SXSWi – Crazy, Overwhelming, and I am Coming Back!

This was my first SXSWi and honestly I am walking away a bit bewildered.  After years of hearing how major players in social media launch influential products at SXSWi, I finally asked my company to let me go.  I purchased my week-long pass on the opening day of early registration and never thought  about it until a day before the event.  I downloaded the app and noticed that day one had over 100 sessions… that is when I realized, I am in over my head.

As I scrolled and selected sessions I wanted to go, I realized many were at the same time.  It was hard to pick one over the other  but I figured I would have time to decide when I get there, damn was I wrong.  When I arrived to pick up my badge and bag, I realized that there is a bit of ‘hoofing it’ between sessions.  It was not like I did not have a heads up, hell I looked at the map on the app for all the events I selected but being there changed my perspective.  Everything seemed so far apart.  I felt like a Freshman on a new college campus, excited and frantically reviewing my schedule.

I wish I could say all my sessions were stellar but sadly many were not.  Maybe I know more than I realized but a lot of the stuff at SXSW I attended spoke of the obvious.  I was hoping to glean new methods, so either I can give myself kudo points or SXSWi needs to dig for more meat.  It is not to say all were stale, the tracks on Accessibility and Libraries were stellar.  Well balanced and actual conversations were formed at those meetings.  Personal development was by far the weakest.  I tried to stay away from core programing development, but next year I will add that to my menu.

Was there any major launches for the next FourSquare/Twitter?  Not really.  Microsoft did launch IE 9 here at SXSW and that was cool.  Group messaging seems to be the major push this year.  The reason was simple, tracking #SXSW was impossible on Twitter.  I loved that each session was allowed to come up with their own hashtag.  That made following conversations easier and notes were simple to take.  The gaming layer is coming to everything that is our life.  Everywhere I turned, there were gaming mechanics applied to tools, functions and practice.  The goal was to trick people to doing work by having fun.  I love it.

Overall I was pleased.  The main goal was to come out of my shell and work up the nerve to start conversations, sadly I failed but succeeded too.  You see, though I stayed quiet, all these extroverts reached out to me.  I met a couple of amazing people that help me discover why I am a ship adrift.  I found out what I must do to restart my fire and what I must focus on so that next year, I too can share a story with someone that is nervous and timid.

So with that, I walked away from my first SXSWi feeling overwhelmed but excited. Not from anything particular but rather from the new energy the event pulled from within.  It was sad to walk away but then again, I cannot wait to share what I took and applied for next year.  Till we meet again my SXSW peeps, you guys rock!


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