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Greg Swan SXSW

I’ve blogged at-length about the importance of South by Southwest and its effect on my career. I’ve reached the decade mark in attending this conference every March, and it seriously gets better every year.

This year, I was thrilled to be named to the SXSW Advisory Board and have a hand selecting sessions for the Intelligent Future track. It was so exciting to read all of the submissions and have a role in curating which would be on display across program in Austin.

In addition, I’m excited to share I’m also presenting alongside Marc Jensen, my spaceLab partner and space150’s Chief Innovation Officer.

It’s my fourth time presenting at the conference, and this one is extremely different than the others…

Links Worth Clicking:

Interview snippet:

Why should attendees prioritize your talk?
Since the PanelPicker went live, we’ve seen Tumblr launch private instant messaging, Twitter expand direct messages to more than 140 characters, and Snapchat launch new tools to enable dark social engagement. We’ve also had millions of children’s data and head shots released in a huge data leak in deep web. By March, attendees will need to be reconciling the new shift away from public social and indexed web, to considering how consumer behavior back to private channels where it all began (chat! message boards! texts!) and then beyond — into the darker, more sinister realms of the human psyche as it manifests online.

We speak opposite President Obama’s keynote. I wish him well filling his room going up Marc and I as competition.


In 2014 I curated an extensive First-timer SXSW advice from the Pros post that’s worth checking out if you’re a newbie this year. Lots of good insights there from a host of friends who attend each year. Otherwise, my must-do’s are below…

Greg’s advice for first-time SXSW attendees:

  • Seek out the smartest, weirdest, most disruptive topics and experiences you could not get back home.
  • Do not go to any of your own company or client’s sessions unless you absolutely must. It’s a wasted hour.
  • Do not go to any sessions that are essentially case studies you could read about online.
  • Do not go to any sessions where you yourself could be on the panel.
  • Do not to go any sessions with a movie, television or social media celebrity.
  • If a session sucks, get up and walk out immediately. You picked the crappy session, but you don’t have to sit there for an hour being pissed.
  • Again, seek out the smartest, weirdest, most disruptive topics and experiences you could not get back home.
  • Go to everything early, and expect to wait in line.
  • Bring battery backups for your devices.
  • Eat a big breakfast.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Bring a jacket that can tolerate rain.
  • Network like crazy. Don’t hang out with your crew from back home. Meet and befriend creatives, innovators and disrupters.
  • Eat a good dinner each night. Make dinner reservations in advance and invite strangers you meet during the day to hang out and process after the sessions wrap.
  • Spend a day when you get home processing, writing and sharing your takeaways (and formally connecting with the amazing people you met).
  • Lastly, if you aren’t willing to put in the effort for an amazing experience, stay home next year and complain about it on Twitter with everyone else. And maybe rethink your career track.

Want to hang out? Best way to hook up is text — 612-845-1020.

See you in Austin!

Google Glass Explorer Meetup 2014 SXSWThis was my eighth year attending South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) in Austin, TX, and the expectations were high.

The key theme I took away from SXSW 2013 was “Exponential Thinking, Exponential Opportunities,” and capitalizing on that thinking and opportunity, the main theme I took from SXSW this year was “Quit looking to others for the next big thing. Go make it yourself.

If you followed the media attention on this year’s SXSW closely, you surely noticed there wasn’t a breakout app or innovation this year. The whole “What’s the next Twitter?” expectation has grown tired for many of us longtime attendees, but the notion isn’t as misdirected as one may think.

The opening and closing keynote presentations indirectly addressed that expectation, plus the question of whose responsibility it is to create innovation that impacts society. But there’s a twist to the tone for addressing those questions in 2014.

You see, these kinds of events aren’t about the breakouts and newsmakers…. they are about the community that inevitably designs, builds and launches the breakouts — and the people who become the newsmakers. It’s about the community who comes together, at least once a year, to connect, share, learn and collaborate.

Opening keynote presenter and artist Austin Kleon shared Brian Eno’s concept of Scenius (genius coming from a collaboration of a group, culture or movement; a community that is critical to support all amazing ideas and big thinkers).

Closing keynote presenter and futurist Bruce Sterling told of the need to mature beyond nostalgia for the past. And as I attended sessions, met new people and experienced new interactive milestones between the opening and closing keynotes, I concluded that we should stop looking for the “next Twitter” or “next Foursquare” or “next Zuckerberg” at these events, and go make something ourselves.

Because after all, this is our scenius. This our collaborative community. This community has created great things in the past, and it will again. But only if we put the onus on ourselves.

So in the spirit of the scenius of 2014, I treated the conference differently in a number of ways:

    Lauren Melcher, Lindsi Gish, Amanda Long, Angie Gassett, Steffen Ryan, Nathan Wright, Greg Swan
  • Introduced myself to fellow attendees without mentioning what I did and where I worked, and asked the same of them. It forced us to dig deep into who we are, what we’re creating, and who we want to be.
  • Held a number of “stranger dinners,” where I invited people — those I had just met, people I know from back home I never see, and people I genuinely want to know better — to stop, have dinner, process what they heard in sessions that day, and clear the dishes to have a discussion.
  • Sought out 1:1 time with my coworkers, particularly those I see so rarely from our network, to connect, offer help and seek advice.
  • Made time apart from or in lieu of panels to attend things like the Google Glass Explorer Meetup, SXSXinspiration Meetup, and Facebook’s Politics, Government and Non-Profits Networking Meetup, taking the initiative to meet new people and foster new connections with those attending the conference officially with a badge — as well as those unofficially enjoying the non-conference events on the fringe.
  • Journaled some ideas for never-been-done-before things I want to build in the coming year.

And here are some of the favorite things we discussed as the 2014 “scenius” gathered in Austin this year:

    Greg Swan 3D Printed Bust and Face
  • You can’t fight technology’s progress. And we should work to adapt our society to leverage new technology.
  • White collar, repetitive knowledge workers will be replaced by automation, just as robots replaced blue collar, manufacturing workers.
  • No great artist or filmmaker ever referred to their works as “content.”
  • We can record the biometrics of everyone in the world in the cloud — and still have plenty of storage left for all of human history.
  • The importance of privacy, personal data and abuse from government.
  • The state of curiosity is a measure of intelligence.
  • The future of ethical programming for autonomous experiences.
  • The risk of legislators creating laws about technology they don’t understand.
  • The cultural dissonance of technology that comes from the introduction of new devices.

Pretty great topics, right? Oh, and I also got 3D scanned and printed. That was a first.

Overall, another amazing year. I came back energized and excited for what’s to come in 2014. Let’s go make something!

Full notes (via Twitter) broken out by session/topic after the jump!

Continue Reading…

Wolfram Connected Devices Project: curated list of Internet of Things


During Austin Kleone’s keynote at South by Southwest yesterday, he brought up the concept of Scenius, and it really got us talking after the presentation.

If you think about the world’s great geniuses (e.g., Einstein, DaVinci, Beethoven), many emerged from connected cultures, likeminded thinkers and an uplifting environment that helped them perfect/hone/achieve such great success.

It led me to look up this interview with Eno about the concept of Scenius.

MORE DARK THAN SHARK: Brian, could you reiterate your word “scenius” and perhaps tell us how, in times to come, we might evaluate that seed you’re trying to plant?

BRIAN ENO: So he’s asking about the word “scenius” – and I’ll expand a little bit on that word.

So, as I told you, I was an art student and, like all art students, I was encouraged to believe that there were a few great figures like Picasso and Kandinsky, Rembrandt and Giotto and so on who sort-of appeared out of nowhere and produced artistic revolution.

As I looked at art more and more, I discovered that that wasn’t really a true picture. What really happened was that there was sometimes very fertile scenes involving lots and lots of people – some of them artists, some of them collectors, some of them curators, thinkers, theorists, people who were fashionable and knew what the hip things were – all sorts of people who created a kind of ecology of talent. And out of that ecology arose some wonderful work.

The period that I was particularly interested in, ’round about the Russian revolution, shows this extremely well. So I thought that originally those few individuals who’d survived in history – in the sort-of “Great Man” theory of history – they were called “geniuses”. But what I thought was interesting was the fact that they all came out of a scene that was very fertile and very intelligent. So I came up with this word “scenius” – and scenius is the intelligence of a whole… operation or group of people. And I think that’s a more useful way to think about culture, actually. I think that – let’s forget the idea of “genius” for a little while, let’s think about the whole ecology of ideas that give rise to good new thoughts and good new work.

via Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK.

Dear SXSW first time attendee,

I’m so excited for you. The South by Southwest Interactive conference held in Austin, Texas each year can truly offer unforgettable experiences and mind-expanding takeaways. But the truth is, it can also be a big, expensive let down — if you allow it to be.

In full disclosure, this will be my eighth year in a row in attendance. I’ve presented three times and written for the SXSW World Magazine. I’m a fan, and although many have attended longer than my piddly eight years, I’ve seen a lot change since that first time. Back in 2007, real-time micromedia and location-based networking had not been adopted. Affordable smart phones did not exist. Affordable tablet computers did not exist. Facebook’s omnipresence existed only in its founder’s head. Social media – and thus social media marketing — at least as we know it today, did not exist.

Back then, personal 3D printing was laughable, personal drones were Orwellian, and Google Glass was unthinkable.
Many attendees brought laptops, although tablets were the most popular form of note taking device five years ago… that is, paper tablets that required an innovative device called a “pen” for operation. I attended panels on blogs, corporate blogs, the future of journalism and geocaching that year. I listened and took paper notes. I don’t recall us attendees spending the entire day and evening staring down at our phones reading email and social streaming updates from those back home.

Dan Rather (yes, Dan Rather) gave a meandering keynote that frustrated an audience who didn’t yet know the joy of live-tweeting criticisms while a speaker pours their heart out on stage. Instead, we listened diligently and kvetched in the hallways post-speech. Face to face. And without a permanent record of our snark logged in the time machine known as the Internet.

Corporate sponsors were numerous, but most confined their event activation to flyers in the swag bag and a 12’x20′ booth on the trade show floor. Of the marketing community, I was one of only a few asking marketing strategy questions at the end of tech-related panels. I was a fish out of water, and loved it. And I bring up how different it was eight years ago compared to now to purposefully help paint a picture of how differently the world will be eight years from today.

This is the event to get a sneak peek of that future reality.
Today Fast Company published an amazing in-depth oral history of the conference that does a tremendous job of teeing up the story and legacy of the conference on interactive, marketing and our social fabric as facilitated through technology. The event has come a long way and its leaders, speakers and connections have impacted many aspects of business, marketing and culture. That’s why 30,000 will show up this year.

And as the fanboy here, I’m quick to share that the conference has had a huge impact on my career, too. At a panel in 2008, I was an eyewitness and participant in something new we started calling a “digital backchannel” spurned by this new thing called Twitter. Wired, Robert Scoble and others linked to my post as an example of new communication possibilities through mobile and short-messaging. This is one example, and with more than 200 SXSW-tagged posts between my music blog, this blog and a now-dormant agency blog, there are too many to list.

My primary takeaway of SXSW 2013 last March was a focus on human + tech experience over social:

Social media is no longer an emerging trend. Facebook turns 10 years old next month. 10. Twitter is 7. Foursquare is almost 5. Social media is a normal method of communication and engagement in 2014. Media that is social is now mainstream, and therefore we marketers need to be thinking about what’s next, how and why… Technology empowers us and betters our lives in so many ways other than Facebook Likes and mommy blog posts (don’t get me wrong, I love a good mommy blog post). It was fantastic to see true innovation this year — ambient umbrellas that forecast the weather, replication technology to make copies of physical objects, affordable flying machines (drones), and more.

These are the kinds of experiences I take back to my work, my clients, my family each year, and — frankly — these experiences at SXSW greatly impacted my role (and responsibility!) in helping interactive and technology change the future.

In the coming week you will read articles, posts and tweets about how the SXSW conference has jumped the shark.
You will hear from long-time attendees that the event is too bulky and rife with corporate sponsorships to foster genuine connections and collaboration like the good old days. You will hear from people (who have always secretly wanted to attend but cannot) that the event is an overblown “geek spring break” where no real work happens. And you will likely perceive an expectation for the launch of the “next Twitter” or “new Foursquare,” and then share in the disappointment that there is no single killer app or platform that creates a global shockwave this March.

There is an underlying truth to all of this criticism, but I will point out many of these take-downs are coming from people who watch primetime television, listen to Top 40 music, and are probably wearing a shirt with a corporate logo on it right this very minute. Valid criticism from people looking to criticize.

Mason Cooley once said, “Hypocrisy is the outside of cynicism,” and so I have this to say in response: like everything you experience in life, you will get out what you put into it.

The conference is indeed gigantic, however. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, overstimulated and experience the fear of missing out (that dreaded FOMO). I encourage you to jump in, go with the flow, and approach the conference with a strategy for getting the most out of the experience as possible.

Here’s my advice for first-time SXSW attendees:

  • Seek out the smartest, weirdest, most disruptive topics and experiences you could not get back home.
  • Do not go to any client panels unless they are your clients and you absolutely have to.
  • Do not go to any panels that are essentially case studies you could read about online.
  • Do not go to any panels where you yourself could be on the panel.
  • Do not to go any panels with a primetime television or social media celebrity.
  • If a panel sucks, get up and walk out immediately.
  • Again, seek out the smartest, weirdest, most disruptive topics and experiences you could not get back home.
  • Go to everything early and expect to wait in line.
  • Bring battery backups for your devices.
  • Eat a big breakfast.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Bring a jacket that can tolerate rain.
  • Network like crazy. Don’t hang out with your crew from back home. Meet and befriend creatives, innovators and disrupters.
  • Spend a day when you get home processing, blogging and sharing your takeaways (and formally connecting with the amazing people you met).

If you aren’t willing to put in the effort for an amazing experience, stay home next year and complain about it on the internet with everyone else. And maybe rethink your career track.


PS: I also asked a few of my friends for their advice lists. See below!

Angie Thompson‘s Advice for SXSW Newbies:

  • If you’re not one of the lucky people to get a hotel downtown, expect that when you leave your hotel in the morning, you won’t return until the wee hours of the next. Pack and dress accordingly.
  • Login to your SXSW profile before you leave town and upload a photo for your badge. This saves a lot of time when you get down there.
  • Don’t bother taking notes during a session – you won’t be able to truly absorb it. Just jot down a few notes immediately after it ends of things you found particularly interesting and you can always search the panel hashtag afterward for all of the key quotes/points.
  • Always have a granola bar and bottle of water on hand.
  • Don’t try to squeeze too much in and don’t overplan your day. It will always change.
  • Have a back-up for any session you’re attending so you have the flexibility to leave if the first session sucks and still make use of your time.
  • Always take note of where a session is located ahead of time – some venues are a ways away and involves transportation.
  • If there is a session you absolutely want to see – go early. Chances are others are thinking the same thing.
  • FOMO is counter-productive and being consumed with it guarantees you’ll miss out.
  • Austin is amazing – take some time to get to know the city.
  • If you liked your experience at SXSW, make sure to book your hotel for next year before you leave town.

Lauren Melcher‘s Advice for SXSW Newbies:

  • Get your badge as early as possible. Airport –> hotel bag drop –> convention center badge line –> tacos/BBQ.
  • Don’t rely on conference wi-fi. Bring your own hotspot or plan to use 3G/4G devices.
  • Take lots of pictures.
  • Scour the schedule in advance and star sessions with your sxsocial account. It will sync with the mobile app, which is useful for tracking upcoming sessions, learning when something’s been canceled, and mapping travel routes.
  • Catch a Chevy (client).
  • Expect to be frustrated by the distance between sessions you want to attend. It happens.
  • Go to hands-on exhibits and off-schedule events, like the Maker Tent and Mobile Saturday by Urban Airship.
  • Register for every party and event that you hear about, so that you have options for what’s nearby when your plans inevitably change.
  • Book readings are a great place to meet specific speakers if that’s your thing – short, smaller groups, easy access.
  • Try the captain crunch-covered chicken with cole slaw in bacon waffle cone at the convention center. It’s a favorite.

Nathan T. Wright‘s Advice for SXSW Newbies:

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes: You’re going to walk everywhere: to hotels, parties, restaurants, and at least 163 loops through the Austin Convention Center, which is the size of a small city. Be good to your feet. I’m a fan of Sauconys.
  • Avoid your hometown crew: You’ll likely feel the urge to pal around with people you already know from back home. Resist this. Meet hundreds of new people instead. Divide, conquer, and report back to them later. You’ll see your local friends when you’re back home.
  • Don’t cave to elitism: Like every industry, the tech world has its share of pseudo-celebrities, primadonnas and toolbags with an inflated sense of worth. Don’t play their game. Don’t fawn over them. Don’t worry about what parties they’re at. If the line to a venue is too long, ditch it and find another one.
  • Replace one meal each day with a CLIF bar: I eat one of these each day for breakfast at SXSW. CLIF bars are packed with protein and will hold you over until lunch. Food expenses add up fast, and you can save $100-$120 by eating these instead.
  • Charge your immune system: You’re going to shake a lot of hands, swap a lot of germs, drink a lot of free drinks and ultimately get very little sleep. This is a recipe for an immune system crash on your way home (known as “South by Scurvy“.) Start boosting your immune system early and sustain it throughout the trip. Vitamin C has always worked well for me.
  • Prepare for phone death: Your smartphone battery will die quicker that you think. To keep it alive, invest in an external battery pack or snap-on case. I just picked up a Mophie Juice Pack Air for my iPhone.
  • Don’t live-tweet everything: Resist the urge to live-tweet every sentence from every panel and keynote. This will kill your phone (and you). Broadcast a few choice nuggets here and there, plus your own perspective. That’s enough.
  • Stay flexible: There are an infinite number of parties and panels to attend. Unless you’ve figured out how to clone yourself, there’s no way you can take it all in. RSVP to as many parties as you want, triple-book your panels at, then decide what you want to do at the last minute.
  • Don’t listen to “veterans” like myself: Find your own fun. Make your own path. Most of all, have a blast.

Steffen Ryan‘s Advice for SXSW Newbies

  • Use the SXSW app to save panels you want to go to, so you’re working with a shortlist. And don’t think too far ahead. I often refer to my shortlist during the session I’m at and make the call for the session I want to attend next.
  • Think about not only what you’d want to see but also what you can realistically make it to in the moment. Be okay with plans changing. Sometimes the deciding factor in which sessions you choose will be how close in proximity the next one is to where you currently are, because they reach capacity quickly.
  • Don’t try to cram in too many sessions. Although you’d be able to attend a session every hour, this would be draining and you could instead spend an hour in between walking around the open air experiences or simply just making it over to a prime session that’s a little farther away — or having a conversation with someone.
  • Take notes in an email to yourself during each session and push send before you walk out. Otherwise you’ll kick yourself trying to remember a key quote from a presenter. With Gmail you have a fully searchable archive.
  • Don’t worry about going to all the “can’t miss” parties. Yes, there are free tacos and Lone Stars, but is two hours in line really worth it? Instead go check out some of the great music Austin has to offer.
  • Be as minimal as possible, but know that what you leave with in the morning is likely what you’ll have with you all day, and probably into the evening. It’s nice to have a backpack but you might get sick of bumping into people with it at crowded events. (This doesn’t apply as much to those staying at hotels right downtown, though, so make friends with one of those people and maybe they’ll let you store your bag in their room…).
  • A light sweatshirt comes in surprisingly handy.
  • Try to attend wildly different sessions. Don’t worry if something doesn’t seem directly relevant to your job as long as it’s interesting. It’s better to be inspired than underwhelmed, and usually there will be something that turns out to be relevant after all.

Lastly, here are some of my favorite posts from my years at SXSW:

Okay, so what are your best tips and pieces of advice?

More than 1500 innovators, entrepreneurs, developers, engineers, angel investors and a handful of marketers descended on Las Vegas last week for SXSW V2V (visionary to visionary, or voice to voice, or voice to visionary, or visionaries to Vegas), bringing together creative people from all sectors to learn, think and network.

Hugh Forrest SXSW V2V

After six years attending SXSW in Austin, I was very excited to attend a more manageable and focused conference, where you could not only hit nearly every session, but you had the time and mental capacity to think, process and discuss takeaways with fellow attendees. Just like the good old days in Austin.

Here are some of my key takeaways:

  1. Embracing disruption through innovation:
    No matter what industry you name — publishing (Amazon), transportation (Uber), books (Kindle), watches (Pebble), healthcare (Google Glass), B2B, B2C — legacy companies, entrepreneurs and innovators are looking to reinvent the wheel. Unfortunately, companies built on traditional models who are resistant to change are in for a bumpy ride. But on the flip side, artists, creators and technologists are creating new business opportunities, and these big companies are acquiring them. According to the speakers throughout the conference, immigration, technology legislation, private and public investments, and connectivity will all drive or stifle this movement. Not to mention consumer adoption, but this crowd tends to believe consumers will come if the disruptive idea is great enough.
  2. Transparency Natives:
    Transparency Natives are defined as the next generation of consumers who have been raised on transparent business practices who possess full knowledge or access to information like: manufacturing conditions overseas, environmental concerns, health risks, executive scandals, etc.). It goes without saying that technology is equipping and enabling this transparency (user reviews, Wikipedia, Google). As such, it is already redefining traditional advertising and marketing strategies, which used to focus on how things should/could be, rather than magnifying how things are today.
  3. Hardware renaissance:
    Move over, apps. Building on the emerging trend highlighted at CES in January and SXSW in March, startups and entrepreneurs are continuing to focus on the importance, value and opportunity in tech innovations through hardware design. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are helping fuel innovations in hardware by providing the capital for hardware innovation up front.
  4. Future of Wearable Technology:
    Building on the hardware trend, innovators are excited about new wearable technologies like Google Glass, smart watches and fitness tracking bands. Whether it’s a focus on healthcare (teleconsultation apps reducing redundancy and improving coordination of care) to haptic feedback (using electronic current to simulate different forms of touch) to delivering on the promise of the smart watch (Pebble, Kreyos, iWatch) there is a growing focus on how these new devices will add value, talk to each other and create experiences that add value.
  5. Unplugging and Setting Up a Culture that Fosters Creativity:
    One of the benefits and challenges of starting your own company is you get to set the rules and working culture. For many start-ups, this means setting clear work/life boundaries to prevent inevitable burnout and a reduced spirit of creativity. This is a subject I’m passionate about, and it was radical to hear young entrepreneurs testify to the benefits of placing culture as a priority that drives business.

Compelling quotes from my notes:

Brian Solis at SXSW V2V

Brian Solis

  • We live in an era of “digital Darwinism,” a time when technology and society are evolving faster than the ability of many organizations to adapt.
  • Innovation begins with an idea on how to improve something that may not “be broken.”
  • All products are windows into new worlds.
  • As more people wear Google Glass, brands must consider how to architect ZMOT experiences from search to consideration to purchase to post-purchase sharing in an entirely new way.


Steve Case

  • “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, you have to go together.” -African proverb
  • Second internet revolution will be improving how we live our lives and contribute to growth that add value
  • If you want to get unemployment down, you have to go all-in on startups and entrepreneurs. Most of the Fortune 500 were started by immigrants, and most of the startups in Silicon Valley don’t come from traditional companies.
  • Europe’s economy is slowing down because they don’t have an innovative culture. Detroit is a real-time example of this. Sixty years ago, Detroit was Silicon Valley — the most innovative region when cars were the most innovative tech. And Detroit was the pride of American and envy of the world. At it’s core, today, Detroit has lost it’s innovative mojo. We need to understand that story so we’re making investments and not coasting in our own businesses and in our own communities. If we are complacent, our global competitors will eat our lunch.


Micah Baldwin

  • When was the last time your life was running at a pace you could handle?
  • We’re told to embrace failure, but we don’t fail purposefully.
  • Pick things you’re not good at; try them; fail; and figure out what you can do successfully within those parameters.
  • “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Picasso

Amy Jo Martin

  • “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” -Simon Sinek

Jeff Rosenblum (The Naked Brand Documentary):

  • Advertising should help companies be great, not just say they’re great. If you focus on behavior, you can build on magnets over megaphones.
  • “If you want to innovate from corporate culture, you have to get pretty far from corporate culture.” – Alex Bogusky

Rosa McGill

  • Build your team based on your target consumer. Companies should develop HR hiring practices that grows
  • teams who match their customer base, which will allow your business to best address their needs, interests and allow you to grow and evolve in lock-step with your audience.


Toby Daniels

  • Technology was supposed to free up time for us to spend time with our family and kids, but we’ve filled that time with mindless social media activities.
  • We have become incredibly obsessed with what could be happening over there, while being distracted from the here and now.
  • The always-on culture is: revealing new advances in language, body language and nuance, helping many overcome isolation in their physical community, fostering global collaboration and partnerships, growing our circle of concern and leading to more personalized communication. However, we tend to only share the best of who we are — a curated sense of truth (success theater), and people aren’t expressing the true nature of who we are.

Tony Hsieh at SXSW V2V

Tony Hsieh

  • Most innovation happens when you apply something outside your industry to your own.

As I said in my 5 Things That SXSW V2V Does Better than SXSW Interactive post, the caliber of the SXSW community — whether in Austin or a smaller, spin-off conference in Vegas — continues to be extremely high and unrivaled by most events. The programming has ranged from adequate to engaging. Las Vegas is actually set up for conferences. The entrepreneurial and innovative spirit is contagious in Downtown Vegas.

And although I miss the barbecue, breakfast tacos and overall Austin-style we’ve come to expect from SXSW, I will gladly come to Vegas for Year #2 of SXSW V2V.

Tony Hsieh, @zappos, giving the first ever #sxswv2v keynote.
The inaugural SXSW V2V is purposefully smaller and more focused than the legacy SXSW in Austin each March. With the focus toward innovation and startups and a smaller footprint, there are significant benefits the fledging spin-off is offering attendees this week:

  1. Intimate networking and more collisions: With only 1500 attendees, you not only could meet new people more easily, you would see them again the next day. And the next. The sponsored boxed lunches each day enabled attendees to stick around the convention hall and strike up conversation with strangers while munching generic turkey sandwiches. Of note, the Twitter buzz was also extremely manageable to track and follow. Gee, this sure reminds me of the SXSW’s I attended six and seven years ago.
  2. Accessibility of speakers and SXSW staff: Although the speaker line-up mirrored the same hit and miss quality of the big conference, it was much easier to catch high-profile speakers like Steve Case in the hallways (who by the way, was hanging out in the hallways, talking to attendees and watching sessions the past two days). The staff has also been omnipresent and highly engaged in chatting up attendees, soliciting feedback and even (gasp) enjoying the sessions themselves. Truly a unique experience for event planners.
  3. Lack of lines: No giant queues making it prohibitive to pop into a panel late or switch panels mid-session. No lines for keynotes. Plenty of chairs in most sessions. No constant line at the men’s restroom. This is indeed a smaller event, AND Vegas is set up for conferences of this caliber.
  4. Downtown Vegas: If your opening keynote is Zappos’ Tony Hsieh talking about The City as a Startup, you better get folks into the city and let them experience it firsthand. The Energy and focus around (and free shuttles to) the Downtown Project were inspiring and a real-world example of an interactive community walking the walk.
  5. Party equality: The true value of the SXSW experience extends beyond the programming and is truly centered on the community itself. Evening parties complement the programming and help facilitate the collision encounter mentioned above. This week there were no RSVP’s required, no Eventbrite tickets to manage, and no VIP area at each venue. Everyone enjoyed the same access to same parties, films and music showcases without fear of missing out (FOMO) setting in.

In short, the caliber of the SXSW community — whether in Austin or a smaller, spin-off conference in Vegas — continues to be extremely high and unrivaled by most events. The programming has ranged from adequate to engaging. Las Vegas is actually set up for conferences. The entrepreneurial and innovative spirit is contagious in Downtown Vegas. And although I miss the barbecue, breakfast tacos and overall Austin-style we’ve come to expect from SXSW, I will gladly come to Vegas for Year #2 of SXSW V2V. And you can bet I won’t miss SXSW Interactive in Austin, either.

See you there?

SXSW 2013 Roundup

March 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

Because it will never be as comprehensive as I want it to be, I finally just hit publish on my 2013 round-up over at Perfect Porridge.

SXSW 2013: Exponential Thinking, Exponential Opportunities

Angie seems to think something is going to fall on her head at any moment

Carl is tall

I found a Delorean

The plaided bearded men of Weber Shandwick

Angie’s leg

My Army (client) panel

Giant plate of cheese fries I ate entirely by myself

Me and a pinwheel

Matt Dickman amazed at my pinwheel

The epitome of SXSW

Danny and Steffen at their best

Run! Run!!

Me, Smokey the Bear and Batman

Batman and Baratunde Thurston

Batman and Hugh MacLeod

Batman and GW Bush

Batman and uhhh…this guy

Batman goes to space

Batman and uhhh…this thing

Batman and a hipster puppy

Batman and this squirrel thing