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Updates from SXSW

Posted By Darren Rowse 17th of March 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Over the last few days I’ve been in Austin Texas attending the South by South West Interactive (#SXSWi) conferences. Sometimes known as ‘Spring Break for Geeks’ I try to get out to this gathering each years because there are so many of my colleagues in attendance and it is an opportunity to meet up with old friends, network, do a little business and a meet a few readers at the same time.

Today is the last day of SXSW (I return home tomorrow) and despite some late nights I woke up this morning with a start on the dot of 5am (jet lag sucks). As I lay in bed reflecting upon the days I’ve just had I just started to feel very very grateful for this opportunity and especially the chance I’ve had this week to interact with some very special people.

A few highlights come to mind:

People Practicing the Art of Saying Hi

Lets start with what has happened constantly, day and night, since arriving. The people who come up and introduce themselves are amazing. Whether they be past or present readers of ProBlogger (or one of my other blogs), members at Third Tribe, previous bloggers from b5media….. the amount of people who have come up to say hi has been amazing.
I think what I enjoy so much about these real time and face to face interactions is that it makes me realize in a more tangible way that what I do as a blogger impacts ‘real people’. I find it very inspiring and a great reminder to keep building a blog here that helps such people to take their blogs to the next level. If you are one of the people who stepped up (sometimes a little out of your comfort zone) to say hi – thank you.

Salaam Garage

One project I came across on day 1 was Salaam Garage – founded by Amanda Koster (a photographer, author, speaker… and great person) – Salaam Garage brings together a variety of things I am interested in and passionate about – storytelling (with writing, video and image), humanitarianism (partnering with international NGOs) and traveling in teams. You can read more here.

Book Reading

On Friday at 5pm (day 1) I had the opportunity to do a book reading to promote the upcoming 2nd edition of ProBlogger the book (I’ll talk more about this in coming weeks as its launching late April). In the 20 minute session I planned to share what was new in the 2nd edition and run through a case study on my photography site (which is a new chapter in the book).

The session was 20 minutes but 10 minutes in a siren began to sound and an announcement came over the speaker system saying that an emergency had just taken place in the building and that everyone should evacuate. Wow – talk about a mood killer :-) Everyone calmly filed out (literally thousands of people in the building at all of the different sessions taking place at that time).

My stomach sunk a little as I realized how far I’d travelled for this 20 minute session that was now potentially just 10 minutes but even as I traveled down the escalators people were very kind and I met some amazing people. Luckily we were let back in the room 10 minutes later and I was given 10 minutes to finish my presentation.

About half those who had been there returned which was great. The other half of those who were there for the 2nd half were there for a completely different book which was strange but it seemed to go ok!

I’ll turn the presentation into a video in the coming weeks but in the mean time if you’d like to see what the reading was like you can read the notes of one person in attendance here and here and see some visual notes on it here.

Photo Shoot – Meeting Jasmine

BlogDarrenRowse0010.jpgAs I was leaving the book reading (the first time…. during the ’emergency’) a number of people said hi – one of whom was an amazing photographer by the name of Jasmine Star. I’ve long admired Jasmine’s photography and have particularly enjoyed watching her blog develop over the years (she is someone who uses her blog VERY well to build her business – a great case study). Jasmine is a photographer who many of my dPS readers LOVE too.

We only met fleetingly on the elevator but later that evening Jasmine emailed me to ask if she could photograph me. I’d only been telling someone earlier that day that I needed to get some new headshots taken and so when the opportunity came to have someone of Jasmine’s calliber take them I leapt at the opportunity.

The shoot was fun and it was interesting to watch how Jasmine approached it – but even better as the opportunity to hang and connect with someone like Jasmine who is a very genuine person. You can see some of the results of the shoot at her blog (tell me which shots you like best as I’ve got to choose some).

Other Stuff

There are numerous other great things that have happened at SXSW this year. We had a great meetup for Third Tribe (at a pretty wacky bar), I spent a great relaxing afternoon with a smaller group of bloggers at a house party, there have been some fun larger parties in the evenings, I’ve done a number of fun interviews with both bloggers, media and for the promotion of the book and have had opportunity to catch up with some good friends who I’ve not seen for a while.

All in all I’m feeling very very grateful and lucky to be in the position I’m in. I’m also feeling pretty inspired to keep at what I do and to be as useful as possible.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. I like the second row of photos, left side (blogdarrenrowse0004.jpg, left side)

    You like to tilt your head a bit too much in the photos. I would have thought that Jasmine would have caught that. Otherwise, great pics and the price was right!

  2. Hey Darren,

    I really wish I could have attended, it sounded like a blast.

    I assume you’ll be coming back for Blog World?


  3. Jasmine is a favorite photographer of mine and my wife, and you’ve been a big influence on my blogging, so I was really excited to hear she did your shots. I particularly like the one standing by the blue/green wall.

    Have a good last day, and safe trip back.

  4. Sounds like such a great experience. I hope to make it to SXSW next year.

  5. Sounds like fun. Did you ever find out who paid who to get the siren to go off? :)

  6. the poll or the full length chair are my fav portraits. :)

  7. Of the pictures…

    Top two sets are the best, and I think the left one from each set.

    She did a FABULOUS job!!!

  8. When you say “everyone” calmly filed out you mean everyone apart from you, right? I’ve been told you panicked…

    It sometimes feels crazy but it is true that the blogosphere DOES effect the real world, although it doesn’t make the world go round. Yet.

  9. “The other half of those who were there for the 2nd half were there for a completely different book which was strange but it seemed to go ok!”

    So, to spin this positively, you were able to reach a new audience?

    The people who were in the room to begin with are probably still going to buy your book. The people who were there during the second half intending to hear the other author – maybe a few of them also buy your book …

  10. Sorry our weather is so crummy for you today but I’m glad you’re enjoying the conference. Hopefully you were able to take advantage of the margaritas, BBQ and Amy’s Ice Cream in between sessions! Enjoy the rest of your stay. See you next year.

  11. It was nice to spend time with you too, Darren. What an amazing group of people we have at SXSW! I understand and share your sense of gratitude.

  12. “Spring Break for geeks” Haha. Love it. Glad you’re having fun over there!

  13. How’s the weather in Texas?

  14. sxsw is a pretty amazing event. I’m so glad we got a chance to meet. My favorite part in meeting you was how you listened to me talk about a problem that I was having. You gave me such earnest and honest advice. You probably got the same question 100 of times before, but you still listened and gave me great feedback.

    Thank you.

    When I’m in your position I will pass this generosity on to people who come up to me.

  15. I think I saw you standing in a line on 6th street this evening. Would have loved to have met ya if that was you but had no time.

    Been following your blog for a while now.

  16. Hi Darren,
    It is nic to have people “hi” you back there. As famous people no doubt people will regcognize you from afar and say Hi or Hello :).
    It took you years to be this famous and yet being yourself. Congratulations and hope if you came to Malaysia, I will able to say not only “hi!”
    but Say…
    ” Hi Darren, I am Noor Azlin Mohamad and I am a blogger too!” (dropped the word ‘pro’ because I’m not one) ;)

  17. Hi Darren,

    Thanks for the update. I checked out those sites that talked about your bookreading, would have been a very useful presentation! Looking forward to the new book update.

    Do you think the 2 year timeline of groundwork is still a reasonable expectation given the way the internet has changed over the past 3-4 years with more and more sites starting up and also those older sites becoming more established and anchored in Google search results etc? One of my blogs is about 16 months old and I easily think that its a 2-3 year project just to get it properly established, from a reader based point of view, and then also for it to rank well in all search engines. I guess my topic is well saturated so smaller niches should be easier to break through.

    Safe travels back home to Melbourne. The weather has been nice and hot here this week!


  18. Thank you for your views of your experiences at SXSW. I went over to look at Jasmine’s blog and your proofs. Gosh, she got some wonderful shots of you. She doesn’t make choosing easy, does she? ;) If you’re looking for a headshot, that B&W top right has some friendly energy. (And I like the selective focus.) But the others are so nice, too.

  19. I enjoyed spending time with you at SXSW, Darren. Sorry about pulling that fire alarm…

  20. I like two.

    The one leaning against the pole –

    and the one with your legs crossed.

    They both make you look very open and available.l

    But they are all fabulous!

    What a lovely gift to you!

  21. Hi Darren, thanks for inviting us to view your photos and share our opinions!

    I love your smile in the first two. If it were all about facial expression, I would definitely choose these, but I don’t like the blurring effect on everything but your face. Not sure why.

    I also like the one of you standing near the turquoise wall. You have a nice expression of calmness and approachability in that one.

    Of the two that show you seated with your legs crossed, I like the closer one. You look confident, but you’re still showing a bit of a smile, which is nice.

    Thanks for all you do for the blogging community. Keep up the good work!

  22. Sanford49 says: 03/18/2010 at 2:19 am

    Darren, actually I like the “smelly alley” shots the best.
    More human and visually interesting.

  23. Darren – I was happy to have met you in person here in Austin a couple of days ago. I practiced saying “Hi” to a lot of people during the event. You were actually one of three people on my “hope to meet” list – I met two of them. :)

    I was in your session that got interrupted by the fire alarm, and I did return for the end of it. Good stuff. I look forward to the new edition of your book in April, and to scheduling some time to speak with you for our BlogTalkRadio show.

    You are very gracious and approachable, which I appreciated. Keep up the good work!

  24. Thanks for sharing, Darren. Sounds like it was a great time. Wish I could have been there. Friends of mine were the Detroit team for the Chevy SXSW road trip – so, I enjoyed the SXSWi vicariously through them, as well.

    Your photos look great, Jasmine has a nice eye for composition. I think you picked the best one for this post. That was my fav, along with the wider version of it. Safe journey back home!

  25. My favorites are these:

    1) Top right close up, with a great smile,

    2) 3rd row down. The background on this one is gorgeous, the colors, the blending, the reflected light. And yet, you stand out remarkably well.

    3) 4rt row down, black and white on the right–a truly classic shot.

    4) And finally, the alley shot you’ve posted in this article.

  26. i’ve been wanting to attend the spring break for geeks. thanks for letting us participate vicariously through you. salaam garage sounds brilliant.

  27. SXSW is trending on Twitter. I talked about it on my show from NYC

  28. 1. the shot you have shown here and
    2. the second row of photos, left side

  29. Darren- Thanks for being at SXSW. I too was disappointed by the fire alarm. It was nice to find you sitting at the bar in the Hilton and to be able and say hi. You really do help so many of us and it’s nice to be able to say thank you in person.

  30. Wow! I first found out about SXSW from Jennifer Navarette’s Blog Talk Radio show, Tech in Twenty. It sounds like it a really special event with lots of education packed in. I hope to get there in the future. Thanks for the recap!

  31. Hi Darren,
    New here. (My first time reading your page, actually.) So without knowing what you are looking for, but gauging strictly with my knowledge of looking over pictures of myself for years now…

    Left to right, top to bottom,
    #2, 5, and 11 (yeah, I dig the sneakers in the shot)

    If you need other reasons why or why not, I’m sure you’ll get ’em in the comments. But I could give you the reasons for each. Jasmine is talented! And wow, so “SoCal Pretty.” Ha!

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