SXSW continues to deliver a whirlwind of exhibitions, brilliant panels and insightful speakers. The Flip team has been storming Austin collecting the knowledge and experiences to bring home to the MCDM. Monday was distracting and deceptively gorgeous (it was still quite chilly) and packed with adventures!
Today was Monday at SXSW and energy seemed to have dipped slightly. I’m talking about people, yes, but most noticeably about devices. People were liberally scattered along the hallway floors, sitting and leaning against the walls, resting as their devices pulled power from the ubiquitous short white cords tethering smart phones to outlets.
It was a recurring theme that followed me into the press room where I stood, cord in hand, looking vainly for a vacant outlet to recharge my sagging laptop. It was at this point that the quintessential Texan of old western movies sprang from memory to clash with the high tech ambience of SXSW.
“Might be a place over here,” drawled the Texan at my table. “Power is mighty scarce in these parts.”
And so it was. But ideas and innovation abound, and I was thrilled to have a chat with the mechanical engineer who was wearing – yes, wearing – a portable 3-D printer which, even as we conversed, was printing a green napkin ring while strapped to the man’s chest. SXSW is coming to an end for 2013, but it looks as though the ideas here will continue to bloom until we’re back in 2014.
There is so much going on at any given moment at SXSW that it can become overwhelming. No matter where you are, there’s always another panel, another party, another something which beckons, leaving you wondering if you’re in the best place.
After a few days filled with sessions and panel discussions, I had more open time on my schedule Monday. Instead of choosing between must-see panels and settling in, I hopped around a bit, sitting in on a discussion for a few minutes before checking out another panel down the hall. I also spent much of the sunny afternoon outside the convention center, getting a look at some of the events happening around SXSW. Most of these were better in theory than practice. SXSW Create turned out to be a sparsely-filled tent thrown up over the broken concrete of a dusty parking lot, although the 3D printing demonstrations were my first up-close look at that technology. Marketing parties billing “free food” often turn out to have a table with small bags of popcorn or candy (although you could probably get through the week quite easily drinking for free if that was your goal).
As with anything SXSW, everyone’s experience is different, but it doesn’t pay to regret your scheduling decisions. The thing that you’re not at often sounds great, but doesn’t always live up to expectations.
Part of what I love about SXSW is meeting people from all kinds of backgrounds and countries. Last night, while waiting in a lengthy line for (generous) free food at the Fandango party, we met a couple of guys from Finland that run a crowd sourced music production business. One of them exclaimed that his theme for the day was “No FOMO”. At first I wasn’t sure if I misunderstood his accent or that he was trying to say something else. I was relieved (and amused) to hear that NO FOMO was an acronym for no Fear of Missing Out. With so many events and presentations happening, you just have to let go of the fact that you’re not going to be able to be everywhere at once. Just enjoy the moment, and not stress out about what you can’t control. Great piece of advice.
My keynote for the day was Dennis Crowley co-founder of 4square. The future of location was the topic but it was more a of profile of 4square’s success, which was a little disappointing. They had some impressive stats on his company – over 30 million users and growing fast – but there was little in the way of crystal ball gazing. Yes, location is an integral part of how we search and I like their mission – software to make cities easier. But what I was after was some freaky predictions about future applications of location tech. What I got was another prolestization on the power of data. Ok, we get it! It’s big!
Similarly the sessions I attended on content and story over the last couple days lacked little insight beyond have a good story or narrative – well duh.
Hey – can’t just pretend its all rainbows and unicorns at SXSW in every wrap up post can we.
But generally most sessions are pretty stimulating and am having a hoot with the Flip gang.
I missed a session for the first time Monday, which was sad since I wanted to see the demonstration of Google Glass. But it allowed me to visit the trade floor. There were several interesting vendors, but the one that blew my mind–and may at some point change my world–was Duracell’s Power Mat. Four words: lithium ion magnetic induction. I don’t know what’s cooler, the fact that it exists or that I actually understand those four words. They almost-almost- got me to shell out money to take one home, but my phone isn’t quite cool enough to get the most advantage out of it so I’ll wait till next time.
As a closing note the 100 Year Starship project is awesome! I was impressed that their focus is not actually on building the starship but on building the infrastructure so that future generations will be able to build a starship.