I’ve been trying to make it to South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) for several years, but the planets just never aligned.. That is, until this year.
SXSW, for those unfamiliar with the event, is held each Spring in Austin, TX and includes Interactive, Film & Music sessions spread across 1 1/2 weeks. I attended the Interactive sessions, which ran for five days, Friday-Tuesday, March 12th-16th and is referred to by some as “Spring Break for Nerds.”
I’ve been following the event for several years, so I somewhat knew what to expect going into it. According to several sources, interactive registration was up 40% over 2009, to somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 total. I’m not sure what the final count was, but there will need to be some changes next year to accommodate the growth.
There have been several great summary posts, which I’ll include below. Overall, at least for me, it was a very successful use of time and resources.
Attending events isn’t cheap, but there’s something to be said about attending events in person and meeting people in real life. It just isn’t the same to watch the videos, monitor Twitter and blog content. You have to be there in person to really experience the event.
Steve Hall had a few great points that summarize my perspective (see his article below on Adrants):
- “But where else can you physically hang with so many people in the marketing/interactive/advertising/social/geek space all at once.”
- “SXSW is about the people. Sure, panels and content are important but it’s the people you want to connect with. It’s people you will do business with. It’s people who will become part of your professional (and personal) life.”
Highlights for me:
- Attending Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynote (the guy has passion!)
- Experiencing the hype around geo-location checkin services – everyone was checking in using Foursquare, Gowalla, etc. The panels such as Time+ Social + Location: What’s Next in Mobile Experiences were packed.
- Overemphasis around all that’s cool about iPhones, even though I don’t think they’ll rise above 15% market share
- The lameness of several of the keynotes and sessions (crowdsourcing doesn’t always work)
- Validation of the large opportunities in mobile, social and location-based services
- Pleasantly surprised that the AT&T network held up under the network strain and the WiFi at the event was great, which helped make up for the horrible internet service at my hotel
- Meet and greet in real life at Allhat II, a meetup organized by David Armano & Richard Binhammer
- Hearing both sides discussing the Yelp effect
- Having a Twitter hashtag, such as #contentrelevanttome for each panel or event was very helpful for tracking discussions via Twitter
- The brainpower on stage for “Making Content Relevant to Me, Here and Now” and several other sessions was mind-blowing
- Good discussions around the future of context, information overload and the difference between information and being informed
- Learned about some cool new location apps like at Seek ‘n Spell and scvngr, a geo-gaming platform at “Playing with Place: Location-Based Games and Services”
- While I don’t always agree with Jason Fried from 37signals, I’m glad I was able to catch part of his session and learn a bit about his new book, REWORK.
- Many people have seen the Socialnomics videos from Erik Qualman, but it was good to hear him speak and I’m looking forward to an updated round of stats on social media
Other great SXSWi 2010 posts: