It’s been a few weeks since I got back from Texas and I’ve finally had a chance to put into words my experiences at this year’s annual ‘geek summer camp’.
This time around, unlike previous years that I’ve attended SXSWi, I had no plans beyond my own panel which fortunately was on the first day of the conference. Being my first large scale talk, and at SXSW of all places, I was anxious about it right until I met up with my co-panelist, Chris Heuer, in the green room before the session.
Chris, being a veteran SXSW speaker, put me at ease immediately…he’s awesome like that.
It was also exciting to find out as we made our way to our panel room that it was full and people were actually sitting on the floor. I had no idea what to expect for our little panel topic so to hear that many people were interested in what we had to say was incredibly encouraging.
The session went very well…we were very fortunate that many of the folks that turned up were very vocal about the issues and once Chris and I got the ball rolling, the room took over. Someone joked that it turned into the Phil Donahue show as we had a queue of people that wanted to either voice their opinion, respond to someone else’s or ask a question to us and the room. There was some people that left and reading some of the comments/tweets after the fact it was mostly due to the fact that we were all over the place as far as cool kids vs suit issues. I concede that was a problem and we tried to steer things back on track but it was also interesting to see the room discuss things organically so it was hard to want to stifle the open dialogue.
It was very gratifying to me to have people come up to me in the halls of the convention centre later on (and even days later) and thank me for giving this topic a spot to be explored. Even folks that weren’t in town yet when the session was on, but knew about it and recognized me from the session description and wanted to talk about it further. This was a very new experience for me and I was thrilled that the little idea that kept me up at night last summer had grown to be this thing that people wanted to talk about. We even got interviewed by the Austin Chronicle about our session as one of the trending topics at SXSW this year.
I haven’t talked to Chris about it yet but it seems obvious to me that we should submit a followup to the session as there are plenty of things we didn’t have time to get to that we wanted to explore…not to mention the feedback we’ve gotten from people in person and online. So that’s got me excited to go back to Austin in 2011 even more now.
The rest of my time in Austin was a blur…five more days of amazing times with amazing friends…including a special trip to the Salt Lick BBQ in Drifwood, Texas:
where I got so see my pal Josh propose to his longtime girlfriend Traci:
spending time at the Social Media Clubhouse with lots of amazing people:
of course the parties that SXSW is famous for:
I even managed to get on TWIT.Live…twice!
While this SXSW didn’t see me have the photographic output I usually create (my DSLR was still in the shop post-Olympics), there was no shortage of other types of content creation while in Austin. Dave Olson and I recorded a marketing-themed podcast while on the Social Media Clubhouse bus about our experiences at SXSW and along with Kris Krug, also shot some footage out at the Clubhouse about our recent Olympic experiences which might end up in the With Glowing Hearts documentary.
It was a very special SXSW experience for me this year…in many ways surreal. Big thanks to all my friends (new and old) that helped to make it so memorable with an extra special thanks to Chris and his lovely wife Kristie who were amazingly generous to me. I’m looking forward to seeing them again soon at Northern Voice.