SXSW 2011 – Introspective Recap

SXSW – THE culmination of the latest in Film, Music and Interactive media.

As I sit here and write this recap, the music portion is still going, but I had to leave and head back to reality before my liver shutdown completely (those of you who have been to SXSW and/or Austin know what I mean by that – shout out to the Chuggin’ Monkey and all of 6th Street).

Being a digital publisher and wanting to stay on top of the latest news and events happening in Austin, I had elaborate plans sketched out at the onset of this my virgin appearance at SXSW. I had everything written down detailing what sessions I was going to attend, who I planned to interview for blog posts, and I even had a listing of the specific “leading edge” technology I was going to utilize to capture all of the atmosphere surrounding SXSW.

Guess what – I followed not of those plans!!

I saw no sessions, I did however get to interview a few principals from companies I’m interested in, and I was able to get some posts in draft (but not much published).

As far as technology tools – I got the SXSW official camera badge, but took most of my photos and quick videos using my iPhone.

So what does that all mean? Don’t plan? No, what it means is be flexible and open to “the moment”.

For me, SXSW turned out to be even more of a sensory overload than my recent attendance at CES – Something is happening, literally on every corner and in every business establishment from E. Cesar Chavez Street up through 11th where the State Capitol building is. I’d be remiss if I didn’t specifically call out 6th Street though – I think I described the scene there rather well in a tweet I sent out last week:

Nowhere else have I ever seen this number of people in one general area with zero signs of negative energy.

No one was fighting, no one was arguing. I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, but a colleague of mine whom I was with has, and he said point blank, “Mardi Gras has nothing on Austin…”

Where else can you see a full on game of kickball in the middle of a major street at 11:30pm alongside with a marching band jamming in in the streets? Check out the photo gallery below.

My main function at SXSW was through a sponsorship with StrataScale; they provide robust managed and cloud server hosting solutions, I was there with them at the Interactive Trade Show talking all the “goodness of the cloud computing.”

It was great to see such a diverse mixture of companies at the trade show. It wasn’t just the hot new web startup, it wasn’t just the cloud hosting provider, and it wasn’t just the latest mobile app development team. What it was was all of that.

Also the folks working the trade show floor seemingly had their expectations in line; the idea for attending/participating in the SXSW Trade Show was not to make a sale, but rather to build and cultivate networking opportunities.

I met some of the coolest folks in the business this past week; some I talked to, shared a drink with and learned from, some I just saw a passing glimpse of in the crowd. Here’s a short list of some of the folks I am personally influenced by that I saw:

Werner VogelsAmanda CoolongKevin RoseSukhjit GhagBrian SolisJane WellsWayne SuttonRenee RiceCharnell LucichAndy WrightCali LewisJohn Pozadzides, and Marla Schulman.

After the 11-6 stint of standing on our feet in the expo hall, it was time to relax and enjoy the other festivities. That, obviously would be the parties.

I spent a lot of time in the Pepsi Max / Foursquare lot, and a lot of time at the Mashable house. Went to the Friends bar, and made my presence known at the Chuggin’ Monkey.

When the majority of the beverages are free and included with your SXSW credentials, you can understand that folks were getting extremely tipsy. But, again – no problems amongst the crowd. The security details did have to escort folks that crossed the line from intoxicated to blatantly drunk, but no issues amongst the crowd – my hat tip to all of the coordination and the positive atmosphere that was enjoyed by all attendees.

Next year, I’ll be back. I’ll be better prepared for the long days and even longer nights. But, I’ll have a much better understanding and expectation of what I plan to get from the event. I’ll still look to capture as much audio and video for blog posts, but I’ll not be consumed and overly burdened if I don’t get as much work done and instead spend much more of my time networking.

Were you in Austin for SXSW? If so, what was your experience? Did you get to see and do all that you wanted to?

– Photo Gallery –

James Hickshttp://about.me/jameshicks
James is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of HicksNewMedia, a Digital Publishing and Technology Consulting team providing effective and relevant solutions to individuals and businesses looking to more effective utilize the social interweb. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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  1. Hi James! Nice wrap up. Seems like you really got the spirit of the event. A lot is on the learning, but most of it is in the connecting. It's such a great and rare opportunity to have so many people in one place who are thinking about and doing things with tech/web 2.0/social media, etc.. you really have to take advantage of the face to face time. Glad I saw you even if it was only for a few minutes! Hope all is well, and thank you so much for the nice mention! Sukhjit

  2. Hi James. I'm glad we're running into each other more often now. Let's definitely get StrataScale on twicloudcomp soon. See you at the next event!

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