A few random observations about SXSW Interactive.
Since I live in Austin, I often take for granted the size and scope of the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference. There are essentially three conferences in one: Interactive (tech), Film, and Music. Starting last Friday, there will be tens of thousands of techies, film buffs, and music fans cycling through town. Heck, there will be close to 2,000 musical acts taking the stage over just a half of a week.
Here are a few of my observations, having been in Austin during SXSW for about 15 years.
1. The personality of the Interactive attendees is looking more and more like music attendees. Seriously, I feel kind of like a misfit with my lack of tattoos and no thick-framed glasses. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between techies and musicians.
2. Most interaction takes place on the mobile phone. With the advent of Twitter and Facebook, mobile phones are becoming more of a social crutch. When I walked into the Demand Media party last night, I’d estimate that about 25% of the people there were texting, tweeting, and updating their Facebook status instead of conversing with others. I imagine their updates were something like this: “At DemandMedia party, updating my status rather than meeting new people.”
Mobile phones are like the new cigarette. People used to smoke in bars as a social crutch; something to do. Now that they can’t smoke, they pull out their phones and act like they’re doing something really important. I’ve found myself doing this in the past, but am making an effort this year to leave it in my pocket.
3. Book your hotel early. If you ever make the trip to SXSW, book your hotel early. Like 6 months early. Many of my friends figured this out the hard way, and are staying at “hourly” hotels on the outskirts of town.
4. We need to have a domainer meetup during SXSW next year. I’m already working on an Austin meetup on a UT football weekend this year. But I think a meetup during SXSW Interactive next year makes sense given the number of domain companies in town.