I thought I would pass along a few impressions from Day One of SXSW.
This is the epic meeting of all things digital, and all things that WANT to be digital.
For many people I think the first day was pretty miserable. The weather has been horrible — cold and rainy, which delayed flights and made getting around difficult.
The line to get a badge was at least 90 minutes long at some points and it took 15 minutes to stand in line for a grilled cheese sandwich. The hotels, restaurants and transportation system is bulging at the seams. With 19,000 registrants and probably twice that many in sponsors, press and people who have just come to party, this conference has seemingly outgrown Austin.
Still, the joy of seeing friends, basking in intelligent content and the hope and excitement created by this start-up city trumps all I think. There is still nothing like the energy and excitement of the world coming together to find the and celebrate the next big thing. The sheer diversity of the experience and intellect here is inspiring.
For me, I hope to achieve two things with my SXSW experience — connect with my social media friends to explore new synergies, and take some time out to get re-energized by new ideas and perspectives.
So far it has been a hit on both counts. Just in day one I met up with many people I haven;t seen for at least a year like Jay Baer, Tom Webster, Jason Falls, Chris Brogan and Stephanie Wonderlin. I connected with some new people that I have been longing to meet like Matt Ridings, Chuck Hemann and Ann Handley. And I’m also enjoying the random connections by starting up conversations with everybody standing in line around me!
I go at such a fast pace and I don’t take enough time to soak in new ideas so this is a great opportunity for me to relax a little and think. The opening sessions were great, with an inspirational talk by Futurist Don Tapscott (google “flight of starlings” to see an amazing image of what Internet leadership looks like) and a chat between Guy Kawasaki and Vic Gundotra of Google Plus. I give Guy a lot of questions for drilling down into some of the essential questions of this platform and largely, I think the Google response failed. Vic kept sugar-coating the real issues and complaints about the platform and at one time was even booed. His responses seemed to come from a press release and this savvy SXSW crowd could not be fooled.
I ended the day making an appearance at a series of parties, which could not be dampened by the steady cold rain. A great experience was attending a celebration hosted by Silicon Valley VC giant Kleiner Perkins where I got to meet many of the leaders behind exciting start-ups lke Path, Spotify, Flipbook, and Storify. A very cool experience.
On to Day Two.