It’s going to take me a bit to look back on the experience I had in Austin.
I actually just made it home a few hours ago. I’m not going to walk through every detail in review of the conference, because there are other people who play that role on the web, and in a lot of cases they probably do a more thorough job of it.
I consider the five days and four nights I spent at South By Southwest Interactive to be the most rewarding and engaging five days I’ve spent anywhere in a long time. Sure, it’s not the same as my annual trip to Upstate New York, (where I get quality time with some thirty cousins and basically get off the grid for a week) because that’s a different kind of payoff.
Yet having the opportunity to walk around a square mile of a city like Austin surrounded by people doing cool stuff as their modus operandi is like swimming in a sea of stimulation; nothing seems impossible and nothing seems outside the reach of whomever is willing to extend their arms.
Some quick thoughts…
- Entrepreneurs Take Over: I’ve read some recaps of the weekend, and will read more, but I get the sense that it’s becoming a founder’s scene. Since SXSW makes their money on access to panels and workshops, I can see this becoming a problem, because an entrepreneur isn’t always going to prioritize panels when they could be outside having real conversations, and making real connections. I know founders who made a point to show up at the end of panels, because it was then that you could really engage the presenters.
- Foursquare, Gowalla, Location: This was a big theme this year, and in my opinion a bit underwhelming. I expected far more innovative takes on the space, and didn’t see them. Location is interesting, but not in an of itself. I don’t like to harp on new tech too much, but Foursquare & Gowalla really didn’t play a huge role in my weekend. I was impressed when after checking into my hotel lobby, Gwen Bell sent me message that she was there too, but I got it after I’d already left, and never got to meet her.
- Twitter Still Wins: Twitter is still the most interesting thing I carry around with me. Never is that more evident than in Austin, surrounded by other folks using it to communicate. It’s still arguably more useful than texting, with the extra info in your stream and ability to reach more people. As a sidenote, their CEO is not interesting.
- Idea Freaks Aren’t Haters: I think my biggest takeaway is that early adopters are a very willing crowd; in Austin everyone was seeking out the new ‘new’ (as Kid Cudi puts it) and they were largely willing to accept imperfect technology if the idea was interesting enough. I think more young companies should have an Austin Plan, and it should focus around quickly communicating your idea in some interesting way. A street team handing out stickers isn’t interesting. Handing out pie during office hours is interesting.
More to come…especially some notes on the incredible people I was lucky enough to meet.
Got thoughts on SXSW? Share them in the comments!
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.