Monday, 16 March 2009

SXSW Interactive = My Outsourced R&D Dept

Coming to South By South West Interactive has been a real eye opener.

People I've met here asked did I just come to do the book signing or was it to co-present the Core Conversation with Melissa? The answer is that I came for something bigger.

Being a micro-business - and an author - I don't invest in traditional training or personal development so SXSW offers me a one-stop for topping up my intellectual capital. I've spent all my annual training budget in one go for Five Packed Days of stimulation and ideas.

Meeting new people and attending some really insightful and thought provoking sessions has really inspired me. And it's inspired me not just in the subject matter of the sessions itself but also in sharpening my mind to consider other projects and ideas in my portfolio. As a result, I'm scribbling like mad.

And 'scribbling like mad' puts me in a minority. This is the first festival/conference I have come to where the majority of delegates - literally 75% - are on their laptops, blackberries, iPhones during sessions. When I did the Core Conversation, many of our audience sat with a laptop open making notes or sharing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook. That took some getting used to, but it's what everyone does. Some people are creating mindmaps on their laptops with notes while a minority use moleskine notepad and pen. I actually went to a (great) session this morning called 'Presenting Straight To The Brain' where the whole notion of this ever-present constant backchannel of communication and interaction was discussed by the panel. And the consensus seemed to be there are no rules, so long as delegates are getting value, and taking something behaviour-changing away from the session, it doesn't matter what currency of note-taking or habit of device operation they are engaged with.

So I may be a dinosaur in using my notepad for notes but I am getting tons of value - SXSW is my outsourced R&D Department. What I am soaking up here will benefit my business, my clients, my ideas, my books, everything. Which is all good but I feel like I need a holiday when I get back...

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