Four years ago I had never even heard of South by Southwest, and now I’m on a plane heading to Austin for my 4th time attending and 3rd time speaking at the most raucous and depraved interactive technology festival on the planet. I mean that in the best way possible :)
SXSW was insanely awesome enough to select us as a featured session, and as a result we’ve been placed in a room with 2,400 seats. I haven’t the faintest idea what to expect and am completely terrified of sounding like a total ass, but hey, no turning back now!
In the past I’ve said that SXSW is never as good as the first time — and I sure as hell had a wild experience my first time. But this year I’m going to do things a bit differently: I’m not planning to go to any sessions. I’m using my time in Austin to see old friends, make new connections, enjoy the Texas BBQ and (hopefully!) warm weather, take stock of where I am in my career and where I’m excited to go next, and allow serendipity to play its role. I’ll find my way into a panel here and there when the mood strikes, or when someone grabs my arm and pulls me inside.
If this is your first SXSW, take it all in. Don’t sleep. Eat everything. Drink water in between every glass of beer (or whatever you have in there). Hand out business cards with abandon and make eye contact. You’re never going to forget this because there’s simply nothing else like it. You’re going to tell your grandkids stories about this.
There are 1600 sessions over the 5 days of the festival, and wading through the schedule takes the patience of a monk. So instead I’ve collected my recommended sessions, either because I know the speakers, because I care about the topics, or because they just sound batshit crazy enough to be worth attending.
Make sure if you see me in the distance, yell my name really loudly and then run over to give me a huge hug. But be careful of the back of my neck — it’s still pretty sensitive after seeing the sun for the first time since I was 2.
My previous SXSW Interactive sessions:
2011: Breaking Taboos: Pros Get Real About Money Matters
2009: From Freelance to Agency: Start Small, Stay Small
- I’m here at SXSW and I want to meet you! March 13, 2009 | 4 comments
- My SXSW Core Conversation: “Breaking Taboos: Pros Get Real About Money Matters” March 7, 2011 | 3 comments
- Around the World in 80 Days March 6, 2010 | 3 comments
- The UX Career Path: From Wireframes to Coaching January 17, 2014 | 12 comments
- Designing the Company, Not the Product August 15, 2012 | 4 comments