What is SxSW Supposed to BE?

This year is the first year that my company and I are able to get to the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, TX.  I’m excited to go for sure, but don’t think that the experience will be what I need it to be. I’m no stranger to attending or speaking at conferences, both in my industry and on behalf of clients, but I have attended few conferences where I actually got what I NEEDED out of it.  My fault? Partly. Sometimes it was due to a lack of a clearly defined game plan, sometimes it was just that I was attending the wrong conferences.  What I need out of SxSW and what it appears from the outside the conference has become are 180 degrees from each other.  So why am I going at all?  Because I HAVE to.  Everyone that I know that has ever attended tells me SxSW is a game-changer.

Why? Why do I have to go to SxSW when all it seems to be is about going to parties and hanging out with the ‘right’ people? Hey, I’m all for a party, but I’m not attending SxSW just to party, I need to make the *right* connections and meet the *right* people for very specific business goals.  How that gets done in a sea of 15,000 attendees is beyond me.  Yes, I understand there is the whole laid back kumbaya vibe about SxSW, but as harsh as this sounds, I can’t spend my entire week hanging around with people that don’t fit into my goals, not matter how cool or fun they are to hang with.  I suppose you need to kiss a lot of frogs to get to a prince.

What worries me most is the apparent turn for the worse SxSW Interactive seems to have taken over the past few years.  Rude people, pushy people. Low on tech, high on douchebaggery.  Unprofessionalism.  Disrespectfulness to the locals and to Austin itself.  I want this trip to be fun, but I need it to be productive. [Read more…]