Toronto – As the lone employee from Softcom going to SXSW, I feel obligated to write a sort of diary of my adventures in Austin. So I will, to the best of my attempts chronicle some of my adventures here at SXSW the next couple days. Let’s start with my adventures on Friday, March 11th.
Getting To Austin
My 7 am flight meant that I had to wake up at 3:30am in the morning. It is the year 2011 and I have to leave my house 3 entire hours before I fly away. Think about that. I can order a pizza from my phone while on a subway, yet if I want to fly away, I have to leave my house in the middle of the night three whole hours before I am on the plane. Sigh. Since Air Canada was not bright enough to realize there’s a migration of people from Toronto to Austin every March, I had to connect in Atlanta. Atlanta has a fantastic airport, the layout is as good as I’ve seen and although it isn’t as high tech and architecturally beautiful as some of the Asian airports, I highly recommend it for it’s efficiency.
Arriving at Austin-Bergstrom airport, I was once again greeted by the familiar crisp blue sky and Texan heat that I had come to expect in March. It was beautiful, no more snow, no more rain, just sunshine and shorts. Freshbooks, an online invoicing company also based out of Toronto, was running a shuttle between the airport and the convention center. I gladly took them up on their offer for a ride and off I went.
After settling in at my hotel and picking up my registration badge at the ACC (Austin Convention Centre), I maintained my tradition of having my first meal at one of my favorite spots in Austin – Casino El Amino. Unless you’ve done some online research or have heard of the bar via word of mouth, Casino El Amino is not a bar that you would normally go to in Austin for SXSW, it’s always dimly lit, there are some shady looking (albeit totally nice) tattooed/pierced characters in the front and it is pretty much the definition of a dive bar. However, it also serves the best burgers. Once you eat one of the burgers here, your life pretty much changes and you will look at all other burgers with disdain. It’s that good. If you need further prove, this place was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Naturally, one goes to SXSWi not just for endless booze, free food and partying, but for informative panels that will help define where online technology is headed over the course of the year. One of the panels that peaked my interest was the Future of WordPress panel with Matt Mullenweg, one of the people responsible for application. As a frequent user of WordPress, I was curious as to the direction that this content management system was going. I was surprised to hear that WordPress accounted for 12% of the entire internet and growing by the minute. The discussion included recent DOS attacks on the WordPress servers from China (not politically motivated), other competitors (Tumblr, particularly) and differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
I was pleased to hear that the WordPress team is working on better integration of images within the application, a move no doubt inspired by the success of Tumblr and their massive photo-blog audience. It is important to note that Tumblr’s way of reblogging affects metrics to the point where a recent tumblr site – Daily.what switched over to WordPress because of Tumblr’s inability to properly provide true visitor analysis. The discussion then veered towards too recent introductions – the plugin Jetpack which aimed to bridge the functionality between WordPress.com and WordPress.org users, and Guided Transfers, a one time fee in which the WordPress team will help you transfer your site and content off WordPress.com onto your own hosted domain and account on a WordPress Web hosting company, such as ours. So if you are a WordPress.com user and wish to transfer off WordPress.com, feel free to keep myhosting.com in mind.
The rest of the night included drinks at the Macallan Lounge and seeing Brooklyn band Pains of Being Pure at Heart play the SapientNitro party. Having only slept three hours the night prior, an early night was needed in order to rest up for the rest of the festival.