Archive: April 16th, 2007

Fake tales of San Francisco

San Francisco is my kind of place. I can see why one might leave one’s heart here.

Spitting in the face of superstition, I flew over on Friday the thirteenth. I made my way to the swish studio of Kelly Goto who kindly offered to put me up for my first night in a new town.

Before resting my weary head, we went out to an Indian café so that Kelly could plan her upcoming panel with Emily Chang, Chris Messina and Richard MacManus. Before long, my name was added to the list so now it looks like I’m going to be on another panel; Monday morning’s discussion of The New Hybrid Designer. Should be fun.

Kelly’s place is close to the Mission district so once Saturday morning’s rain cleared up, I started walking around the neighbourhood, stopping for a coffee at that den of hipsterness, Ritual Coffee Roasters—“RitRo” to those in the know. Inevitably, I met someone I knew… but someone I had never met: Matt ‘Blackbelt’ Jones. Upon exiting RitRo I bumped into some more Brits in exile—Paul and Amy (with young Tom) Hammond.

This pattern of just bumping into people has continued ever since. Today I met Eris and later Simon this way. I was wandering around Union Square when I recognised someone from the Future of Web Apps conference in London in February. He also recognised me. We then initiated the “I know you but…” ritual:

Both parties pause and cock their heads slightly to one side. Each one points at the other quizzically. The pointed fingers now begin to wag as if trying to shake the names out of them. At this point both heads are turned almost completely to the side (while still maintaining eye contact) until the movement ends with a “tsk”. By now it is clear that neither can recall the name of the other and so the pointed fingers can be safely morphed into extended hands ready for shaking as each reminds the other of their name—followed by “Right, right…”

This situation is far less awkward than that embarrassing moment when you meet someone who can recall your name perfectly well while you’re still floundering in an attempt to put their face into context. I’m okay with faces; I’m lousy with names. I wasn’t always this bad. I think the first brain cells to go are the ones associated with putting names to people.

I’ll put this theory to test at the Web 2.0 Expo. It looks like most of the geek world is going to be there. I’m starting to get nervous about my presentation on Tuesday. I guess I was expecting something cosier.

Strangely, while the space inside the conference centre seems huge and overwhelming, San Francisco itself feels remarkably condensed, like one big neighbourhood. Just about everything is in walking distance from everything else and there’s decent public transport in case of inclement weather. Like I said, my kind of place.