Nathan’s South by Southwest 2010 recap

Back to reality.

After six nights and seven days of soaking up the South by Southwest Interactive and Film festivals in Austin, Texas, I’ve returned to Des Moines missing a pair of sunglasses, a large amount of cash, and my voice.

Those of you who know me well know that I’m very enthusiastic about the event, so there’s no need to write further about how much I love it. Let’s get straight to the highlights. (Hillary will be posting her notes soon, once she’s back from the music portion.)

It’s great to be home, but a part of me always wishes I could stay one more week. Seven days just isn’t enough. Okay, highlights!

Meeting Peeps
The sheer volume of new people you meet is incredible. Over the last week I honed my answer to “What do you do?” from “social media strategy and consulting” to just “Internet.” What really excites me is meeting the people I’ve followed on Twitter or blogs for some time and finally get the chance to say hello to. For instance: Scott Raymond, co-founder and CTO at Gowalla. (They threw an amazing party at The Belmont.) Baratunde Thurston, Web Editor at The Onion and founder of the #whiskeyfriday movement on Twitter. Natalie Villalobos from a small start-up called Google – we talked about many things and tech wasn’t one of them (love that). And getting a warm hug from Gary Vaynerchuk never, ever gets old.

Getting to Speak
This is my fifth year attending SXSW but my first year speaking. From year one (back in 2006) this has been a personal goal for me. I was humbled to moderate the panel “The State of Music Blogs in 2010″ with smarties Tessa Horehled, Greg Swan, Nicole Poulos and Jesse Ervin. I was excited and nervous, but everything went smooth. The panel’s Twitter back-channel conversation can be found here: #stateofmusicblogs. Can’t wait to do it again!

The State of Music Blogs in 2010 SXSW

The Silicon Prairie Party
This party (which Lava Row was honored to sponsor) went from packed to insane in a matter of seconds when Gary Vaynerchuk showed up for his unannounced #secretwineparty. I thought the Lanai Lounge venue was going to collapse at one point, taking the entire Internet and a lot of wine down with it. Gives a new meaning to #CrushIt, right? But the building’s structural integrity held up, and everyone had a blast. Big thanks to the Silicon Prairie crew for putting this together!


Flickr: mager

The Weather
We’ve had a brutal winter in Iowa. You can’t beat sunny skies and 74 degrees, eating chips and salsa on a patio with a cold Shiner.

Panels / Sessions
Admittedly, I attended fewer sessions this year partly due to the prep for our panel and run-ins with people who are important to me, but I also stumbled across many “fringe” events (ones not officially associated with SXSW). As the festival gets bigger and bigger, some of the more interesting talks spill out into the edges. Jay Baer has a great post about what he likes about the periphery.

I really enjoyed the presentations¬†“Dude, This Is My Car!”,¬†a discussion of future automobiles as software platforms, and danah boyd‘s keynote about social networks and evolving privacy norms.

Jeffrey Tambor’s Acting Workshop
Loved, loved, loved this. The acting workshop is an annual tradition at SXSW and I was stoked to finally get to see it – hooray for having a film badge! Jeffrey brought in two actors he hadn’t met before, had them read a scene, shattered it, made them repeat, and so on. He had both actors in tears within minutes, but this was done in a nurturing, almost parental, method. Probably the most heart-warming SXSW moment since Frank Warren’s PostSecret keynote in 2008.

Location-Based Social Networks
2010 was definitely the year of location-based social networks at SXSW. In years previous, people kept track of where their friends were at using the #SXSW hashtag on Twitter, but that became unmanageable with approximately 15,000 registered attendees. Foursquare seemed to have the critical mass, but Gowalla was winning on speed and usability. I unlocked a few SXSW-specific Foursquare badges, such as:


I can’t wait for next year.

What were your South by Southwest 2010 highlights? Chime in below!

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Posted in Blog, Conferences, Events, Social Media, Social Networks
4 comments on “Nathan’s South by Southwest 2010 recap
  1. clairecelsi says:

    Nathan, enjoyed your tweets from the event and this post. Thanks for sharing. Can you put together a presentation for SMCDSM? I think it would be a big hit!

  2. Eric says:

    As an employee of Urbandale, Iowa based Dice.com it was awesome to see the Dice sponsorship of the live Diggnation event at SXSW. Check out this video of Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht passing out Dice.com fuzzy dice http://tweetshare.com/discussion/view/2136605

  3. Eric says:

    As an employee of Urbandale, Iowa based Dice.com it was awesome to see the Dice sponsorship of the live Diggnation event at SXSW. Check out this video of Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht passing out Dice.com fuzzy dice http://tweetshare.com/discussion/view/2136605

  4. Nice write-up Patrick! Very thorough. I felt like I got a pretty good impression of what these kinds of conferences can be like just by reading this.

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