February 22, 2008
How often do you get to meet someone who's outstanding in this field while they're out, standing in this field? Well, good news: KICK! is back.
KICK! is the kickball game I started as a meet-and-greet for the South by Southwest Interactive Festival, back in 2002. Over the years, it grew into a pretty substantial (and extremely fun!) annual tradition, peaking somewhere between 150 and 200 attendees.
Then, when I stopped going to SXSW after 2005, I let the game languish. But I'm going back to Austin this year, and the game is coming back with me, bigger and better than ever. I talk about it more on the site, and go into some depth on the About page, but one of my fondest memories of KICK! is that I got the chance to meet so many people who've been inspirations to me in my work, and since then many of the folks who've shown up for the game have become friends, partners, even coworkers.
I'd stopped attending some events like SXSW because I felt, as the conferences grew and changed, the amount of new things I could learn from an event was diminishing. Given the fact that I travel almost constantly, the idea of spending time and money to get to an event where I wasn't going to learn a lot of new ideas seemed especially wearying.
But I've decided that there are some parts of the web community that I don't want to give up on, and that the best way I can contribute is to make the things that I'd want to see. A chance to have a fun game (as always, nobody gets picked last!) while also consorting with the best in the business seems to fit the bill. Michael Lopp, who's moderating a panel that I'm appearing on, articulated this well:
It's big and becoming notorious for the fact that while everyone goes, many skip the panels because the panel structure provides less content and more rambling conversation where there is no guarantee that a rock star set of panelists are going to say anything useful. ...Yes, it's a panel and I just ripped panels, but my commitment is this: we'll stay on topic, say something bright, and we'll be available for yelling at a local bar shortly after the panel.
That sounds like a good mandate. Best of all, the topic of our panel is called Designing for Freedom. You'll be hearing about designing for freedom instead of attending the likely-to-be-100%-content-free presentation at the same time by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. I think that's a fair step towards making the things we want to see, too. Kick it with us. And if you're going to the game, pass the link along to everybody who should join us at the game.