Wow, SXSW (South by South West) Interactive is over. The last 5 days have been so crazy and so amazing. I’ve been to other conferences before, but nothing has ever compared to this. It’s a conference on steroids.
The really funny thing about SXSW is that it’s not really a technology conference. The “Interactive” part was something that was added later. If you look on SXSW’s website, you can see that Interactive is the third tab, after Music and Film. If they are this amazing for tech, I can only image how amazing they are for music and film – the more established parts of the conference.
I’ve been to my share of tech conferences before. You might get one tech rock star for the whole conference, but here it was really hard to pick some of the sessions because they had so many of them, some of the sessions conflicted. I mean, how do you choose between Marissa Mayer and Matt Mullenweg? I went with my husband to the conference (he wrote a great blog post on The Best of SXSW) so at least I was able to compare notes after each session.
I love TED. I have never been able to go to a TED conference, but I’ve watched plenty of videos of speakers from their website. Word of warning: If you start watching videos on TED, you can get sucked in and spend your whole day on the site. They truly have mind expanding stuff on it. But only the elite get accepted to attend a TED conference. It’s actually free if you get accepted.
SXSW is open to everyone. It’s not free, but it’s fairly inexpensive for the magnitude of what it is. I would call it TED for the masses. Where else could you find people like Marissa Mayer (Google), Matt Mullenweg (WordPress), Barry Diller (IAC), Steve Krug (Don’t Make Me Think), Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine.TV), Guy Kawasaki, Sen. Al Franken, Paul Reubens (Actor), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Jared Spool (UIE) and Matt Cutts (Google). That’s just to name a few.
Not only was the Austin Convention Center full, sessions spilled out into the surrounding hotels. There were somewhere in the area of 40 sessions per time slot, making it nearly impossible to choose from. It’s not just big names, it’s also interesting niche sessions.
Of course, sometimes this embarrassment of riches causes problems. I had to pass on my idol Gary Vaynerchuk because there was a panel of Vegan bloggers at the same time. More on Vegans Really Rock on my Vegan blog.
I’m so happy that I just happened to fall upon this one. I’m going to need to come back again next year!