SxSWi was a good time

and I learned a lot. And met some nice people.

There were a lot of major themes. I was happy to see the internet future includes thoughts on how all this stuff will work inside business too. As a corporate lacky, this is valuable stuff for me, and for a long time it has seemed neglected. The main focus here was around corporate culture and the roles of communities and community managers. Interesting conversations with Saul Colt and Mallory Messina. A particular surprise was the huge value I got from a brief chat with Capt. Broshear or the USAF. Challenging concepts to translate from military to business, especially in regards to openness!

Search is one of my favorite topics, and I saw a few talks on the subject. Peter Morley, author of Ambient Findability, spoke on Search Patterns. Pretty interesting stuff.

And then there is the whole where am I where are you do I care wtf do I do with that? set of presentations. Geolocation is huge and going to get much huger. Great stuff from Adam Duvander who happens to be geolocated right down the street from me, as well as Skyhook and SimpleGeo. Truly, these people get it. It was great to see, hear, and spin on this stuff.

It was great to connect with the local Portland crew. There are some good folks out there. I liked the Macallan samples and the other free stuff too!

Thanks Texas!

SxSW – what’s a beerdrinker to do?

N and I are heading down to Austin shortly to catch the SxSW interactive conference and spend some time with her sister who moved there from somewhere I didn’t want to visit about 6 months ago. So I think I can find my way around a conference. But what about the city? Any tips…beer, BBQ, texmex, or whatnot. Cheers.

PS. Just saw the Tron Legacy preview and it looks pretty awesome.

Visiting Portland Guide: Crawl #1

Jeff at Beervana poses a question: what five beers are a connoisseur’s must-haves visiting Portland. I might have to tackle that, but really, Jeff is really on top of that in his post. I suggested a different route, a road trip around Mt. Hood. But I also threw in a crawl that I think is really worth sharing with your Portland visitors.

Begin at Rontom’s. If it’s nice out, enjoy the patio. If not, squeeze in and grab a pint. Next, move on to B-side, for a quick pint. Then, The Farm for dinner if you’re hungry. Eat light, because Noble Rot has great snacks too. Work off the meal with a light stroll up to Union Jack’s. You’ll need a few bucks for cover to this strip club. Then head up to Doug Fir and Voodoo Donuts to see how the hipper half live. Maybe there’ll be a great show downstairs. Finally, cruise up to Sandy Hut where they’ll be happy to pour you something potent while you wait for a cab.

2009 retrospective – loss and renewal

It’s been an amazing year. In some ways great, but there were some painful times. It seems that there’s a cycle where every now and then I need to go through some changes. Change is painful, and this was no exception. I didn’t always handle it well, and at points I handled it very badly. I’m not sure that I was built with the emotional fortitude to maintain the stoic coolness I’d need to manage the changes. Que sera.

In many ways I’ve completely realigned my worldview. Soccer no longer has a starring role. With that shift, my relationships both internal and external have changed dramatically. It wasn’t easy, I put a lot of my life into the game, the people, it was a passion, and still is, albeit sidelined. I no longer have the conduit for my emotional, social, and physical energies that I have known for so long. Soccer was my culture, and its people were my people. But as I had to pull myself away, things changed.

At the same time, work was changing. I felt betrayed by my job. Not for any good reason, but because of uncertainty. The changes built on top of each other. Energies otherwise spent spun on impending change that I had no control over. I felt that I was training people to commoditize my job. The world was falling apart, and mine was metamorphosing.

And change is painful. A full-blown depression, what was in my head I felt in my body. It was pretty weird, and tough to shake. And it didn’t feel good. It took a lot of work, facing my demons, sorting out what I wanted, rediscovering myself.

But slowly I emerged from the fog. It was the clarity of a clear day, morning sun lighting the mist in beams through crisp air, the bright haze bringing out the depth of the forest. Renewed purpose, a rediscovery of joy. I think I’m in a better place. But why is it so hard to get here? My friend Cory, a brilliant personality theorist had forewarned me that something like this would happen. There’d be painful changes and I would have difficult discoveries.

I wish that I hadn’t alienated some people who were important to me in the process, but eventually I’ll discover deeper meaning. I don’t think I’m through it yet, but I’m grateful for the change, I guess the pain is part of the learning.

What’s the Matter with V?

I was pretty excited about V. It was bringing back what in my mind was the original miniseries, and a nice bit of sci-fi. But this time with a budget and awesome effects and some hindsight on making a great series. Plus, I wrapped BSG and 4400 up pretty recently and need a new sci-fi serial fix.

I watched the pilot last night, and was a bit disappointed. 4400 was great, and there are some strong ties to that show here, between Joel Gretcsh and Scott Peters they really raised the bar. And after one episode, I just am not hooked. I will give it another go, but I’m not chomping at the bit for more yet.

I’ve heard people criticize and/or laud V for its ‘harsh commentary on Obamamania.’ It definitely made unveiled references to the president and current political situations. Brave. But they came out looking like something from a Sophomore’s script. Just silly. A commentary on universal health care and hope. We all know what the visitors are. They’re also presented as terrorists. I have to “hope” that the Obama references were limited to their uninspiring pilot, that their intention is to borrow from many modern charismatic leaders for the evolution of the V plot.

I suppose that my advice for the V writers is if you want to go political, start by modeling ideologies and create parallels. People will get it, and they’ll point it out for the ones who don’t…or at least the message boards will start lighting up. Get too specific and your point will be watered down, and at some point you’ll have to sacrifice your principles in favor of the fiction, or vice-versa. Symolism and metaphor are powerful tools. Billboards are too, but I’d prefer to see them on the highway (or not at all).

I was not upset by the rate at which the visitors were revealed as sinister. It wasn’t going to surprise anyone, so why put that sort of effort into a surprise? So they needed to spend some time on character development. Unfortunately they wasted too much on demonstrating which stereotype to model each character on. Most annoying was the whiny-teen you’re never around because you’re saving the world archetype of the son. Of course he’s going to be a V ambassador (or was it Hope?). Chad Decker looks to be the Faustian reporter who will sell-out his principles and the human race. I can only hope that he has a fraction of the complexity of Gaius Baltar, but for now it looks like he’s going to be the visitor’s reluctant lapdog, accepting more and more power, until he grows a pair and starts to help the resistance on the sly.

The product placement in V was pretty robust. It felt like there was almost as much as in 24. iPhones and cars and more. Lots of stuff for us to buy. Maybe it’s a visitor plot.

A two-hour pilot would’ve been a wise move. If you’re creating an epic, it helps to build empathy and plot. But if it’s a teen drama don’t worry about it.

I will watch the next episode, and probably the rest until the break. And then I’ll decide if V will continue to visit my living room. It wasn’t terrible, but so far I just don’t care, and my TV time is valuable! One positive is that V inadvertently introduced me to FastForward, which is excellent so far…sort of cop show meets memento with a bit of sci-fi thrown in.