SXSW has come and gone. Unlike all the live bloggers and active tweeters, I dropped into a social media hole and decided to just lump all my posts together from the safety and comfort of my Atlanta home.
A hot topic during the conference was the quality of the conference itself. From the reactions of people that had gone in the past, I was expecting something magical and compelling. In many ways, I was underwhelmed.
The panels were incredibly hit or miss. I had maybe two that I found very interesting, two more that were compelling, most were mediocre, and a few that were only memorable for being awful.
The entire event had the air of a Potemkin Village. All the special buildings and events put together by brands like American Express, Chevrolet, CNN, Turner, Nokia and Microsoft seemed to be erected to hide the lack of real substance in this year’s event. It’s not the brand’s fault. I think they are trying just has hard as anyone else to engage with their audiences. It seems that it’s more the matter of getting too large too fast.
The question of whether I would go again is remarkably complicated. Over the course of four days, I only had one great session and went to only one great party.
The biggest bright spot was all the interesting people I met. The joy of attending a cross-functional social conference is that you meet individuals who you wouldn’t normally come across. I talked to advertising reps, programmers, marketers, entrepreneurs, writers, financiers, social media managers and many more over the course of the event. That just doesn’t happen in the common industry focused events.
I felt pretty confident that I wouldn’t be back next year up until I got to the gate for the flight back to Atlanta. Out of the blue, someone recognized me from twitter. With him was some guy I randomly met in a restaurant nearly two years ago. Near us was a common colleague with a few of her friends, one of whom happened to sit next to me on the flight. Three reconnections and a new friend in what is normally a mundane event.
Looking back, that happened a lot over the course of the weekend. I think I’ll be back.
As for the panels (in quasi chronological order): Pitching Startups to Brands
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