What Everybody Ought To Know…About This SXSW Business

SXSW (South by Southwest) is composed of three major conferences. Interactive (Technology), Film and Music. This past year the conference was bigger than ever, the official paid attendance count was 24,569, up from 19,364 in 2011, a change of about 27 percent (via Omar of Austin 360, hat tip to Bryan Person) The interactive conference (SXSWi) is getting larger each year, including dozens of sessions not in the convention center. After attending SXSWi last year, here are a few observations from my perspective:

Observation 1: Austin Is the Ideal Home For This Gathering

  • This is the little city who could. Unlike Nashville, Austin actually recognizes and embraces the extraordinary convergence of film, technology and music taking place in this renaissance city.
  • With a plethora of sexy food trucks, great restaurants and a vibrant and safe downtown, even 25,000 people plus seem to be comfortably cared for.
  • The “Keep Austin Weird” motto fits the SXSWi registrants like a custom suit, ahem, tattoo.

Observation 2: Embracing New Technologies Enhances Collaborative Learning

  • For the first time in my life, I put away my trusty note pad and opened my iPad. Instead of furiously taking notes, I followed the Twitter hashtag for each session, occasionally jotting a note, I mean, a Tweet. Watching the real-time Twitter stream enhanced my learning in a unique and exciting way. Having real-time access to thousands of great minds and their thoughts and reactions to a talk is an amazing way to learn.
  • Buzz words like open source,  social networking, empathy and transmedia all scream collaboration.
  • 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.

Observation Set 3: The Registrants Are A Perfect Medium For World Change

  • There are corporate executives at SXSW.
  • There are geeks at SXSW.
  • There are young people at SXSW.
  • There are influencers at SXSW.
  • What better formula to change the world? Kids, suits and geeks. Now…if we can get them to collaborate—in the words of David Bowie, they will make “ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” in the world.

Observation 4: Why I Want To Speak At SXSW 2013

  • At the 2012 Conference, two words emerged for me from the thousands spoken. “Empathic” and “Transmedia.”  There are words that seem as old as time itself, and empathic is one of those rare words to me. Those eight letters grouped in that specific way grabbed me by the neck, and I have not been able to escape its clutches.
  • I have created a talk: “The Seven Last Words of Spock: Empathic Consciousness in an Illogical World” that I believe can make a difference. After 50 plus years of living and after surviving the trauma of my own illogical self this past year, I believe I have learned hard lessons that can make a difference in other creatives’ lives.
  • Please vote for me by clicking HERE and taking 2 minutes to give a thumbs up to my idea. Thanks!!
Created by Randy Elrod

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