March 19, 2015

SXSW: To go, or not to go

WRITTEN BY: Sandy Fleischer

The following is a mostly fictional but highly probable conversation between two overtired SXSW interactive festival-goers.

They may even work at your company. Mid-flight on the third and final leg of the journey home from Austin to Toronto they have the eternal debate: To go to SXSW in 2016 or not.

INT PLANE: 36,000 FEET

Mike:

Hey, I recognize you from the Austin to Dallas leg of the flight. Sorry that my voice is so shot, but the Flaming Lips show was pretty killer. You must be heading back home from SXSW, too. I had such an amazing time over the last few days. How was your festival?

Susan:

Nice meeting you. Sounds like you had a completely different experience than me. I can’t wait to get home. If I see another piece of BBQ’d meat, wait for another shuttle, or hear about Meerkat one more time, I’m going to lose it. I even saw a scuffle over an available power outlet.

That is the first and last time I attend. Austin’s infrastructure can’t handle the number of people who descend on it, and it just seems impossible to get anything done. I mean, did you see the lineup to meet Grumpy Cat?

you need to tune out all of the white noise. The spectacle of all the startups vying to be the next breakout app, the ridiculous brand promotions, the celebrity appearances, and there was that time the hotel lost all my underwear – but those are just a backdrop.

Mike:

Sure, it’s a three-ring circus, but that’s what makes it great. I mean just yesterday, our shuttle got held up for almost an hour because of the “stop the robots” protest. Sounds like a bad thing, right? Wrong.

I ended up in a debate about the merits of adaptive vs. responsive web design with a guy on his way to host a talk about making clothes out of pineapple and mushrooms. It’s a good thing that the woman who blogs exclusively about Etsy products with goldfish patterns, and the CEO from the company making an interactive hologram of Jesus were in my corner.

Susan:

But I missed so many of the sessions that I had meticulously planned out. Too many things are happening at the same time, they’re all over the city, and there’s no travel time between the sessions. It’s just not reasonable.