Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

13 April 2010

SXSW 2010 Recap

In March, I traveled to Austin for SXSW. For whatever reason my experience at SXSW felt a lot more low key than in years past. This is a bit strange because this year was the biggest SXSW ever, and I had far more stuff to do than ever before.

Cogaoke

Greg Hoy Killing it at Cogaoke

In what is undoubtedly now a yearly tradition, Happy Cog threw an enormous karaoke party entitled “Cogaoke”. We pulled out all the stops this year with more contestants, more judges, more sponsors and a longer open bar.

It’s funny because I don’t really get into karaoke at all. It’s not something I seek out or make time for. Nonetheless, it’s downright impossible to not enjoy the spectacle that is Cogaoke.

We don’t just put on a party though. It’s a competition for which people are preparing months in advance. We started back in January by putting up a teaser site and in February we debuted the full site with contestant registration. Meanwhile we were making training videos, teaching people how to put on the most amazing performance they can.

It was a huge deal that entailed lots of extra work for the whole office. I enjoyed working on the whole project, getting to do design as well as front-end and back-end development. Fun stuff.

The event itself went off without a hitch. I didn’t do a ton during the event, except for fire a confetti canon and run drinks to judges. Check out photos from the event at the Cogaoke 2010 Flickr photo pool.

ExpressionEngine Panel

The other enormous undertaking of SXSW for me was getting to give at talk at our “ExpressionEngine 2.0: Total Domination!” panel. Kenny Meyers led the panel, which was comprised of Ryan Irelan, Jenn Lukas, Mark Huot, and of course, me. Quite the crew!

We spent a decent amount of time before SXSW planning our talk, but nothing was a substitute for meeting and going through it in person, which we did a few times while at SXSW, before the main event.

I somehow found time before leaving for Austin to rehearse the crap out of my little talk, and if there’s any little bit of advice I can give to a budding speaker, it’s to do just that. Get extremely comfortable with both your routine and your slides. I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but the one bit of feedback people gave me the most was that everything seemed really polished and I seemed nice and comfortable talking. The only thing I can attribute that to is the extra time I spent going over everything. The last thing you want to do is get stuck reading your slides.

Our talk was about ExpressionEngine 2.0, an app we use as the content management system for lots of our sites. It wasn’t a commercial for the app itself, it was more a talk for people who make sites, like we do, with ExpressionEngine. I was a little surprised, but a lot of people in attendance hadn’t used it yet, and were just finding out about ExpressionEngine.

My portion of the talk was about Accessories, a new feature in ExpressionEngine 2.0. I posted the slides from my talk to my site for download here

How did it go? It went really, really well. The ballroom was packed, the Q&A went great, and Kenny did a fantastic job of getting some good laughs from the crowd. After our talk, folks from EllisLab (the makers of ExpressionEngine) took us out for lunch, which was a super nice treat.

Everything Else

There's so much to love about this.

SXSW was really fun this year. I’m tempted to say it was the most fun year yet for me. As usual, I didn’t get a chance to see everybody I wanted to, but that’s just how it goes. I’m very glad Mr. Balmer finally made it out. And of course, lots of quality time was spent getting coffee in the morning, and pints in the evening, with such fine chaps as Mr. Boms, Mr. Dorny, and Mr. Van Damme and somewhere in the middle spending some time at my new favorite place in Austin, Frank.