Mar 16

Bringing SxSWi Back (and Why Jolie O’Dell is Right)

Twitter's Ev Williams - SXSWi 2010
Image by Randy Stewart via Flickr

So here’s my SxSWi post. Please note that your experience could have been totally different based on your approach.

I don’t want to see the Chevy Volt at South by Southwest. I don’t care to see Sobe or Pepsi. I don’t care about tattoos or doo rags or bacon stands. I want South by Southwest to return to being about technology and the future of the web. I don’t care about winning prizes and I cringe to meet web celebs. If that means I pay more and there are less people, that’s fine. I’m exhausted and I feel like I just ate two dozen cupcakes without actually eating any dinner.

Everyone launches an app or an announcement at South by Southwest. It gets very noisy and exhausting, especially when you stand by Scoble as part of your job description. Seriously, one guy pitched us as we stood waiting for a co-worker. He acted like he didn’t know who we were, but come on. Who pitches two random strangers engaged in a conversation? That’s just sick in the head.

The highlights for me? Knowing that I sponsored InfoChimps’s Big Data party and that they and the folks at Jones-Dilworth totally rocked it. Catching up with cool people I hadn’t seen in a while. Bowing out of Mashable’s party to listen to the sick dubstep next door. You know, everything outside what was actually listed on the SxSWi website.

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  • http://twitter.com/robertbanh Rob

    Yeah I ate one too many cupcakes myself. In the end it was about hanging out with old friends and meeting a handful of new ones. The panels, parties, and booths are just fillers. I think I handled out 5 business cards… it just didn’t matter to me.
    .-= Rob´s last blog ..robertbanh: @SuperMaryAnn when in rome….. =-.

  • http://www.QuantumDigital.com Cynthia Fedor

    Michelle, I have to agree with you. The sponsored lounges, contests and bacon parties were unnecessary distractions and I kind of wished they didn’t have such a large presence at SxSWi. Rather, I looked forward to hearing how others use new technologies to create innovation and change, and listening to everyone’s predictions regarding future trends. Although there were some wonderful panels and core discussions, I feel that the programming could have been a lot tighter and more robust.

    As far as the side conversations occurring in the halls and in between sessions, I’ve heard from many people—and I agree—that those were the most invigorating and interesting parts of SxSWi. The whole experience was exhausting but a great reminder to keep moving forward.

  • http://noahkuttler.wordpress.com Noah Kuttler

    So, I’ll be the Jane Curtin to your Dan Akroyd (or is it vice-versa?). I

    Yes. Chevy are now at the show. Yes. Pepsi and SoBe and all sorts of other “distractions” as you might call them are there but my SXSWi experience was still tremendous.

    It took a bit of planning on my part (and a few lucky breaks of being in the right panels or talking to the right people), but I experienced a great show and made some amazing connections and attended some phenominal panels. The key I think is planning and going to the right sessions and filtering out the noise.

    I’ve experienced this with a number of other events (both tech and non) and it’s a matter of information overload because you’re talking about two things; the event itself and the things that go on around the event.

    The key is planning and making a point to filter out the distractions but being flexible enough to follow interesting things when they pop up (which is how I ended up in a great session called “Dangerous Curves” about statistical analysis).

    As dumb as it sounds, I actually packed a lunch this year so that I didn’t have to stand in line for food and miss out on a panel or keynote I wanted to attend. Planning.

    As I always say, “your mileage may vary.”

    This is a great discussion and one that we should continue further.

  • Pingback: How to Fix SXSW | Guidewire Group

  • http://twitter.com/mikemccaffrey Mike

    I think SxSWi is a lot like the Internet. There’s lots of people. Lots of random stuff going on. Lot’s of advertising. But it is pretty easy to ignore all that and find some really cool stuff going on.

    I had a good time this year. I can’t complain about all the new people showing up, since some of them were some very good friends I had not seen in a long time. And most of those would not have been able to attend if the conference were any more expensive.

    Just my thoughts…
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..mikemccaffrey: @caroldn Did you see Scoble’s comment on Greer’s post? Not particularly realistic advice. =-.

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