I’ve attended SXSW Interactive every year now since 2007 and I’ve already booked my hotel room for March of 2010. Is it because it’s the biggest conference of it’s kind? Not really. Because I like to use my vacation time to learn new web skillz? Uh, no. It’s because of the people! Having “grown up” as a web designer reading forums and blogs, I had a large network of friends that I had never met in person. My wife lovingly refers to these people as “Jason’s fake internet friends”. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of those people at SXSW and making new friends that are passionate about the web is what really keeps me going back.
After returning from my 2nd trip to SXSW, I started wishing I could bring that group knowledge and sense of community home with me to Columbia. So in May of 2008 a few of us got together and started talking about forming a Refresh group. There were a handful of agencies and corporations here that did web stuff, but there was little (if any) communication between them. After little more than a year, the steady growth of Refresh Columbia, the formation of other user groups in town, and the collaboration between those groups to put together http://convergesc.org in June have really transformed this community. There are strong connections between individuals with a wide variety of talent and a growing connection between the user groups and the colleges/universities here.
It comes full circle…
SXSW inspired me to form a local group, so wouldn’t it be great to have a panel at SXSW to help other people do the same in their own cities? Gene Crawford, Jay Barry, Greg Lunn and I plan to do just that. We’ve submitted a panel idea for SXSW 2010 titled: Refresh 101: Kick-Start Your Local Web Community. Our thought is that if we could make the kind of impact we did here in Columbia, anyone can do the same, and that’s what we hope to encourage.
We need Your Vote!
Of the 2,210 panels that have been submitted for this year’s interactive festival, only 300 or so will be selected. Public voting plays a large role in deciding which panels make the cut, and anyone can create an account and vote. Whether you plan to attend SXSW or not, please visit our panel page and vote for us.
I’ll be attending this year’s conference regardless of whether or not I’m speaking, so if you’re planning to go, please leave a comment and let me know. As I said above, I always enjoy meeting other people who are as passionate about the web as I am. Thanks!