If you are just not that into the whole SXSW navel gazing...no need to read further :) I thought I would recap my impressions as a newbie and someone who was slightly intimidated about the whole thing...I tweeted before I left "I fear being swept up by rapid podcasters and forced to create content" - I wasn't that far off! SXSW was three months of interesting conversations and socializing compressed into three days with a healthy dose of both business and just plain fun.
People - people are really the heart of the SXSW experience and my first roll of the dice did not disappoint. In fact, I missed most of the conference tracks in favor of talking with people. I had both a ton of people that I wanted to reconnect with as well as a lot of people I know virtually that I wanted to meet. Sprinkle in some other folks and a few "celebrities" and there was never a dull moment.
Friends I got to reconnect with: @aaronstrout @heatherjstrout @adamcohen @billjohnston @jeffcutler @peterkim @jenrobinson @seanodmvp @jakemckee - not to mention hanging out with Boston people I see more regularly like @jimstorer @mikelangford ...and thank goodness for @pistachio who I saw at the registration desk and skillfully steered me in the direction of the blogger lounge where I could recover from my attack of over-stimulation.
People I didn't know but got to meet: @just_kate @kimhaynes @lavannamartin @DougWick @peterfasano @natanyap @smcdonaldatdell @twalk @kyleflaherty @conej and many others...I did a somewhat horrific job of keeping track of names & Twitter IDs so apologies if I missed you here - it's all a bit of a blur.
The hot tickets (some of whom are friends but their status transcends that at #SXSW) that I tripped across: @pistachio @loic @jowyang @JasonFalls @briansolis @stevegarfield @conniereece @guykawasaki @scobleizer @chrisbrogan
I was also really happy to get the chance to cheer on @aaronstrout (as well as other ex-Bostonians @bryanperson & @kyleflaherty) during the Texas Statesmen Social Media awards...well deserved all around.
Fun - the second piece of SXSW is really just about having a good time and that obviously overlaps quite a bit with the people. I'm a little bit of an introvert so I am probably not the best example of people who have fun at SXSW but I managed to do OK. Friends like Aaron Strout, Mike Langford, Heather Strout, Jim Storer, and John Johanson were kind enough to let me draft their peloton while cruising around Austin during the party hours on Saturday and Sunday night. On Saturday night we caravaned out to The Salt Lick - an Austin institution - and devoured heaping plates of BBQ, German coleslaw, and beans. On Sunday evening, Guy Kawasaki was kind enough to invite me and a couple of friends in to the Alltop party despite showing up unannounced - Guy throws a hell of a party - replete with hay, cowboys, and some very good music & BBQ. He was announcing the launch of My Alltop, among other things, and being as generous as ever with his time and attention.
Random - While I certainly didn't head down to Austin thinking that I would try to do anything other than the SXSW circuit, Lavanna Martin flattered me by asking to paint my portrait and invited me to another Austin institution - The Spider House - to do so. On a lovely spring morning I sat on the funky patio of Spider House chatting amiably with Lavanna and "Spider House Paul" while sipping some wonderful coffee and having my portrait painted. It was a great break from the bustle of downtown and was a slice of Austin that I appreciated seeing - and I really liked the artistic results. Lavanna is working on a series of cafe portraits that represent the tech and online culture with the idea that she may visit tech hot spots around the country doing a number of series. I love the idea and suggested that she also incorporate the art into a multi-media display or as part of tech events. Regardless of where she goes with this - I love her style and she posts much of her work on her blog, I Stare at People. If you are in Austin and also like the idea - get in touch with her!
And, although it was a vlogger and not a podcaster, I did get swept up into participating in an interesting content project. Crystal Beasley came up with an ingenious idea after struggling to come up with one interesting question that she could ask everyone and thinking that it is much harder to find the right question than the right answer. Crystal created a game of vlog tag whereby the person tagged had to answer the question of the tagger and then formulate a question for their tagee - in that way creating a running string of video linking one person to the next. Really interesting concept and I can't wait to see the result - despite my aversion to participating in the media portion of social media ;)
There are other random things that happen all over SXSW but really too many to mention...the green kilted man, the superhero being interviewed...papa smurf. That is just how it rolls.
Business - Jim Storer & I are working on a new business idea and part of the reason to attend SXSW was to get reaction and feedback to the idea. The business? An online roundtable for social media and community practitioners to help them in their day to day world which will include weekly programming, peer matching, online events with experts, peer support, vendor/consultant lists and evaluations, and curated content from around the web. While we will limit the roundtable both in size and to practitioners we will also be looking for sponsors who are looking for unbiased market research, a chance to present to roundtable members, opportunities to be spotlighted, and a chance to provide input into programming and surveys. More about the concept? Visit http://www.community-roundtable.com
We heard some interest from potential participants, interest from potential sponsors and a lot of opportunities to work with experts and consultants that a roundtable would be a good compliment to their products and/or services. So with that encouragement, we will continue our planning. Stay tuned for more information on specifics.
Meanwhile I am also doing some work as an independent analyst and writing a landscape report on the social software market and got the chance to catch up with a couple of the vendors at the show although I must admit, did not get into many of the details while I had BBQ slathered across my face (have you ever seen a Texas-sized beef rib?!?)
Would I recommend SXSW? It depends but it was definitely worth it for me. Want to see some great photos? See Jim Storer's photo stream.