Interesting day today--it's the last day of the Interactive festival, the first day of the Music festival and St. Patrick's Day. Busy.
And somehow, I forgot that last tidbit and didn't pack anything green for the trip. I claimed that the green neckband on my festival pass counted. Lame, I know.
Lots of folks left yesterday, and even more today. Still plenty of people around, but the energy was considerable less frenetic. People are tired and more focused on the content today.
1) Like many others I talked with, I'm a little disappointed that the content is uneven. Some panels are really good, in-depth and useful. Those are like an ice-cold glass of iced tea on a hot summer day.
2) Many panels have good speakers but just don't go deep enough into the material to be useful for the type of people at this conference. This is not a beginners conference. If you're here, it's because you're serious about interactive, gaming or social media.
The material should reflect the talent level of the people here. A lot of what I saw was pretty basic. I'll recap the 'winners' tomorrow. I've left feedback on the SXSW site for the other panels, so I don't feel a need to call anybody out in public. I'm sure there are a lot of backstories to some panels that I don't know about.
3) The worst is the bait-and-switch with panel titles, which is more common than it should be. I was in three sessions where the title was very provocative, but the moderators either never lived up to the title, or worse, asked a very specific question in the title and didn't answer it. Or led to the conclusion that the question is unanswerable right now.
Random conversations with folks indicated this was a more widespread problem than you would think. So, here's a note to anyone ever presenting at a conference:
If you've got the moxie to create a really provocative title for your panel, then BACK IT UP WITH A KICK-ASS SESSION.
But let's not be a hater. There were a LOT of really good things today.
1) Connections! I hung out with @BryanPerson quite a bit today and met a lot of people. Seems like Bryan knows everyone. We had breakfast with the @SouthwestAir emerging media team (including this red-headed leprachaun). They are doing some very cool things with social media and have a great culture there. I got a few good ideas from them. :-)
Bryan had a list of like, a gazillion people to meet during the 5 days of the conference, and at the end of today, he proudly showed me that he had met all but one. (note to self for next year: have a plan)
Bryan doesn't look like a schmoozer, but I tell you, he's got those Boy Scout good looks and is a charming guy. No wonder he won an award as one of the top 25 Social Media professionals in Texas this year. (not to mention he picked up the tab for breakfast, which makes him VERY socialble, in my book)
2) I also met @CarriBugbee who totally RAWKED THE HOUSE in her panel about being one of the 'voices' behind the Mad Men Twitter characters. (and I even got her autograph!) Didn't get to sing karaoke with her, though. Maybe next time.
3) Got my second free meal of the day meeting (I still take a starving-artist's delight at getting free meals, what can I say?) with @withoutayard who not only is a former Austin local with a LOT of knowledge of the music scene, but is also a great promoter for Toronto as a travel destination. It's now high on my list of places to visit.
4) Met too many other people in casual conversations to list. Random strangers seemed more accessible to chat with today. Lots of ruminating on the conference today, which I will summarize tomorrow. Bryan and I will be getting together to recap and brainstorm more on some cool takeaway ideas we had today.
We both found some inspiration during the conference, and suffice it to say that I learned a lot, had a good time and would definitely recommend others to come here.
5) And of course, I have to give a shout out to my house mate Bruce, his awesome dog Rosie, and Coco Ono, who became my cat away from home. It's been pretty cool living like a local away from the downtown party scene and not out of a hotel.
I'll be back, Austin. Thanks for a good time! :-)