My Trip to the Lone Star State

In less than 72 hours I will be on my way to Austin, TX for the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. I heard you want to avoid the newb forehead stamp, it’s referred to as Southby by the veterans of SXSW, but newb is exactly what I am. For starters I have never been to Texas and more importantly never to a conference of this caliber.

When people ask me what exactly SXSW interactive is (aka my family members) I find it difficult to explain in a concise way. Most people know SXSW because of its music, its humble beginnings in 1987 and film– but the interactive portion is bigger and better than ever. There is overlap between music, film and interactive, not only with dates but with how they relate to each other too. The interactive and film portion of the conference bring together more than 32,000 tech-focused individuals.  I’ll admit I was naïve about SXSW interactive until about a year ago when I really started to focus on health communication and social media.

So what’s in store for me at SXSW? That’s a good question and the short answer is sleep depravation. SXSW Interactive discusses emerging and cutting-edge technologies through 5 days of panels discussion, expert. Yes that list of events is overwhelming. It took me an entire weekend to map out my schedule –I made multiple plans and overbooked just in case I change my mind, or they have a way to clone me while I’m out there.  I didn’t want to limit myself when the schedule is limitless, there are just so many freaking options.

Not only are the days jammed pack with session you also have to be on the lookout for the next big startup – both Twitter and FourSquare blew up at SXSW.  If that wasn’t enough there are scores of exciting networking events and parties, day and night. Some of the companies that are hosting events including, Mashable, Microsoft, frog design, Skype, Meebo, Razorfish, etc, (plus they are free- booze included).

I think I read the first timers guide at least 5 times already – I’m so excited/nervous and would like to avoid any epic disasters. I have packed my bag, downloaded the SXSW mobile app, created a SXsocial profile, and started following SXSW hashtags that are going to be used throughout the week on Twitter. I’m going to go ahead and say it, I’m good to go!

When I first started planning for this trip I was trying to attend as many sessions as possible and land a job. But after some prioritization my goal has changed, I hope to meet some interesting people, learn some new things, and have a good time.  To be honest, after writing this blog, I don’t feel as overwhelmed anymore, now I just can’t wait to get a glimpse of what is unfolding in the world of technology.