Thoughts on 2008 SXSW Interactive

I’ve been extremely tardy in writing a recap post about my trip to Austin, Texas for the SXSW interactive Festival.  Suffice to say, it was an amazing experience and an event that I will be returning to in years to come.  One thing that was pretty clear about this gathering of technology, interactive, and social media thinkers is that the best content was no where near the panels.  It was everywhere else.  That was easily found in the conference halls, the parties, the back of taxicabs, and even on the plane from SFO to Austin. 

Here’s a bunch of random highlights, notes, and tidbits from my four days in Austin

It’s always good to catch up with old friends and  acquaintances

Folks like Peter Cole (who I hadn’t seen in over 6 years), Marshall Kirkpatrick, Britt Raybould, and Scott Beale to name just a few.  I’ve been fortunate to attend a few industry events in the past year and I’m really enjoying the anticipation of attending the next gathering and connecting with familiar faces. 

Coffee with Sam Lawrence of Jive Software

There’s so many wonderful byproducts to being active on Twitter.  In my job at Stanford University, I’ve been investigating updated intranet solutions to enable improved collaboration across the enterprise and with cross functional project teams.  A few tweets while I was in Austin scored me a Sunday morning coffee meetup with Sam Lawrence of Jive software.  Sam spent an hour of his only day at SXSW showing my Jive’s flagship product, Clearspace.  Very impressive software and I can’t tell you how grateful I am that Sam was willing to take the time to walk me through it. 

Chris Brogan is the nicest guy I’ve met in this industry

Sam and I actually were having lunch a few days after SXSW and we both agreed – while working in technology, we’re hard pressed to think of a nicer guy we’ve met than Chris Brogan.  Chris and I had breakfast on the morning I left Austin and I’m looking forward to further conversations with him.

Finally got to go to a Fray event

Derek Powazek’s Fray is one of the reasons I’m in the "web industry" and I’ve always wanted to go to a Fray day.  Lucky for me, a Fray cafe was organized to coincide with SXSW and attending it was a nice change of pace from the rest of the parties held in Austin. 

The cool kids were in the Blog Haus

Seriously, I could have stayed in the Blog Haus my entire time I was at SXSW.  There were so many excellent conversations happening in there.  I can’t tell you how many times I was ready to head to the next panel, but missed it because of positive discussion taking place in the Blog Haus

"Do whatever is right in front of you"

This is the best advice I got all weekend.  Going with the flow and being open to choosing a different path is the way to maximize your time at SXSW.  With so many choice, you almost have to change your decision making process.  Optimizing your time at SXSW is like a Phish jam…best performed with less planning and more improvising.

Twitter made the SXSW experience go to 11

Expect another post on this subject in the future.  But I was so impressed about the role Twitter played at SXSW, that I returned to Stanford and wrote a proposal for integrating Twitter with the next reunion homecoming weekend.