The past five days have been a life-changing experience. Although I’m a few years behind many of my friends and colleagues, this year was my first year attending SXSW Interactive and given that its attendance was up 40% from last year and attracted almost 20,000 international social geeks (yes, we exist), my experience was both different and unique compared to past goers.
In my next posts, I’ll be sharing the amazing things I learned just from being exposed to so many brands, intelligent people, and ideas. This one, however, captures my experience in a nutshell. I had a 30-minute window between sessions one day, so I walked around what seemed to be the most populated and buzzing corner (the northwest corner of the Austin Convention Center) and frantically typed the snippets I was hearing in the Notes application of my iPhone. What I heard was just fascinating. Notice the tools, brands, and technologies mentioned. Notice the social interactions. Notice the marketing and sales inherent in conversation. I think this tiny slice of the big SXSW pie captures cultural, social, and economic trends of today. Notice the digital and social cross-section and sampling of the experience that is SXSW Interactive:
Gauntlet is a Facebook application. Badgeholders. These companies. HTML 5. Want a bike? (me: no, thanks.) Free MacBook at 6 pm if you want to drop your card. How long have you been doing your startup? Yeah, I quit my job 2 weeks ago to be more hands on. I have a few friends at Hashable, business contact exchange and managing relationships. Have a card? I’ll show you. So I’ll hashtag you, what’s your Twitter name? What will happen is I’ll tweet at you publicly with a link to my contact info so you don’t have to exchange business cards and you can see how strong the relationship is. Win a free Mac, 6 pm. Semi-interactive t-shirt? Do you work at a startup? Where did you get your popsicle? (Me:) A little ways up and they’re free. Full serving of HTML 5, wanna drink? (Me:) Is it water? (Dude:) No, it’s Monster. (Me:) No. I had the best free food, gumbo and pate and smoked salmon and lemon blueberry (something I couldn’t hear), some chai. Oh, I love The Onion! Free party tonight at the W. Dreamsicles, popsicles. Free Rackspace party at Kung Fu Saloon tonight. I don’t know if I want a free hug. I saw your concert. I think I might just walk by there. Nice meeting you. You too, have a good Southby. Omg, this dreamsicle is…dreamy. If we can just get 5%. Where did you get that Popsicle? 10 steps away. You want energy for those hugs? It’s all digital strategy. Tribune’s one of my clients. (To me, lady on street:) You have an iPhone…here’s a free screen cleaner, and my card. Tribune, Sears, L’oreal. Cool stuff. I’m social media, mobile strategy. Cesar Chavez. Raffling off a MacBook. What time on Wednesday do you plan on being here? Music fest. All that beer was a bad decision. Yesterday was the only night we stayed in. We only had like 4 hours of sleep the night before. Hilton…the hotel. I had forwarded the directions I got online.
I love it. I want more of it. And, I can’t wait until next year! Until then, keep creating, ideating, and entrepreneurizing.
Oh, and today’s my blog’s 2nd year birthday!! Keep reading, and I’ll keep writing!