South by Southwest Interactive 2011, Austin TX (SXSW)
I keep up with new technologies and trends by reading voraciously. Some of it is even relevant.
This year, I decided to get out of my home office and go be there, go meet people, actually have…conversations.
I know, radical, right? Probably a complete waste of time and money. Take a week off of work, put everything on hold, run up the company credit card. Get out of my comfortable workaholic man-cave and swim upstream like a deranged salmon. Scary.
Totally worth it.
South by Southwest is “spring break for geeks”. It consists of film, music, and “interactive” segments. The Interactive segment was the attraction: hundreds of sessions, keynotes, panel discussions, lounges, and meetups about technology. This is where Twitter and FourSquare happened. This is where venture capitalists gather in private parties to see secret demos of The Next Big Thing. This is where A-list bloggers go to just hang out, be seen, or in some cases, not be seen. This is where fascinating authors go to promote their new book, explain their new book, or occasionally think about creating a new book.
I decided to interview people for a blog with no purpose and no readers for several reasons, but primarily to force me to start conversations. My natural tendency would lean more towards mere observation. But this is SXSW Interactive, not SXSW Passive Observation! So I jotted down a few questions on the plane to Texas, and resolved to start as many conversations as I could politely engage.
Hook ‘Em With a Great Line
The approach would be honest: this is a new blog, it has no readers, no one knows or cares who I am, and that’s ok.
“Would you like to be interviewed for a blog with no readers?” I asked.
Everyone I asked said “Yes”.
And that is what makes SXSW so great. The people.
But SXSW Jumped the Shark!
I found it easy enough to avoid the marketing ponds and irrelevant festivities, and I’m not into the party scene. Instead, I soaked up a lot of great information, went to many informative sessions, met tons of fascinating people, and interviewed several of them. The interviews will be published just as fast as I can get them transcribed. Subscribe to the mailing list or feed in the sidebar on the right if you want to be notified when they are published.
In the Beginning…
I keep up with the world, especially the technology world, via the Internet. I travel infrequently, work primarily from my office in the basement of my house, and earn a comfortable living doing what I love: helping people improve their businesses, creating new products and technologies, designing and implementing software systems, doing technical research, writing, thinking, and providing consulting advice to clients. I am fortunate to do what I love for a living, and am blessed with a family that supports and understands this odd calling.
Out of the Garden…
But lately I’ve been thinking that I wanted to get out and actually meet some of the fascinating people that were doing great things, instead of just reading about it. I’m not talking about the famous – though I did meet a few of those, and found them to be remarkably human and fragile just like the rest of us. I’m talking about the up-and-comers, the enormously intense twenty-somethings rushing around the SXSWi sessions in between meetups, check-ins, emails, and working on laptops in corners crouched by electrical outlets.
I feel these are kindred spirits, accelerated by the tools and trends of the time. These are my (techno) peeps, and this is their interviews.
SXSWi unexpectedly provided a minor journey in self-rediscovery and personal growth, which may go into a forthcoming book. There are also several anecdotes around the interviews
that were not part of the interview itself.
Want to read about my 1st time experience at SXSWi?
Click HERE to read about my extraordinary journey.
Did you go to SXSW 2011? Did you enjoy it? Did you jump some sharks, or find new truth and purpose? Tell me what you found in the comments below!