If you work on the web, you probably already know all about South by Southwest. If you don’t, it’s a super-mega media festival that consists of 3 back-to-back conferences: music, film & interactive. The interactive portion is often touted as the mecca of web design & interactive media conferences. I remember hearing about and wishing I could attend the conference as early as 2004. In 2007, I attended for the first time and the experience far exceeded all of the expectations I had. As a web designer, many of my closest friends and most influential mentors were people I only knew from websites. The best thing, by far, about SXSW 2007 was getting to meet those people in person. Not just to hear them speak, but to go out for lunch with, bowl against, or throw red shells at them. For one week in Austin, the “social network” that I knew of as the web design community was no longer a metaphor.
I attended my second SXSWi last year. The experience was just as great, but two factors made it very different: I was speaking at the conference & I had broken my hand a few days before I left. Getting to speak was an exciting prospect, but it didn’t turn out quite the way I expected. My talk was on Friday at 2pm and my early morning flight to Austin was canceled. There was another flight leaving at the same time for nearby San Antonio and I met a stranger at the airport who offered to split a one-way car rental to Austin. While that opportunity allowed me to avoid missing my own talk, I barely arrived in time to check-in and run to the stage. I would have liked to blog about that whole story and everything I did while I was at SXSW that year, but having a big orange cast on my hand made typing fairly impossible. I still managed to have a great time, meet lots of new people and take a bunch of pictures.
It’s hard to believe that I’ll be taking off for my third consecutive SXSWi in just a few days. I’ve been invited to talk about my book, and I’m pretty confident that I’ll do a better job presenting this year – assuming my flight isn’t canceled. For those of you who won’t be attending, you can follow the adventure on Twitter, and predict where I’ll be headed to next by checking out my public schedule. For those of you who will be there, I look forward to meeting you! Be sure to ask me for buttons and stop by my book reading for a chance to win a copy of The Principles of Beautiful Web Design.