From SXSW 2008 – amidst sirens and Austin, Texas 6th St. street noise – comes an interview with filmmaker Erich Weiss premièring “Hori Smoku, Sailor Jerry” about the originator of contemporary tattoo-ing – and iconoclastic libertarian American – Norman Collins who combined Japanese technique, Polynesian traditions, and American motifs in Hawaii during WW2.
The interview delves into the the “screwed, boozed (blued), and tattooed” wild culture as a million sailors and soldiers descended upon the idyllic islands (especially Hotel Street), plus Mr. Collins’ complex life, the artistic lineage of Sailor Jerry, rivalries and legacies of various tattoo artists/legends, mentorships of Don Ed Hardy and others, and the remarks about “fad” tattooing and (lack of) regret.
Day two or three, depending on how you count ‘em, of my 3rd quest to South by Southwest in Austin Texas… And I gotta say, it’s shaping up just fine man. You know, I’m keeping up a solid effort and fully professional about spreading the love of my job, and that’s going really well. Also very important to maximize the party and good times, and that, too, is progressing suitably well.
Despite shaking off some nasty flu and general haggardness from excess travel and in general just haven’t taking very good care of myself, and then coupled with some disorganization and long stories about things that didn’t get printed and didn’t get delivered and stuff, yeah it’s rolling along just fine.
Recap: Last night down at the Gingerman, one of my favourite beer drinking places (which has moved around the corner to a location that might even be finer than its previous, though I’m really surprised that’s even possible because that old location was just fine).
Yesterday I rallied up after my slumber and scarfed down some nasty coffee and went down to the Hideout Coffee Shop. I met up with this nice Canadian lady that I met every time that I’m down here and as soon as I walked in the door she said, “You’re here from Canada” and I’m like, “Yes I am!”
It was packed and hectic. Just like last year, I was late for these migas breakfast burritos laden with a bunch of leftover odds n ends shit: egg, cornflakes, etc. Tasty. I really needed a good proper breakfast! Where should I go? She told me some directions to this place and I thought I was going off track but then it all came together and I got some wicked blueberry pancakes at the Counter Cafe with poached eggs just the way i like em.
If you’re not careful you end up living on appetizers, which is why today I’m on a quest for a proper breakfast, so again, I am in some dire need of sustenance – need to nourish the body to nourish the soul. At the Hideout I got a big giant smoothie. It was quite charming.
Then, at the convention centre, I stood in line and got my badge! You gotta have a badge. If you don’t have a lanyard, man, you don’t belong.
Then I rallied with some buddies and we sat on the lawn drinking Sobe green tea. I had some Japanese envelopes from my papery stash — back from 1983! I was fortunate to be able to augment my stash with some more packets from a Japanese dollar store in Tinseltown. So I sat with some buddies (John and Jason) and I filled these wee dossiers with stickers, tattoos, pins and sealed my card in. It was like a bundle of diplomatic goodness. Good time doing arts and crafts in the sunshine.
Then I found a little table to setup. I was curious about a press release I had put out so checked on that while thinking about issues about privacy, elitism, notions about early adoption, etc.
Then I headed off to Mellow Johnnies — it’s a bike shop, a complete beauty. It wasn’t super fancy but it felt really comfortable. They had smoothies and maps for local riding routes. I could see how you might like living here with all the distances to ride. There’s not really mountains — not by the B.C. definition but long roads to ramble.
Anyhow, this particular meetup event at Mellow Johnny’s had to do with my professional capacity. The people/hosts knew what I was doing with day-job and knew what we were up to and we had some intelligent discourse about this particular topic.
But, my highlight was sharing these envelopes with all these people. And explaining the love and care that went into those things and they opened them up with excitement and questions. Cheap and Cheerful marketing success.
How an unlikely mix of nerds, rock-and-roll hippie freaks, and business suits grew into the tech worlds most-talked-about annual gathering.
When South By Southwest Interactive launched in 1994, there wasn’t much to it: a couple hundred participants and a handful of panel discussions, all crammed into a few rooms at a Hyatt in Austin. Back then, the festival was really only half a festival—as evidenced by its title, SXSW Film and Multimedia—and was eclipsed by the vastly more successful SXSW Music Festival, from which it had spun off.’
Today, SXSW Interactive welcomes more than 30,000 registrants to Austin each March and has become a coveted launching pad for startups (including Twitter and Foursquare), a hunting ground for tech investors, a laboratory for forward-thinking ideas, and a lavish five-day party that’s often referred to as “geek spring break.”
MEMORABLE PANELS FROM THE FESTIVAL’S FIRST DECADE:
1. INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS FOR MULTIMEDIA (1995)
“What will be possible as … we move toward an age in which text, graphics, audio, and video will be simultaneously delivered to our desktops?”
2. NET SURFING: WEB BROWSING (1995)
“Sample the high-octane Internet environment by taking a Net cruise.”
3. THE WEB IS DEAD? (1996)
“Is Marc Andreessen the next Bill Gates? Or is [it] the other way around?”
4. ANARCHY (1997)
“New communication technologies heighten the potential for both social rebellion and government control.”
5. STREAMING VIDEO TECHNOLOGY (1999)
“How streaming video … will impact our traditional notions of home entertainment.”
6. WEBLOGS (2000)
“How and why weblogs are changing the way we express ourselves on the Internet.”
7. WEARABLE COMPUTERS (2001)
“The next generation of computers will be a fashion statement embedded directly into your clothing.”
8. THE REVOLUTION ISN’T OVER (2002)
“In the wake of the tech meltdown, there are still numerous new trends and opportunities.”
9. HOW TO FUND A SMALL INTERNET BUSINESS (2003)
“The heady days of high-dollar venture-capital investment may be over, but…”
10. THE IMPACT OF WI-FI WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS (2003)
“The number of Wi-Fi hot spots will explode … making Wi-Fi the peoples choice for connectivity in the future.”
Photo by Gary Miller
But its two-decade history suggests the now-famous festival is quite a bit more than that. Within SXSW Interactive’s march from obscurity to prominence is the story of digital culture itself. SXSW was a hive of activity for early web denizens and hackers around the turn of the century, and a birthing ground for the social media revolution that reshaped modern life in the second half of the ’00s. Its emergence from the shadow of the music festival it grew out of mirrors the transformation of geeks into modern society’s newest rock stars.
A glance at the résumés of the dramatis personae enlisted for this oral history speaks to SXSW Interactive’s remarkable breadth and scope: In among the technologists, bloggers, investors, and founders of companies such as Flickr, Twitter, and Foursquare are billionaires and a homeless man, rock stars and a pedicab driver, comedians and civil servants. “Something really interesting happened when you brought together all these people with very different backgrounds, interests, and expectations to mingle and get drunk and sleep together,” says Lane Becker, a blogger and entrepreneur, who has missed only one SXSW since 1997. “That is pretty much how culture happens.”
This is their story: a topsy-turvy, occasionally sad, sometimes contentious, frequently messy, but ultimately triumphant chronicle of how what began as little more than an afterthought grew into one of the most important cultural and economic incubators of the new millennium.
After eight SXSW conferences, I’ve learned that the hard way. When my company was first getting off the ground, we were completely lost in the shuffle, despite our best efforts. In 2012, however, we had a 28-foot-long, 15,000-pound secret weapon. To stand out amid the gala parties and blow-out bashes hosted by much bigger tech companies, HootSuite decided to take to the streets. We transformed a Ford E-450 shuttle bus into possibly the world’s biggest owl, in honor of our mascot – mounting a pair of giant eyes above the windshield and affixing enormous plastic wings on the sides.
Cheesy? Yes. Effective, absolutely. By the end of the conference, our logo had been splashed across the pages of USA Today, Mashable and Inc. The conference’s highest profile attendees were clamoring to get on board and party with us. And investors whom I didn’t even know were inquiring about thecompany. In the end, it cost us around $30,000 to buy and outfit the vehicle. Considering that hosting just a single party at SXSW can cost as much, if not more, that’s an absolute steal. This year, in fact, we’re bringing HootBus back for its third ride.
With another action-packed #SXSW come and gone, I’m now back in Vancouver, enjoying a plate of pancakes and an overflowing inbox staring me straight in the eyes.
Upon my arrival, I found myself quoted in the Wall Street Journal, and felt pretty cool.
Here’s an excerpt and one of my top tips year-after-year for SX goers:
One way you may be able to tell apart investors and other bigwigs from the masses at South By Southwest is by zeroing on people’s feet, suggests Dave Olson, vice president of community for HootSuite, a social-media-management platform. While almost everyone wears hoodies, jeans and other casual attire, high fliers tend be the only ones sporting “rare vintage Puma sneakers” or other fancy footwear, he says.