I had a great time at SXSW:Interactive 2009 and I think going back next year is a definite. I’m no party goer like some of my other Louisville comrades, but I did get to meet a lot of people and get a great pulse on where all things interactive and social media-esque are going.
I do have a few notes to share though:
- Holy crap, you have to walk a lot. Especially if you’re on the other side of the bridge from downtown. On the plus side, I had lunch with a bat in the hotel and got to check out the SoCo (Southern Congress) side of town. Which means I got to see Leslie Cochran — the link speaks for itself.
- How to talk to programmers and the developer/designer divide are big topics to be solved. Katy Miller and I took part in a core conversation that turned into a complaint-fest. So after saying our peace about how we approach the topic, we ditched out. However, we impressed several people apparently, because we were sought out for additional comments for the next several days!
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a still a big “huh?” to a lot of people, as well as being a dirty word to others. I had a great session that went over everything CurrentMarketing already preaches, and learned a bit here and there as well.
- Tony Hsieh is an awesome, humble speaker. He talks the talk and walks the walk of Zappos culture and his presence on stage isn’t dominating, it is subdued and personable. Gave us plenty to think about concerning our own culture. Always great to see how the big boys do it.
- A few too many of the panels I attended were more on the salesy side (I’m looking at you Adobe and Hulu). But overall I’d say 75% of the sessions I attended were either reinforcing what I already knew/thought or gave me plenty to think about for days after.
- iPhone development appears as I had surmised from looking at the outside: painful. I sat in on a iPhone programming for web developers (like me) session and came away with lots of “We don’t know why you have to do X” and “Yeah, it is confusing, but you sometimes have to do Y“. That and Objective-C is ugly. The Interface Builder is sweet though.
- There is plenty of free beer to be had. Nothing much more to say about that. Just lots of free, beautiful beer.
- Giveaways were a big thing. Both Zappos and Adobe had similar Match 5 Cards type of games. And in one session, Adobe gave away a Master Collection of their suite of software. Plus, I came home with about 10 new tshirts, not all of which fit me, but still.
- The Austin Convention Center was designed by a madman. You can take an escalator from the 1st to the 3rd floor, but if you want to get to the 4th floor you have to go to a completely different escalator on the other side of the building — and it doesn’t connect to the 3rd floor. One SXSW volunteer tried to convince me that I was already on the 4th floor, not the 3rd, when I went asking for directions.
- And finally: SXSW Interactive is the place to be to stay on top of the curve and to check signals that you’re going in the right direction. It is also the place to be to see a bunch of social media nerds getting drunk and socializing outside of Twitter and Facebook, their natural habitat.