After five days, South by Southwest Interactive is over. The crowds at the Austin Convention Center have changed from the gadget-toting tech crowd to the guitar-carrying, tattooed crowd for the Music portion of the event.
Somewhere around 30,000 people attended the South by Southwest Interactive, including our Flip the Media team. Here are our final thoughts from Austin before heading back to Seattle.
Bizzy Schorr: Of course, on the last day, I discover the best place to eat lunch – as long as you can get there before 1:30 p.m. Best. Crepes. Ever! I also decided that the Austin weather is bipolar. I can handle rain, snow, sun, and hail all on the same day. What I can’t handle is the temperature fluctuating over a range of 30 degrees in a 12 hour period! Multiple times!
On a more serious note I was very worried after a panel this morning when a geneticist presented some really exciting activity in the genotyping space and then admitted that she and her colleagues have no communication strategy – or plans to develop one – to help guide public discussion about these developments. Without establishing a proper framework, that could get really ugly really fast!
Daimon Eklund: The marketing aspect of SXSW is massive. Almost everywhere you go in downtown Austin signs, flyers and guerrilla marketing teams try to grab your attention for some brand or product. Ground zero for this is the Austin Convention Center itself and the SXSW trade show. There is some cool stuff there, but after walking through it for a few minutes all the lights and colors and sounds and pitches and competing ploys became too much.
It’s more subtle in the panel discussions themselves, but it doesn’t hurt to remember that everyone, no matter how good the message, is pitching their own point of view. There are a lot of great ideas to be found at SXSW, but it pays to examine them closely, and make sure they hold up in a critical light outside of the panel room.
My official SXSW experience ended on a much lighter note, and some marketing I didn’t mind being exposed to. IFC sponsored a panel of comedians who have or are developing shows on the network – Fred Armisen, Marc Maron, Scott Aukerman and Chris Gethard – to talk about how to transition from alternative comedy to television. Self-serving, sure, but also a lot of fun, with even some serious discussion about how media fragmentation has, in some ways, made it easier to keep a unique voice even when transitioning to more mass media.
Also, Armisen repeatedly hijacked the panel, going on lengthy riffs of regional accent impersonations. Including a back-and-forth with a questioner in Spanish, mimicking various Latin American accents. A light finish was welcome after five days of heavy discussions about the future of media and technology.
Patrick Doherty: I’ve been waiting all week for this! Fellow Aussie Nick Cave of the Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds had a panel Tuesday morning. One of Australia’s best songwriters, Nick is also a novelist, screenwriter and actor. I’m pretty sure the words digital or social media never crossed his lips. But I didn’t care – it was great to hear him talk with honesty, humor and sardonic wit about his life and career. I’ll end the gushing now. Three things I didn’t know about him – he was a choir boy, he lived in Brazil for three years and he has two sons born 10 days apart.
Thanks MCDM for another great SXSW. It was equal parts frustrating, tiring, inspiring, enlightening and loads of fun. I’ll be back!
Carolyn Higgins: The last day at SXSW was the usual experiential grab-bag – people walking past me on the street in neon spandex and 12-inch mohawks interspersed with panels that delve into serious questions, like where that ideal cross-over between the immediacy of social media and the prudence of top-flight journalism lies. It was bright sunshine, new people, and goodbyes, the intense hush of the press room and the mad dash to the airport. What a day – what a week – what a SXSW.