This year I had the great fortune to be asked to be on a panel at SXSW. It was amazingly fun. However there was only one person I had ever met in person at the conference this year. So I was swimming in a sea of strangers.
But apparently there were a lot of people that I was tangentially connected to in some way.
I was commenting to one of my co-panelists, Victoria Ransom that a previous co-worker of mine looked somewhat similar to her, had a similar accent, and also had a Harvard MBA. Victoria correctly guessed the person I was talking about and had known her for longer than I had.
I was at the Google booth, relating an anecdote about a PDF that I had had trouble reading on a website, when I realized that the person from Australia who had uploaded said PDF was standing right there.
Another person had worked with the identical twin brother of Ian Siegel. Ian has been my boss for most of the last 7 years. (At 2 different companies.)
One of the last people I met was a fellow Google employee whose brother in law was Mark-Jason Dominus. I've known Mark through the Perl community for about a decade.
And these are just the people that I met and talked with long enough to find out how I was connected to them.
Other useful takeaways? Dan Roam is worth reading. Emergen-C before bed helps prevent hangovers. Kick-Ass is hilarious, you should catch it when it comes out next month. And if you're in the USA then Hubble 3D is coming to an IMAX near you this Friday. You want to see it. I'll be taking my kids.
And advice for anyone going to SXSW next year? Talk to everyone. If you're standing in line for a movie, talk to the random stranger behind you. Everyone is there to meet people. Most of the people there are interesting. You never know. Talking to the stranger behind you in line might lead to meeting an astronaut. (Yes, this happened to me.)