SXSW 2013: Saturday – Monday

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So, the first couple of days of SXSW and where are we? Well, I don’t really want to bore you with too much stuff, so these entries for the next few days will be pretty brief.

Deep down, for me and Mrs. Toad, this is a week of holiday in Austin, one of the nicest US cities we’ve visited, and a mile away from the middle-American nightmares she tends to visit on business. We’re here on holiday, to have some fun, to eat some amazing food, and to wander around in a pleasant sunshine a long way removed from the pissing rain and sleet in Edinburgh.

We have some pals here who we only see at SXSW as well, from Song, by Toad commenter Campfires and Battlefields, to Dev from The Hype Machine, Peej and Farah, our pals who live here and whoever else we happen to stumble across while we’re here. So it’s fun, it’s sociable and the food and drink are both awesome.

There are three aspects to the professional side of this conference, however, and I may be a mere record label mogul, but Mrs. Toad works in investment management, so the Interactive side discusses technological developments which are actually pretty worth her paying attention to. Film we’re a bit sketchy on, and music is allegedly my forte.  So during the first few days, while all the interactive stuff is going on, we go to presentations. She because it is professionally useful, and I simply because I find them interesting.

I got into town on Saturday night, for example, met up with Mrs. Toad, young Ian, and Andy from Gerry Loves Records. We drank a shitload of gin, sold one of our party in sexual servitude, and woke up feeling distinctly groggy.

So yesterday we ignored the conference, and Mrs. Toad and I walked into East Austin to have some cocktails at the awesome Rio Rita’s. It’s hipster as fuck, but the Bloody Marys (below) are the best you’ll get anywhere, and we love the place. We had some scran at the Boiling Pot after that – they literally just tip a bucket of crab’s legs, corn and crayfish onto the table, give you a hammer and let you get on with it – and had a relatively early night, by SXSW standards.

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Today, however, the serious shit commenced. And by serious, I mean AWESOME! For some reason, on this year’s schedule there is a lot of stuff on spaceflight and space exploration, so I started off at the main convention centre with two talks: The New Golden Age of Human Spaceflight, and 100 Year Starship: Interstellar Travel and Beyond. Both were interesting, but the second, despite being slightly less practical, trumped the first by having an astronaut, an astronomer, and Jordi fucking LaForge from Star Trek on the panel. Yes, seriously!

A couple of beers later, and I went to another talk about The Myth of the Lone Inventor. It was kicked off by the speaker – Matt Novak from Paleofutures – discussing a comic from the Oatmeal, and finished by Matthew Inman, the writer of The Oatmeal, getting up to debate the point of his comic as compared to the point of the lecture. That, too, was pretty cool.

So here I sit, with yet another beer, in a hotel which reminds me of a slightly larger version of the Great Glass Elevator from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (see below), and I have one more seminar to attend, on the future of 3D printing, and then I’ll be off with Mrs. Toad for a really nice meal and (quite possibly) some more drinking.

I’ll be trying to take it slowly though, because there’s a couple more days of this before the music even starts. Last year I burned myself out, and this year that is not happening!

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