SXSW -- one wild ride
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Visits (1106)
Chris Walden here.
Since 1987 Austin has hosted the SXSW music festival. Of course, it has moved from being all about music to become nine sleepless days of technology, film and music, drawing artists and fans from around the world. Locals think of this as the time when "you don't want to go downtown" and the venues become privatized for people with wristbands. For the rest of the world this is a hardcore look at people who are innovating in various technological and entertainment industries, and making a good showing here can make a huge difference to your future.
The SXSW experience is not like a Comdex or any other sort of "button-down" conference. It's a highly-charged atmosphere of adventure and discovery... and just as bands and filmmakers are found, technology-makers get their chance to get on the map.
This is slightly non-sequitur, but browsing around to see what sorts of things had been discovered in the past I found this blog by doniree describing iPhone apps that she discovered in Austin at SXSW 2010. Two of them that jump out are foursquare and bu.mp. One can argue that they might be fad apps that have come and gone, but they certainly did make a splash for people at the time.
What intrigues me the most about this kind of a conference is that it's not an isolated conference. It all happens right in the middle of a flood of artistic expression. As a result I see what happens at SXSW Interactive as being much more connected with the "real world" of how people work with technology. I think it's so easy at some technical conferences to forget our place in the real world and get wrapped up in the nuances. Here it's just not possible to get away from everything and everybody. You are surrounded by your target audience, your real world users. I think that this sort of controlled chaos results in a freer flow of ideas. People are just a little more primed to look at the future rather than just the next fiscal year. I like to think that after SXSW, the majority of attendees actually go back to the office and put something into motion.
I'll be reporting regularly from the conference. Part of that will be blog entries like this, but I'm also going to try to do live video broadcasts multiple times per day. I don't know if I'll get the chance to interview people or if I'll just have to share. Either way you'll enjoy watching me transform as I become further and further sleep deprived. You can find out when I'm broadcasting by following either me (cmw_osdude) or this group (sxswdw) on Twitter. I'll post and retweet when I'm about to do a broadcast. There will be archives too, so you won't have to drop what you're doing. I guess later I'll have to show you my setup for doing these broadcasts. It's kinda sweet.