than you know about me” to jeremy keith. its weird, uncomfortable, and not as flattering as it sounds in your head.
DO have meaningful conversations. I got to explain my mission to rejuvenate Philadelphia’s interactive community with people who really care. I got to find out what they had done in their local communities. I got to brainstorm ridiculous ideas, and great ideas.
Ask your mentor out for dinner/drinks. Again, don’t be creepy…but something like “i know you’re busy but i really think this conversation should be kept going. what are you doing for dinner?”. If you do it as a group of a few people, it can help cut some of the discomfort of being in a booth at a restaurant with Ryan Carson and a few of the coolest guys on the dev team at Weblogs Inc.
For the love of god, bring LOTS of business cards. I burned through a run of 250 without trying. You should leave with the same amount of business cards as you came with…since its a trading action you should be striving for. And, as I intend to spend the next couple of days doing, keep in touch with those people. Drop them an email, thank them for talking with you/drinking with you/dancing with you/carrying you home from the bar. These are your peers. You should know them, and stay in touch with them. Utilize tools like Conferenceer and Flickr (and the internet in general) to help you match faces to names as you recall who each card belongs to. If I can find some time, i’ll be building a tool to help you do that for the next conference (unless I can get Jacob to build it into Conferenceer).
All of these ideas really go for any conference, meetup, barcamp…whatever. I’ve given some SXSW specific tips but on the whole, these can apply anywhere. If all goes as planned, I’ll be at Web2Open next month and will hopefully be presenting material based on some of these tips, with a focus on “how to lower communication barriers and really interact with your global peers” or something like that.
But for now, that’s my SXSW wrap up/tips for n00bs, I hope that n00bs can find this next year when they are planning.
One more HUGE thanks goes out to the Viddler guys for putting me up in their hotel room. BFF forever.
i’m clearly a SXSW n00b. Lots of people have techniques for keeping track of who’s business card belonged to who. Some jot down notes, location, etc directly on the card (mine is tricky being double sided AND glossy). Some take your photo with you holding the card (I’m being SO bad at taking pictures. I’ve taken like…4. Luckily over 1000 new photos go up on flickr tagged SXSW every hour or so.)
So my idea. I’ve got this stack of cards, most of whom i remember having a conversation, or a face, or what they do(beyond the title on their card)…but not necessarily all of them.
I’ve started searching flickr with first and last names on the business cards. As more people tag (and accurately), this tool will get more useful.
I’m thinking it would be handy to have a tool that I can snap a photo of a business card, upload it, tag it with things i remember about meeting that person…and then have the app search flickr, technorati, etc for those tags…pulling back what it finds. I can at a glance see if the info is correct, relevant, or not, and mark it as so. Obviously, the more people providing and tagging content, the quicker and more accurate this can become.
I spent a good portion of yesterday with Jacob Patton, the guy who whipped up Conferenceer earlier last week. Since we’re likely going to be working together on some other stuff in the near future (i love this kid…just a sharp conversational mind, with good ideas and great execution), I’m probably going to bug him to give me the rails intro I desperately need, and I’ll use this little hack-up to test out my new chops. If you’re interested in helping/helping teach me too, that’d rock.
in other news, while staying up til 7am with me and Rob Colin started hacking at tagoops, the reverse search engine as he and rob coined it. the idea is for you to search for a term, and it return the results for the opposite of that term (as provided by other users…). You can only imagine the chaos this can cause. and thats what we’re about my friends. causing chaos. stirring it up. having fun. 🙂
that, and drinking for 14+ straight hours at barcampaustin yesterday was just out of control. HUGE thanks to whurly and all of the attendees, organizers, and tab sponsors. i promise I did my part to consume the provisions.
I met a ton of my internet heroes yesterday, and after getting to speak a bit about independents hall, hopefully becoming someone else’s hero. If i can motivate one person half as much as this conference has motivated me so far, then I’ve done my job.
enough mushy shit, i need to get to the conference.
peace [tags]sxsw, barcamp austin, business card tagging, people finding, conferenceer, ruby on rails[/tags]
Lots of people are live-blogging, or blogging daily. Unless I’m particularly inspired, don’t expect much from me on here. If you want to know what I’m up to (good or evil), check out twitter (which, by the way, is proving useful except for when we melt their relay servers).
Jadedpixel just announced that they have openid enabled their shopify administration panel. I wish I had more time to write about this, but since I don’t I’ll keep it simple by saying: way to go guys!
Shopify keeps continuing to impress me as they roll out new features for me to offer to my customers. And the developer forums? Filled with some really smart people. One of my favorite niche development communities to follow. Not to mention that they’ve open sourced their ActiveMerchant rails module, and the Liquid templating language. These guys know how to do things right, and how to keep things going. Three cheers.
Keep kicking ass, JadedPixel.
[tags]Shopify, OpenID, JadedPixel, kudos[/tags]
but i twitter often-er.
Last night i was having one of my “cant sleep, must code” fits and decided to whip up my own version of a twitter sidebar widget. Now, on the right of every page, you’ll see “what i’m thinking” followed by a short burst of thought.
Twitter, for those of you somehow unfamiliar, finds a happy medium between stream of conscious and blogging. In this particular case, i have 140 characters to answer the question, “what are you doing right now”. The really cool part is it’s updatable via SMS, AIM/GTalk/Jabber, or the REST interface provided in their API. So you get microblogging, on the run.
Code example after the break.
Seems to be the buzz around this week…everyone in the industry is either getting ready for South by South West, or regretting the decision to not go (Sorry Geoff and Alex). My flight leaves in a little over 48 hours, and of course I haven’t started packing…but Eric Meyer’s twitter above got me thinking…
When I go on a snowboarding trip, I know what to bring because I’ve been before. But the first time I went, I went without some of the right gear and was proverbially (and literally) left out in the cold. My goal for the next 48 hours is to figure out the most efficient packing regime.
Thanks to expectable delays, I’ll NOT be checking luggage. Which limits me to 1 rolling suitcase and my backpack, which doubles as a laptop case for my Macbook Pro. Besides clothing, which I can efficiently pack 5 days worth…what should I be bringing? Things that are obvious to me:
What am I forgetting? If someone doesn’t jump on my question here, I’ll be sure to publish a guide post-conference for next year, and for all newbies to come.
[tags]SXSW, packing, toolkit, travel, ridiculous suit[/tags]
How cool is this: Last night I met with the guys at P’unk Ave about some potential coworking opportunities, as well as other community outreach exercises. During our discussion, they talked about something called Junto…apparently Ben Franklin had something very similar to Barcamp here in Philadelphia back in the 1700s. According to WP, they shared views on things like “morals, politics, and natural philsophy”. Furthermore, from what it sounds like, Benny boy would be pretty proud to know that the inhabitants of his city were working together towards “mutual improvement” via Barcamp and coworking.
I’m literally floored by this, its some of the most exciting history about my city I’ve ever read. If this isn’t inspiring…I don’t know what is.
At any rate, the conversation started with Geoff and Alex @ P’unk Ave (which is short for Passyunk Ave, one of the oldest roads in the city that they live and work on…very clever) was awesome, and I’m excited to see what kind of collaboration these guys can get involved with. We’re already talking about a Barcamp (P’unkCamp?), and they have some great ideas of their own to use their space for the whole community. Kick-ass!
In the mean time, don’t forget to check out CreativeCamp, whose 3rd incarnation is being held on March 31st (just a few weeks away!). Sign up, come hang out with us, and get down with some Junto of your own!
[tags]inspiration, Junto, coworking, barcamp, Philadelphia, Ben Franklin[/tags]
These are my most popular and most valuable pieces, to help you get started.