I just got back from South By Southwest — or “South By” as the masses of Brits called it — a little poorer (but astonishingly not that much; the food that we did have to pay for was incredibly cheap), voiceless, and weighed down by business cards.
Some observations and other things I learned:
— This year’s Twitter was Twitter. (Yes, CNET’s Caroline McCarthy called it early, and she’s right.)
— Thanks to the constant Twittering, no one had to worry about missing anything important. Like when I was at the MobLogic.tv launch party someone got a Twitter (tweet? Twitter message? Was twittered?) that the I Can Has Cheezburger? panel was funny and giving out mini-cheeseburgers. Reason enough to attend a panel!
— Debatable about whether the SXSW panels were important to attend in the first place. Even if you missed a panel, SXSW is planning on showing videos of everything so no one really cared. Anyway, most of the real action was in the hallways or in the evenings at the parties.
— That said, if you missed Zuckerberg/Lacy you’re an idiot.
— The “snowball effect” refers to many people joining a party leaving for lunch. That makes getting into a restaurant without at least an hour’s wait nearly impossible. Somehow restaurants in Austin aren’t thrilled about multiple parties of fifteen.
— If you ever have the opportunity to drink with StumbleUpon founder Garrett Camp, by all means do it. Nicest guy in the world, generous to a fault, and has no problem buying bottle after bottle of Veuve Cliquot and sharing it with complete and undeserving acquaintances (such as myself). This is what happened at Monday’s Next New Networks Party, the owners of which should have been drinking champagne themselves: The party was two days before their announcement of a $15 million funding round.
— It’s easier to cut the long lines if you are with Caroline McCarthy, Star’s Julia Allison, or Mashable’s Pete Cashmore, such as the Gawker Media (Lifehacker, io9, Valleywag) party where the bouncer bizarrely accused everyone of having a fake id.
— Gawker’s party had tons of New Yorkers including Hype Machine’ s Anthony Volodkin and Scott Kidder (who also does work for Gawker), and Max Haot from Mogulus showed up for 36 hours, just in time for the party. From then on out he spent pretty much all his time at the conference running the Mogulus studio from the Bloghaus, one of the few places to get an Internet connection at the conference centre when WiFi inevitably stopped working.
— Apparently, some people think it’s a good icebreaker to make people give their best panda impression and then take a picture of it.
— Any festival that attracts luminaries from the New York alt-comedy world like Eugene Mirman (who emceed the Web Awards) and Mike Birbiglia, as well as Dan Maccarone from the sketch group Slightly Known People (and co-founder of Hard Candy Shell web design), plus Amazon’s (AMZN) Jeff Bezos, who just attended for fun, is worth considering.
— It was already huge this year so please don’t go next year. I worry that it will become as ridiculous as Art Basel.
— The Austin convention centre is a bizarre, massive, not easily navigable space. Next year, better shoes. And, did I mention how often the WiFi stopped working?
— I’ve been Davos and SXSW. I’d go back to SXSW first.
— Moblogic.tv’s (and formerly WallStrip’s) Lindsay Campbell wants to meet the guys behind Human Giant.
— People mainly hung out with their own cliques. New York with New York, Brit with Brit, SF with SF. The New Yorkers were by far the most fun. I have a particular soft spot for those who can spontaneously create and execute Zoolander-style dance offs, arm wrestling matches, and limbo contests — with a broom found on the floor of Danny Newman of Pocketfuzz’s party at The Pure Volume Ranch — like Dennis Crowley (Dodgeball co-founder), Alex Rainert (Dodgeball co-founder) Kevin Kearney (Hard Candy web design co-founder; Kearney designed The New York Times web site when he was at Avenue A | Razorfish), and Allison Mooney of PSFK and Fleishman-Hillard’s the Next Great Thing. Mooney took most of the contests despite landing on the muddy floor in front of a chanting crowd. Total commitment. Awaiting the inevitable YouTube footage.
In the meantime, enjoy this Flickr photo an observer posted of Mooney doing the limbo.