Yesterday, Ryan and I got off the train in Seattle around 4pm. We caught a bus up to Hotel Andre, where we found we had a really nice suite on the 9th floor, where we had a bit of a view of the bay between a few apartment buildings. Since we had a few hours until the pre-party, we headed over to Pike Place Market, where I bought a cheddar roll at Piroshki Piroshki, and then we got dinner at the Pike Brewery, just off the market.
I had a great time. The Method Arts guys are really cool, and very modest. We got there a bit early, when there were about 5 people there, and they said that if 15 people showed up, they would consider it a success. There was something like 20-30 people there, so I guess it was a success.
I met Pete LePage from Microsoft, who is the new (three weeks!) Product Manager of the Developer Division for the IE7 team. He said that he only found out about An Event Apart on Tuesday, and it was already sold out, so he emailed them and said who he was, and where he worked, and they let him get a ticket, though he joked that they were probably going to make him stand up on stage and take abuse. We talked about all the “haters” who post on the IE blog, and how you can’t please everyone. He was pretty funny, and he talked about all the cool things they have in the pipe for IE7, and mentioned that he’s personally heading up an initiative to create “add-ons” like the extensions for Firefox. He also said that he’s looking to talk to developers (that’s me!) and find out what people like and don’t like, and what it would take to get them developing in IE (which was a fun discussion). The coolest thing was that he assured me that development is not going to stop after IE7 – He fully expects there to be followup releases, and eventually, IEs 8, 9, 10, etc.
I heard that Zeldman would be attending the event, but I didn’t see him, although I did introduce myself to two people who (I though) looked like him. They were both friendly about it, and we talked, but the second guy laughed and told me that he’s way taller than Zeldman, who’s closer to five feet tall!
I did recognized Jason Santa-Maria from a video on his site that Ryan had just showed me, so I introduced myself to him (his reaction: “People are still watching that video?”). He was really nice, but I didn’t get a business card because he was all out. He talked a bit about how he’s heading up a Philadelphia branch of Happy Cog Studios. I told him that I was nervous about introducing myself to him, and we talked about how friendly everyone in the community is, and he highly recommended SXSWi to me, because everyone there is really cool, and you meet a ton of people (a recommendation that was repeated to me many times that night). He said that he thought this pre-party was a great idea, and that he wouldn’t be suprised if it becomes a trend for all the AEA events.
I also met Kevin Tamura from Blue Flavor, and was really embarrassed when I couldn’t remember the name of his coworker who ran the mobile panel at WebVisions06. He said he’s only been working at Blue Flavor for a couple of weeks, but they’ve already got him on a big exciting project. He was really enthusiastic, and told me a funny story about writing an article for a design magazine that doesn’t really get the web standards stuff.
At one point, the table I was at spotted someone in a Daring Fireball shirt, and we got all excited, wondering if it was John Gruber, until we realized it would be kind of ridiculous to come to an event wearing your own shirt (though the more I think about it, the smarter it seems – like wearing a uniform). Which led us to the idea of a shirt-advertising exchange, where you bring your shirt and someone else brings theirs, and you agree to wear each other’s shirts all day. Of course, it would only be a matter of time until this idea was bought out by Google, and turned into Google Tee-Sense™.
I sat with several groups during the party, and conversations ranged from the expected web standards geekery to the high cost of home ownership (common theme around the country) and lengthy commutes to driving highway 101 and small-town mentalities. One lengthy discussion was had about the monorail debacle in Seattle, and lightrail projects in Seattle and Portland, compared to other trains, like BART or the El. Everyone was very friendly, and all the groups were open to people just walking up and introducing themselves. I gave out almost all of my business cards there, and really feel like I met a lot of people in the community.