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South By Southwest Interactive 2009

by Ricky Lam on April 1, 2009

South By Southwest (SXSW) interactive is a five day festival of panels, conversations, readings and keynote discussions about online technologies and trends. The festival is geared towards web developers, designers, bloggers and media entrepreneurs. SXSW takes place every year in Austin, Texas and the festival includes music and film elements as well. SXSW Interactive 2009 also includes the Web Awards and a Trade Show. was alive and kicking at this festival, visiting panels focusing on emerging mobile technologies, building online communities, upcoming trends in web design and adapting services to an ever demanding customer base.

With the infusion of the iPhone and Android and the increasing capabilities of smartphones such as Blackberries, one of the primary themes at SXSW was the effect that mobile technologies would have in a way we use the internet. In a talk (“Emerging Mobile Technologies”) featuring Ryan Stewart of Adobe and Rob Gonda of Sapient Technologies, one could sense that mobile web navigation is going to become increasingly popular and companies such as will have to focus on developing websites that are both suitable for desktop and mobile platforms. Some great ideas for smartphone applications were also displayed, such as Augmented Reality Navigation, as displayed here:

One of the ongoing themes of SXSW Interactive was the term “Social Media”. With all the blogging, microblogging, twittering and user driven communities on the internet, the consumer has more power then ever to have it’s voice heard. I will give you an example from SXSW. While dining at a local barbecue restaurant called “Stubb’s BBQ” two normal looking guys overheard the staff at the restaurant complaining about SXSW visitors and then giving out poor service. Normally, that doesn’t really matter much. However, one of those two guys was very popular on the social networking site Twitter. Immediately, he posted about this information, and since he has over 350 thousand followers on his account, the word that Stubbs BBQ was giving poor service to SXSW goers spread like wildfire and subsequently, most people in the lineup for the restaurant left. This is an extreme case of the power of user communities, but it is a good cautionary tale. With this new environment, companies looking to succeed in must focus on quality customer service and support more than ever before. This is something that intends to do.

Finally, what is a blog post without a list? This was our first time at SXSW and we definitely learned a few things about the festival, here are some tips for SXSW 2010

  • Pace yourself – all the free food and alcohol is nice, going home at 10 pm because you have drank 10 Lone Star tall boys is not. Pace yourself with the drinks and attend as many parties as you can.
  • Talk to everyone and bring business cards. This should go without saying, but just go up to random people and talk to them, everyone is here to network and have a good time. You never know who you are going to meet. (We met Jeffrey Tambor from Arrested Development!)
  • Bring your chargers. The Austin convention center has electrical outlets everywhere, so bring your chargers so that your laptop/Blackberry/iPhone never runs out of juice. If you want to be one of the cool kids, bring a Macbook.
  • Book a hotel in the downtown core. Sure, it’s tempting to save a few dollars and book outside the downtown core, but trust me, that late afternoon nap is a great way to ensure you spend the whole night out having a good time.
  • Use twitter. Twitter was the de-facto web tool used by everyone at SXSW. It is a quick way to get answers to questions and also a great way to find out about unexpected goodies (like free quesadillas at the Adobe Day Stage Cafe©). However, SXSW 2010 is one year away and maybe something else will come out by then.

South By Southwest Interactive is a great festival that features some great talks, a lot of interesting information and definitely some spectacular parties. I highly recommend it to anyone with any interest in internet technologies and consumer trends.

Ricky Lam
Software Developer
SoftCom Technology Consulting Inc.

Related posts:

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  2. SXSW Primer – Top 6 Things to Pack for SXSW Interactive 2011
  3. Does SXSWI
  4. 5 Things I learned from SXSW Interactive 2011
  5. SXSW Interactive Day 1: WordPress


YouDontKnowMe March 17, 2010 at 7:35 PM

Agree with the business cards part. It’s easy to forget about classic networking with all the high-tech solutions nowadays.

TechieWanabe April 28, 2010 at 4:24 PM

I love these types of mastermind gatherings, huge for new info and ideas!

Rusher December 30, 2010 at 11:46 AM

I remember Jeffrey Tambor from the old Larry Sanders Show. What was he doing there?

WrigleyF February 17, 2011 at 6:52 PM

And a hotel room in the downtown core is much easier to stumble back to after all those Lone Star tall boys. (“Hey now!”)

Rusher July 29, 2011 at 11:10 AM

I think I’d be stumbling after just a couple of those tall boys. (And I appreciated the “Hey now!”, WrigleyF.)

OhDonna August 18, 2011 at 8:48 AM

I thought business cards would’ve gone out of style a long time ago. It’s nice to see they’re still hanging in there.

PotsNPans September 27, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Good tip about pacing yourself with alcohol. Networking opportunities are rare, but you can drink anytime.

silkysmooth September 29, 2011 at 9:36 AM

i’m a better networker when I have alcohol in my bloodstream! you’re right that it’s easy to go overboard too fast, though.

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