Glastonbury for Geeks

digmis South by South West (SXSW) is quite unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Here are ten things that made it unusual and amazing:

  1. The Parties
    Facebook, Google, Mashable, the list continues. Each trying to outdo the next with bands, breakdancers and DJs. With the exception of Pure Volume, perhaps…where the VIPs were separated from the regulars with chicken wire!
  2. Elevator Pitches
    Three times I left my hotel room and had already pitched Snagsta by the time I reached the lobby – now that’s an elevator pitch!
  3. Feedback
    People were only too happy to talk through your business and make constructive recommendations. Nothing quite like getting great ideas from people smarter than you that have done it all before.
  4. Content
    There was an astounding array of fascinating and relevant topics being presented and discussed on panels. At times there were up to 18 sessions on simultaneously! I only wish I could understand my notes…
  5. Serendipity
    If I learnt one thing it was say hello to EVERYBODY. One of the chaps in our party, Henry Mackintosh, helped out a panelist at the beginning of the conference he randomly met in the queue.  Bumping into her later on in the week, Henry mentioned the new service he’d just launched: twitterjobsearch. Minutes later she’d tweeted in to her 4000 followers. And then one of her followers re-tweeted it to his 30,000 followers.
  6. People
    SXSW is the place to finally meet all the people you’ve only ever ‘followed’, emailed or talked to on the phone. From Joe Shmo through to the Internet superheroes. I got to talk to Robert Scoble and a couple of the others and loved how genuine and approachable they all were. 
  7. Panels
    The debates were current and candid. With panelist challenging each other regularly and plenty of probing questions from the audience. And then there was the UnPanel (#kebab). A bunch of Brits high-jacked a room and set up an impromptu session called ‘Not Another Social Media Panel’. Less probing but more candid. Look at what happened here (though you kind of had to be there…)!
  8. iPhones
    I have never seen so many iPhones. 95% of the attendees had iPhones. Clear evidence that cutting edge mobile is currently only happening in one place.
  9. Twitter
    Despite occasionally having to endure inane micro commentary, I am now convinced of the value of this tool (if used with self-discipline!). It was used to track session topics, to contribute to panel discussions, to find people, to set up meetings, to broadcast party itineraries.
  10. BBQ
    You can’t come to Texas and not talk about BBQ. That and the rooftop bars are part of the quintessential Austin experience.

Oh…did I mention the parties already??

A big thank you to the companies that sponsored us and the people from the Digital Mission that helped organise the event.

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