Thursday, 19 August 2010

What the heck is SXSW anyway?

Those four letters: SXSW.
“What the heck is es-ex-es-double-u?”
“That’s a music festival, right?”
“I thought it was a film festival”
“Oh, that event for geeks?”

SXSW - South By South West - gets a lot of different reactions. Some consider it the ultimate geekfest and then there’s the inevitable yawns from people who are sick of seeing #sxsw on Twitter streams, especially for the week in March when people flock to the Austin Convention Center in Texas. SXSW offers an Interactive, Film and Music festival but it’s the interactive element that’s been attracting me for the last two years.

For me SXSW is an Ideas Festival. I’m not a geek, I’m an ‘ideas guy’ and that week in Texas is a mash-up between a tweet-up, TED talks and great parties rolled into one. It stimulates and inspires me. Going there isn't a complete no-brainer; a week in the US is quite a time investment and that’s before you factor in the flight from London and the hotel nights. Plus, the dates always fall on my wedding anniversary.

I’ve made some great connections at SXSW, meeting people I’ve connected with on Twitter and also making a stack of brand new connections. People like Espree Devora who I nearly met in 2009 (long story), and caught up with in 2010 (watch my video interview with her here). So when Espree said she’d pull together a panel idea for 2011 I said I’d love to be part of it. The rest of the panel line-up is Shane Mac, Giang Biscan (two guys I haven’t met yet) plus Lewis Howes (who I have). Our idea - which is now on the panel picker for the public vote - will see us share our experiences in business about doing it our own way. Our panel title is 'DITCH THE BOOK - Running A Business YOUR Way' and you can check it out (and vote for it) here.

At SXSW this year I met Ingrid Vanderveldt for a video interview (I’d connected with her producer  Lyn Graft about two years ago - it took us a while to hook up :) ). in the video ‘SXSW Interactive On The Road’ she asks me what the event means to me. Check it out below:

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