SxSW Day 1 – A Whole Lot of Nothing

My very first day of South by Southwest started with a crepe and cappachino for breakfast. FAB! No breakfast tacos for me, I’m sticking with crepes!

Sadly, I only made it to one session today – Greg Verdino’s microMARKETING – and I got there late. For the record I think he’s a really smart guy and great storyteller, but I think SxSW is a tough place to be a speaker or attend a session to listen. I started walking to find the room 20 minutes early and still was late – this conference is big and all the sessions aren’t even in one building! The WiFi seems to be holding up, but I’m either snobby or paranoid – I bring my own mobile 4G hotspot on Sprint. Between the AT&T and Verizon phones and iPads, I at least keep a strong connection.

I am actively trying not to keep my head down staring at a phone or tablet while out and about, but see the majority of people sitting by themselves head down in conversation on their phone. Sad. Some people I walked by all day and they did nothing but clack away on iPads. Listen, I know for the most part ‘we’ all slave away on keyboards and computers, but it is possible to unplug and join the human race for a few days! (I am writing up my posts the ‘morning after’ in our hotel room – because I can’t sleep and get up way too early!)

Dave and I attemped a late lunch, and it took an hour and fourty-five minutes to get our meal (Champions across from the Austin Convention Center stinks!) so that’s why I missed all other sessions. We really only stayed in the main SxSW conference building, tomorrow we will venture out some more to venues and day events around the center. Of course we needed to hit the Screenburn tradefloor (gaming) and found some really cool social and interactive games and ideas. I hope to spend some time really hitting each booth and talking to the vendors.

As far as getting around, my feet held up well until after dinner. My brand new pair of TOMS shoes have a hole in them, I’m pretty ticked about that, but they are really comfortable. Our hotel is in the northern-most area of SxSW hotels so we drive in and park, but walk everyplace from there. Everything that I read before coming said dress comfortable, but my version of comfort looks sloppy. Maybe I’m just older than a good part of the attendees (the women anyway…) but my sense of fashion is lacking. The night time events seem to have the ladies dressed up, but in I walk looking like a bum. Oh well…

After conference closing time we wound up at the #140conf / TextPLUS party. I lasted 15 minutes. I just can’t do it. Loud, crowded, impossible to get a drink. Everyone thinks they have the next ‘killer app’ worthy of $10m in funding (my opinion on that later). No one *listens* because that would mean they need to *stop talking*. Not the party organizers fault, I get that, they mean well and provide exactly what a lot of folks want in a party. This is what I feared coming here. We haven’t met anyone at the conference, so there are no ‘smaller’ gatherings to attend. A handfull of people that I know don’t appear to want to meet up – I know a blowoff when I hear one – so Dave and I are left with a big fat zero in social options.

We ditched the big party scene and met a contact of Dave’s for drinks. Even though I’m not a developer myself, I like to listen to them talk – partly because Dave is in his element and partly because Isabella is from Quebec and has the most amazing accent. If SxSW were full of people like her and her team this conference would be amazing.

Wandering around 6th Avenue and seeing all the bars and music was fun. Loud and crowded, but fun to sightsee. We wound up at what looked to be a local crawfish haunt The Boiling Pot. Whoa was it good! The hostess was a lot of fun and the entire staff was friendly. Me… Well I had to get over my issues of touching my food while trying to eat it and the fact it still was looking at me. I knew that eating a bucket of shrimp and crawfish and a crab (WHOLE) was going to be difficult – not physically, but it really creeps me out. Try new things, right? Well I survived! If this trip is going to be a bust professionally and socially, I might as well strech out of my comfort zone and try new things, especially anything ‘local.’

Day 2 of South by Southwest will hopefully bring more connections and sessions. Fingers crossed we meet some interesting people to have a few drinks and great conversations with tonight.

Saw :

  • Greg Verdino
  • Brad P. From NJ (title of this post inspired by Brad)
  • David Spinks
  • Dave from Edelman
  • Jon Radian 6
  • @Ohdoctah
  • @Thatdrew
  • Jeff Pulver
  • Isabella / Quebec
  • Jared Bienz