DonnaM » 2009 » March

Archive for March, 2009

Categories & the real world

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

One of the main challenges with creating any categorisation system is to make sure it collects what you need and matches up to the real world.

Here’s a list of single-select items I just came across on an otherwise-decent survey for a hotel where I recently stayed:

  • Household with children no longer home
  • Couple, no children
  • Household, with children
  • Single, no children

Firstly, I wonder how it is useful to them to know about my family situation. But secondly, where do I fit? Right now I’m single, with a child who lives with me half time. That so doesn’t fit into any of those categories…


Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I woke up feeling strange this morning. No, it wasn’t the three hours sleep – I know what that feels like. And it wasn’t a hangover – I certainly know what those feel like. It was something quite different and it took me a little while to figure it out.

But it needs some backstory. I was at South by Southwest Interactive this weekend. It is an incredible conference, with lots of smart people and interesting talks, and quite famous for its parties. The SXSW film festival is on at the same time so Austin is packed and there is more than plenty of stuff to do.

I was on a panel with the awesome Nick Finck and Michael Angeles, called ‘Wireframes for the Wicked‘. It was fun to work with them and according to twitter our session went pretty well. Lots of people appreciated that we left half of the time for audience questions and that we actually tracked questions asked via twitter (#wickedwire) and answered them at the time and alongside questions from the floor.¬†

Immediately following our talk was one by Bruce Sterling. His SXSW rants are famous (his SXSW party at his home also used to be famous), and I’m a big fan of his writing, so this was absolutely mandatory for me. I didn’t realise it would be so hilarious. Via a few wandering twists and turns, he spoke about change. It was a serious topic, and delivered seriously in some sections, but right in the middle he had a Bruce party right there, with crisps and beer and awesome cookies. His delivery is amazing and his timing is just perfect – he had the audience roaring with laughter (or was that just me).

With that over, I grabbed my buddy Dan Willis and we went out to dinner. Dan always makes me laugh – I’m still wondering just how mad he really is. But that doesn’t matter because we really can spend a lot of time just talking and laughing.

With the film festival on, we could get into first-showings and Dan suggested we go see ‘Observe and Report‘. I love going to movies without knowing anything about them and that certainly was the case here – I hadn’t heard of the film, the director, the actors and had no idea what it would be about. The lack of expectations can make for an amazing experience and that certainly was the case. This was one of the funniest (and weirdest, and with incredible timing) movies I have seen in a long time. I don’t usually laugh out loud in a theatre but I was laughing and hooting and clapping and so was the rest of the audience. I also don’t usually talk about movies straight after, but Dan and I were laughing and cracking the best lines all the way to the next part of the evening – the Blue Flavor party.

When the bar closed and we were all pushed out the door, as happens every morning at 2am in Austin, Dan, myself, Matt Balara and Ola hung around for another hour or so just shooting the crap, talking about everything and nothing and laughing a lot.

So can you pick up the thread here and know why I woke up feeling strange. I spent about 10 hours straight laughing. Laughing in Bruce Sterling’s talk, laughing with Dan, laughing at the movie, standing ’round on the street laughing with friends.

And I still have a big ball of laughter glowing inside me. It feels incredible and amazing and wonderful and I can’t wait to do it some more…