When You Can’t Make It to SXSW

March 9, 2013


In case you’ve been away from your computer and Twitter feed lately, you’re probably aware that the 2013 South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival has begun in Austin, TX. SXSW has grown from 700 registrants in 1987 to over 12,000 registrants in 2012. Again this year, I won’t be able to attend SXSW. I am counting on my connections, friends and fellow bloggers to keep me updated on the latest and greatest in tech trends and new ideas.

For those of us not attending SXSW this year, there are alternatives that might give you a taste of what it might be like to attend SXSW. Chances are the city you live in has a Social Media Club. If so, do yourself a favor and attend the next event. It is a great way to connect with fellow tech lovers and learn from guest speakers in a wide range of industries.

You might also want to make it to an Ignite or Pecha Kucha event in your area. Both of these events involve timed slide presentations about various topics. Ignite presentations are comprised of 20 slides that advance every 15 seconds. I love their motto “Enlighten us, but make it quick.” Pecha Kucha is a timed event that is comprised of 20 slides that advance every 20 seconds. With events in more than 500 cities around the world, Pecha Kucha tends to focus on design and architecture, but can include just about any topic under the sun. I’ve been to several of these events in Chicago and have never regretted going.

In addition to the events listed above, I’ve attended TechWeek, Social Media Week and the book launch party for Gary Vaynerchuck’s first book, “Crush It.” Chances are, there are events like these in your town, so keep an eye out and make sure you attend.

As an additional alternative to SXSW, I might also direct you to tech and social media blogs such as Mashable, TechCrunch, Social Media Examiner and Social Media Explorer. There will no doubt be reports and updates about the latest trends and newest tools from bloggers who will be attending SXSW…one worth checking out is Aaron Burcell’s Learnist page.

But let’s face it, nothing can replace the experience of attending an event like SXSW in person. While most of us can probably get a taste of the SXSW from updates on blogs and social media, nothing can replace the most social of social media tools…face-to-face communication. I have attended and worked enough conferences and conventions to understand this. I have seen and experienced how a hug from a friend who lives thousands of miles away trumps a “like” from this same friend on Facebook any day.

And what about the home of SXSW, Austin, TX? Could a festival as interesting and entertaining exist in any other city as besides the “weirdness” of Austin? A trip to Austin, I’m certain, is a fun, memorable experience.

As humans, we need this..crave this sort of community. It’s why Deadheads went on the road to follow their band back in the 60s, 70s and 80’s and why festivals like Lollapalooza can charge festival-goers well over $200 for a three day pass to feel incredibly entertained, yet very uncomfortable.

If you’re one of the people like me who cannot make it to SXSW this year…get out there and attend a tech event near you…ask questions…meet people…and get social.

How about you…have you attended SXSW? If so, what’s your favorite part of the festival? What are some other great festivals you’ve attended?

Flickr Creative Commons photo courtesy of Nan Palmero.