Another SXSW in the books – an exhausting yet exhilarating 10 days of panels, featured speakers, obligatory Tweeting, strong coffee, tradeshow booths, BBQ and breakfast tacos, day parties and a serious lack of sleep! For a conference originally steeped in music and film since 1987, it’s safe to say that SXSW Interactive has become the belle of the ball in Austin during mid-March – more than 25,000 attendees strong.
What started as a small confab for the tech savvy and digitally inclined, SXSW Interactive has morphed into a schizophrenic five days of sensory overload. The conference thrives on having 20 or more interesting-sounding panels, mentor sessions, workshops and core conversations happening at any given time – combined with dozens of apps designed to organize it all. Although many of the panels had a distinct ‘101’ feel to them and a few panelists appeared unprepared, there were a few diamonds in the rough that left behind some interesting and possibly compelling residue. Some key takeaways:
2. Much as location-based apps Foursquare and Gowalla were all the rage at SXSW 2010, this year group texting took center stage. New companies GroupMe, Beluga and Yobongo seemed to make the most noise during the conference with parties and demonstrations throughout. This collection of services enables groups of people to participate in real-time chats on their smartphones – either through conversation or texting. And since connecting and learning seems to be the real upside of SXSW Interactive, what better test-tube for a new app or service than the dotted and hyperactive geography of downtown Austin in the throws of technology?
3. PR and marketing agencies need to exercise flexibility in the planning process and learn to adapt to changing requirements while aligning campaign deliverables with shifting business needs – the brand and the customer needs. The days of rigid fiscal year marketing plans are long gone.
As SXSW Interactive gave way to SXSW Music on Wednesday, Austin started looking less Silicone Valley and more True Blood. The perfect weather was probably tough on the indie rock vampire set, but it suited me just perfectly. Musical highlights included:
Looking forward to SXSW 2012!