When it isn’t buried under a flood tide of web geeks, band groupies, and filmgoers, Austin is a nice little town.
Or maybe it’s just a nice little downtown; thanks to a visit with Angela and Dan, I found that the greater Austin area is a good deal larger and more urban than I’d realized, not to mention growing at a rapid clip. At any rate, being there for An Event Apart Austin was markedly different than the SXSW experience (in which I’ll once again be partaking, come March) just by dint of not being nearly so noisy.
While we didn’t contribute too much noise to the area, I fervently hope that we added a whole lot of signal. I know that from my spot on the charmingly petite stage at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown, the people in the audience really seemed to be enjoying themselves, and I at least felt like I was communicating well. I think the other speakers did too, so hopefully they got the same feeling.
Part of that, without question, was due to just how friendly and welcoming the audience was. We had a few glitches here and there, but so far as I could tell, nobody let it get them down. As we said to ourselves a few times, “When you choose quirky venues, you get quirk”. I still really enjoy putting on events in not-the-usual-suspects places like the Alamo, and I’ll miss that aspect of AEA when it grows larger, but it’s definitely the case that you take your chances at a smaller venue. I think we did well at the Alamo, and several attendees mentioned how cool it was to attend an event there. I’m glad we picked it.
It’s still a gamble, though, and after a year of AEAs, I understand better than ever why so many conferences and other events are held in hotel ballrooms. It may be bland and a little soulless, but as a presenter, you know they’ve done it all a thousand times before. You know they can handle any routine problem, and in fact have. It’s comforting. You give up charm and funkiness, but in return you get stability.
I think there’s an analogy to dating in there somewhere, but I’m not going to pursue it.
After we were all done with the speechifying, the fine folks at Knowbility threw an after-party on the upstairs terrace of The Belmont, and a good time was had by all, what with the open bar and all. I even got to meet and talk with Jim Thatcher, the man responsible for PCSAID, one of the first screen readers.
If you’re wondering what it all looked like, or if you were there and want to relive the moments, there’s (as ever) a Flickr pool for your perusal. I threw in a few pictures of my own, including one for those of you who’ve ever wondered about the view from the stage. The Austin Flickr pool even has, somewhere in its depths, a picture of me being a naughty boy. Find it if you can!
All in all, the folks in Austin made it a great end to the 2006 AEA season, so thanks, y’all! I always like to finish on a high note. We’re going to take a little break in the AEA schedule while the event gets retooled and expanded. We haven’t officially announced the next show, but I’ll let you in on a little secret, just between us: it looks to be in Boston at the end of March 2007, it’ll be two days long, and I already want to see and hear our lineup of speakers. More when we have official word, which hopefully should come within the next week or so.