“It’s just like every great empire, y’know what I’m sayin?”. The driver paused to honk his horn again at a cloud of content strategists. “Egypt, Rome, you Brits - they get decadent and then they fall. Same with south-by.” He pulled to a stop in front of the SoBe Lizard Lounge. “Y’all have a good time, now.”
I was out of his room by eight o’clock, just in time to make the first panels. No point waking him up, so I didn’t.
Still, I left him my business card. I’ve got 300 to get through, and a little networking never hurt anyone.
Craig checked his twitter as he came off the panel and into the bloggers’ lounge. What had been 650 followers was now 550.
Which was strange, because his audience had barely topped twenty.
Their eyes had met over a rhubarb smoothie. He was a game designer on heat, she was a planner who needed something to jazz up her loyalty scheme. They both filed their resignations that day, and by the morning they’d made it as far as Monterey.
The Frog Design party planner surveyed the devastation, and allowed himself the merest of smiles. The patio would probably require jetwashing, and the call girls would need to be paid to keep their silence, but it was money well spent.
-“Okay, come to Stubb’s.”
-“The one in the barn?”
-“No, that’s Emo’s. Stubb’s is behind the hotel”
-“Okay, see you outside the Hyatt in five.”
-“No no, the Hilton.”
-“The Hilton? Which one?”
-“The one on sixth.”
-“Sixth? What streets is that near?”
-“Fifth and- look, just Foursquare me, okay?”
The audience’s standing ovation was ecstatic, rapturous, genuine. Here, in this safe place, a man had dared to stand up and tell them that the internet was really, really important, and it was going to become more so.
He looked across at the array of shining, confident iPad 2s, little slices of the future itself, resplendent in their cases like leatherette cloaks.
Then he looked down at his own iPad, dusty but laden with his own dropbox, his own photos, his own hilarious cat background. Already synced with his calendar, after all.
“I’ll never leave you, old friend,” said he.
As we tried to muddle our way through interpolated “how’s it going?”s and settled on a hug, we both felt a familiar vibration from our phones as they registered the human contact of an old friend and added ten points to our totals. I’d vowed to stop caring about the game layer - who needs points, anyway? - but feeling the vibration was comforting, as though our meeting had legitimacy, had somehow been noticed and recorded for posterity.
Between the heat of the tarmac and the heat of the debate, I’d had about as much as I could take. I leaned over to the barman:
“I’ll have a bloody mary with celery, pepper, chillis, blue cheese, olives, and a strip of bacon. Wait, make that two.”
“Two Ashtons, coming right up.”
The VC narrowed her eyes, said, “Go.”
The nervous man took a deep breath:
“Have you ever wondered-“
“No, I haven’t. Speed up.”
“Okay, um, imagine a platform where-“
“I don’t imagine, I invest. Speed up.”
“It’s an experiemental user experience case that brings together-“
The VC gave a sigh, started to close her notebook.
“Wait! It’s basically a cross between location, group messaging, and Friday by Rebecca Black.”
“How much do you need?”