Right, here goes. Hope you don’t mind the stream of conciousness..
Kicking off with the biggest frustration – the content at SXSW just isn’t pitched quite right for me. Obviously there’s a lot of tech stuff which isn’t relavant – and the more expansive, ideas based content was often just not up to scratch in my opinion.
Saying that, there were some lovely bits and pieces:
- Gary Vaynerchuk was the best session I went to bar nothing. A brilliant, interactive and impassioned manifesto for how to treat customers. Totally inspiring.
- Design fiction was fascinating – using interactive theatre to design products and services.
- The improv comedy one was also very good (although oversubscribed) and has inspired me to start this when I get home.
- The awards ceremony – lots of inspiring projects and a bunch of interesting people (although the warm up acts were really crap).
I realise now that what everyone says is that SXSW is for the networking. However – you have to be a bit more tactical than at other events. Because there are 10s of thousands of people, serendipitous “starting off a chat in the line for a sandwich” style networking really doesn’t work. I always seem to end up talking to a CSS coder from North Dakota. Nice for a chat, but we’re probably not going to work together again.
What I think work well are smaller, more facilitated sessions. I met the most useful people in an hour at the UK Trade Mission stand than at any other point. The Great British Breakfast is also good for this.
It’d be great if the UK delegations could organise more of this stuff, where it’s likely that everyone you’ll meet will have some relevance – otherwise it can be a bit frustrating.
Saying that, I met loads of useful people and it made the trip totally worth it just on that basis.
SXSW is just knackering. Content all day followed by drinking and networking in the evening for five days solid takes it out of you.
We all stayed together in one big house, and on reflection, I really could have done with my own room. By four days in I was really feeling a bit like I needed a bit of space! Good tip for next year -make sure you have somewhere where you can go for a bit of quiet time.
The beanbags at the back of the Games arcade did the job for me on the Monday afternoon..
What I really liked
It’s invaluable having a week away with some great people, without any work and just having time to think about ideas and talk to people. SXSW is unique in this respect, and can’t be beaten.
Also, I have a particular project I’m pushing forward at the moment.. I met some great people who I’m going to work with on it, and possibly found half the investment for the project while out there. I also met a bunch of other really good people and spent more time with some good people that I already know (just as important…)
It was great picking up the Best Game award on behalf of Six to Start, and this provided a few useful networking opportunities.
I still think it’s worth making sure that year on year we don’t just keep going to SXSW because of all the hype around it. If it gets too much bigger I think it might become the victim of its own success, and there may be other events which start becoming just as important.
Ok, so what’s going to change now I’m back?
- I’m not making enough stuff. One of my SXSW take homes is just to spend more time actually getting creative things done
- Do some improv comedy courses.
- Go to smaller, more focussed events where serendipitous networking can happen more easily.
There are probably a hundred more subconcious things that’ll change now I’m back, but these make a good start.
Thank you so much to everyone at the Arts Council and Germination for sorting this all out.
The organisation was absolutely flawless, and it’s great that you guys are supporting us UK creative folks in doing stuff like this.
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