I decided to attend South by Southwest this year. I went to the SXSW Interactive which is their high tech and internet focused festival. One of the primary reasons for choosing to go the conference was basic curiosity. I have watched this festival being a strong regional event to mushrooming rather quickly or seemingly quickly to a national and international event. I also had noticed that the television news agencies were doing live updates at the trade show. Bloomberg, Wall street Journal, and FOX Business were the agencies that I have watched the past 2 years. They probably had a presence prior to that, but that is when it had come to my attention.
Starting an online or internet marketing agency, I was curious as to what topics and subjects are trending in this space. I knew that SXSW interactive was huge, but I was not aware of how colossal it actually is. Most folks who live in Austin are not aware how large it is, they know it as a very large music festival. It takes up the entire Austin Convention Center and it bleeds out into 8-10 downtown area hotels and the Palmer Center. Some the ACC is allocated to the Film festival which is running concurrent with the Interactive and then the Music component of the festival.
Each participant has the power to be their own author or architect of their curriculum while at SXSW Interactive. There can be up to 40 different sessions occurring at any given time during the five day conference. The sessions are spaced out in one and half hour increments with each session being one hour. They do an outstanding job of the sessions that I attended to starting on time within the minute and closing the session within the minute. You get a large book explaining the content for each session and much more. You get a handy guidebook to carry to assist you in showing all of the sessions for a certain time and where those sessions are located.
When I got all of stuff at registration, it became clear to me that I needed to go back to my place and start game planning how I am going to navigate this Interactive experience. There were more moving tentacles to this conference than I had anticipated. There really is no way to really know unless you bite the bullet and jump in. That, of course, is par for many or most choices we make.
There are other interests besides attending discussions or the sessions. There are workshops, Partner programming, mentor sessions, meetups, book readings, and something called future 15 sessions where 15 minutes is allocated to each subject for a total of 4 sessions. With this wide gamut of choices of how you choose to create your convention experience, five days can flow rather quickly. I only attended Keynote, featured presentations, and the one hour sessions. I will tap into some other the other venues and content possibilities next year. How about that? I just stated I am going back next year. I considered this year to be a test. It did pass the curious test with flying colors. Next year I will into the conference less flat footed. I will have more to say about the conference in another post.