So many times when expectations have been so high for an event, one is disappointed, because the real thing never lives up to the hype. SXSW Interactive did not disappoint. Despite the frustrations of long lines and being turned away from several sessions because of lack of planning, SXSWi was well worth the investment.
My Top Ten Takeaways:
10. A conference can become a movement. The ripple effect of SXSW is very obvious. One could not help but feel like something very important and world-changing was happening this week.
9. SXSWi was my first conference in quite a while as an attendee. After 13 years of running the re:create conference, it really helps to be a fly on the wall, and listen to everyone’s highs and lows. The experience will help me do a better job as our team crafts the re:create experience.
8. Math can be sexy (sort-of). For this creative, math has always been a four-letter word. Stephen Wolfram’s (one of the smartest humans I have ever heard speak) life work is based on the idea that computation empowers the individual to discover facts and concepts that have never been explored before. Okay, that inspires me. I realized this week, since I am 19,667 days old, I probably need to learn to count higher than four.
7. A renewed respect for the word citizen. Jennifer Pahlka challenged us all to practice responsible citizenship rather than random consumerism as Americans. She really helped me believe America can have a bright future as long as we all quit bitching so much and actually use our skills to do something better for our country and government.
6. The call to beauty. Over and over, Ben Silbermann, co-founder of Pinterest expressed his passion for beauty. It was contagious. And he is one of those rare few whose actions speak louder than words. If you have been in a cave somewhere for the last few years and have not taken a few minutes to peruse Pinterest. Savor the beauty.
5. The music industry has burned way too many artists by a lack of integrity and innovation. Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan, was angry and opinionated about the way the industry has reacted to the new world of file sharing and social networking. And I thought these feelings were only in Nashville. Yikes!
4. The Branding as Patterns session. A quote: “Branding is about creating patterns, not repeating messages.” HERE is a great article summing up the session—my first-ever seminar on branding. It was a college education packed into one hour.
3. Cartoonist for the New Yorker, Matthew Diffee’s session on creativity “How To Be An Idea Factory” was inspiring and brilliant. I was so impressed I immediately asked him to speak at re:create ATX and re:create Nashville. One quote out of myriad: “Creatives are never blocked as long as they can move backwards.”
2. Watching Tony Bourdain interact with his production crew and seeing the mutual respect they have for one another and experiencing their passion and use of technology. “I don’t give a s*** how many people watch at our timeslot, I care how many people watch after two years.”—Bourdain. Sustainability. (Note: In light of this, we have created a re:source page at recreateconference.com that features every keynote presentation, interview and soon to include musical performances from the past that we have permission to provide. Also, we will be adding bonus creative content regularly. We want everyone to experience re:create all year-long.)
1. “Art creates knowledge.” Ray Kurzweil said this in what turned out to be my favorite session of the week. I will need to put this quote in my pipe and smoke it for a while.