My inaugural experience at SxSW Interactive can best be described as… aggressive. I drank aggressively, learned aggressively, ate aggressively and socialized aggressively. I really can’t wrap the appropriate words around this experience to do it justice, so I won’t even try (plus, I’m so horrendously tired that I’m giving myself a “pass” on that one).
I had two key goals for this trip: 1) to be a sponge and soak up as much as I can about what’s emerging in this industry (critical to staying mentally sharp!); 2) to throw my Type A Planner personality out the window and go with the damn flow for once.
I attended more sessions than I expected I would (I was told that I’d be lucky to make it to two or three) and live tweeted the hell out of each of them (which, interestingly, resulted in a slew of random post-session meet-ups because all the snarky realists in each session wanted to booze in good company and exchange thoughts on the content). I promised a lot of peeps that I’d aggregate my “learnings” here for anyone who couldn’t make it to the conference… and I’ll get to that in a moment.
But first, a taste of what happens when you go with the flow and allow your day to be shaped by random meet-ups and parties. I present to you, my
Top 6 Moments of Social Hilarity at SxSWi 2011
6) A love affair is born. An impromptu rendezvous with sassy pants Anna O’Brien resulted in a trip to Amy’s Ice Cream. Just walking into the place made me nervous and sweaty. People: I. Do. Not. Like. Ice cream! But… I tried it (helped that the CoTweet party prior had gotten me sufficiently buzzed). And ENJOYED it! Amy’s melted my black heart.
5) Monish hails a pedicab (er, sort of). Pedicab driver dings bell, yells “Pedicab rides!” and keeps pedaling. Monish half-skips after the cab with one finger raised delicately in the air, saying, in a barely audible expression of timidity, “Sure. I’ll take one.” Pedicab ignores Monish and keeps pedaling. This continues for 1/8 of a mile. I laugh and do not help Monish. And almost pee myself.
4) Audio Runner makes panties wet. At the Klout Krib, a band called Audio Runner played a short set of their original music. They are a fantastic mash-up of hard rock, dance and techno. The band writes their own music and distributes it free of charge via social channels. I was so bummed that I couldn’t stay in Austin for any of the music portion of Sx, so this was a very nice treat. And there was not a dry seat in the Krib.
3) Carolyn gets awkward with Joe Fernandez (surprise). Again at the Klout Krib, I tracked down Joe Fernandez to say Hi. I’m by no means a “networker,” (love this post by Sarah Storer on the topic). But I just dig what Klout is doing on the subject of influence and Joe and I have tweeted back and forth occasionally. So I approach him, stick out my hand and tipsily declare, “Hi my name is Carolyn Maul and my Klout score is 57.” After the initial awkwardness, we actually had a great time talking & hanging out. Dude is nerd-cool.
2) Carolyn gets spanked by the Hootsuite owl. K, ‘nuff said about that one.
1) Taxi gets violently humped. Stumbling home from the Blackberry party, some dude getting into a cab yelled to all of Congress, “I’m f*cking this car!” And then proceeded to hump the open door, to the point that the entire taxi was quivering like a Shake Weight. Onlookers watched in astonishment, yelling thinks like, “Yeah! You f*ck that car!” while the poor cab was publicly violated for a full 5 minutes. Hello, random.
I wouldn’t have enjoyed such a delicious dose of random joviality had I tried to stick to a schedule, or focus solely on attending sessions, or been on a continual stalk-fest of the industry’s movers & shakers to try and promote my latest startup. Sometimes, you just have to let shit happen and “choose your own adventure” as you stumble along the journey.
That said, it’s now time for the intellectual portion of our program…
Big conversation topics this year:
- Location: what’s next? What’s the utility for consumers?
- Influence: how do you refine current de facto standards to measure beyond superficial indicators of popularity?
- Gaming: applying game mechanics to ALL aspects of digital marketing.
Remember Cliff’s Notes? Well, I’ve got Carolyn’s Notes.
I’ve created a PDF quick sheet from each session that includes: key takeaways, my live tweets and the session’s hash tag (in case you’d like to read all of the live tweets). Hope this is helpful for those of you who weren’t able to make it down this year!