Arrived in Austin on a cold, wet, windy day--all the locals apologize for the weather. I guess it was 80 degrees and sunny a few days ago and the forecast calls for nice weather to return over the weekend.
For now, the weather dissuades one from just walking around downtown Austin, so we're stuck indoors, which is okay cuz I want to get the vibe of SXSW Interactive and you've got to be immersed to get the feel, right?
First impressions--it's very well run event. Someone called it "Burning Man for tech geeks" and it's a little like that. No costumes, but a very large three ring circus that can be sensory overload at first glance. There's a LOT going on and it seems like you really need to be on top of your schedule here--no casual wandering around and just absorbing it.
1) I've met some interesting people so far. Ken from http://thepoint.com that has a startup that gives people a platform to connect local causes, philanthropy and activism. Talked about how to gather and activate community for offline actions--check their site out, they are doing some very righteous stuff there.
Also met Fred from Google apps--they are offering a cloud solution for businesses who don't want or can't afford to create their own IT department but might have sophisticated needs that goes beyond a small business using one computer to connect to the internet. I'll start work on a project developing a small business community when I return from SXSW, so meeting the Google folks will help me be a better resource for that community.
Had dinner with an Israeli filmmaker and we talked about marketing films/documentaries on both web and cell phone interface, and the strengths/weaknesses of those platforms, and how to utilize community and web video to support the more mainstream film & tv content. Fun brainstorm session.
Also met some folks from a local interactive agency and had a fascinating discussion on architecture, how space influences people and what that means for web design. Very esoteric and fun.
2) Texas BBQ ribs--lunch was so good (and filling!) that I didn't eat dinner.
3) My housing. I went on Craigslist and found a sublet with a local for $65 a night, instead of the $250 per night the hotels around the event are charging. I get a cool roommate (he likes to backpack to strange lands and poke around ruins) who gives me great local insight and hangouts, with a friendly dog and a cat who is as affectionate with me as my cat Cleo at home.
Plus good coffee in the morning.
4) Screen burn. They have a very cool, fun game center where you can go unwind, play some Wii, WOW, Guitar Hero and many other games. They've got a conference center decked out like a family game room for cool ambience. Will take pics tomorrow.
The Not So Good
1) Not getting into THREE sessions that I wanted to see because I was 2 minutes late and the events were full. I'm still at work while I'm here and was solving work-related problems which caused me to be a little late. So now I know to get my sessions early, but still. I paid $450 for my ticket and my expectation is that I can see the things I want to, even if it means standing room only.
2) Had an invite to the Social Media Club mixer tonight and there was a line of maybe 100 people when I got there and was told the event was already full and they would let people in one at a time, which essentially meant I wasn't going to get in.
I was there on time for that one AND I'm one of the few *paying* Professional members of Social Media Club, so I would have thought I could get in, but nooooooo.
Membership is supposed to have its privileges, but apparently not here.
3) Went to another party that seemed interesting--the Austin Museum of Digital Art was sponsoring a laptop DJ battle. 16 DJ's using only their laptop and a controller for mixing their best 3 minutes. The event started late and while the DJ's all had some good technical skills, no one was....uh....dancing.
When's the last time you were at a club with 300 or so of your new best friends with DJ's battling it out and no one was dancing? I gave it a good hour and a half, saw half the DJ's perform and didn't think it was going to get any better so I left.
Oh yeah...dunno if this is Texas or what...but the bars down here serve Pabst Blue Ribbon in a can. PBR is usually what you get when you don't want to spend the money on Miller where I come from, but I guess it's a premium beer down here.
That's it for now. Will report back tomorrow--I have a full slate of seminars and panels scheduled starting at 10 am.
...and I know that I can't be late!