SXSW 2010

I wrote a long piece about why SXSW Interactive was a bit disappointing but when I read it back I got bored, so I see no reason why you should be subjected to it. Let’s compress it all to a single paragraph:

13,000 people went to SXSW Interactive. Some of the people, like me (and maybe you), have been doing this Internet stuff a long time, and spend most of their time reading and chatting and thinking about it. Many of the people have been doing this stuff for a lot less time and, really, it’s just a job to them. At any one time there could be 25 sessions taking place and it’s hard to work out which ones, if any, are about a topic you’re interested in and will be pitched at the right level. It was hard to find anything that was new, or that made me think.

There, that’s less tiresome.

There was good stuff too, just not enough of it. Design Fiction was full of future-y goodness; Clay Shirky made most other speakers look like bumbling, mumbling amateurs; Fray Cafe was a wonderful evening; Design for the Dark Side made me think about design; Maps, Books, Spimes, Paper was very interesting (disclosure: my friends).

Also, everything else about the trip was wonderful. It was lovely to hang out with nice folk in the sun, explore Austin more than I have on previous visits, and meet one or two new people. Holiday Inn Town Lake was OK and the short walk along the lake to downtown was wonderful in the morning. Breakfast at Jo’s, drinks at Halcyon any other time, and lots of tasty food elsewhere. I didn’t go to any big parties, but did bunk off one afternoon and played frisbee in the sun with Russell, Tom and Chris.

And finally, a big thank you to James, who made a few of us these lovely books as a guide to Austin and SXSW. It was incredibly useful to have the schedule in printed form, in a useful size, with no cluttering adverts, with space for my own calendar and notes, and all of this in advance of the event.


  • That was my suspicion, not just from this year's on-the-scene reporting, but also following the #kebab thing last year. If you feel inclined to create your own panels to fill a gap in a conference, something's up.

    (I had the sudden realisation a couple of weeks ago that there's a massive group of professional site developers whose work is pared down to a single CMS and click-click-click on cPanel. Not that I'm looking down on them, because they're very good at what they do, and that specialisation is necessary these days. But it's a very tight little box.)

    SXSW is now Webapalooza, a festival where you get to hang out, get lost, struggle to find toilets and watch from a distance unless you have the right armband. Festivals are fine for what they are. Now, where are the intimate venues?

  • Yes, and I know people always say "Go to SXSW for the parties, not the conference" but I tended to think that meant "Yeah, the conference is OK, but WOW, WOOOOH, ker-ayzyyyy parties!". But I'm not really into parties (which you also have to queue round the block to get into) and I'm not sure the conference even counts as OK (for me; I'm sure it's great for several thousand of the attendees).

    But, as an excuse to have lots of interesting and nice people in one hopefully sunny place for a few days, SXSW is good.

    That #kebab thing was a little fun but was generally just people being stupid rather than any attempt at something more in-depth and worthwhile.

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25 Mar 2010 at Twitter

On this day I was reading