SxSWi: A Festival, Not a Conference

Despite having been a native Texan for most of my life, this year is the first I’ve been in attendance at SxSW, and I must say it’s been an entirely worthwhile experience (even taking into account the fact that this is the longest stretch of time I’ve ever been apart from my wife and I miss her dearly). Going to conferences and putting names to faces is always fun, but the whole atmosphere of festivity combined with bringing the brightest minds from a lot of often disparate worlds together really does create a unique atmosphere of learning and discovery.

When I planned my trip, I marked down on my calendar sixteen panels that I wanted to attend and learn from while I was here. Generally, I’ve attended only a few in totality, a fraction of what I had intended to do. Part of that was due to the demanding schedule with the live stream put on by UStream, and part of that is me not bending to the overpowering will of the event as a whole.

It really is a festival, and not your typical conference. I’m sure someone tried to tell me this here, but it must not have registered with me.

image Not to take anything from the interesting and often amazing panels I have attended, some of the most memorable and valuable parts of this I’ve gleaned from the hallway track. Today, I gave in and threw my schedule out the window and spent the day just meeting with people and recording it in the hallways and smoking decks.

Take for instance, this conversation I had with Liz Strauss today; we kept crossing paths, and we’ve met before at other events, but I was so single-minded in my efforts to get from Point A to Point B, we hadn’t really had a chance to sit down, catch up, and have a talk.

You Can’t Get Where I Got the Way I Got Here: Twitter Changed the Game

If you’re not familiar with Liz, she’s the author behind, and the curator of SOBcon. She’s known for her community building ability and uncanny knack for getting upwards of 60 comments on nearly every post.

One thing that’s generally acknowledged as accepted fact by everyone here – microblogging has changed the game. Liz and I started off our conversation, as bloggers who’ve been around before and after the advent of Twitter. One of her niches is blogging about blogging, and a frequent question she gets was: “Can I do what you do and get big?”

The answer is no, and that topic spurred a conversation that delved deep into why that is, and it has a lot to do with Twitter and other similar services. Simply put, it’s a different, but related set of skills required to get there from here.

It’s a twenty minute conversation, but it will seem like a lot less.

Download the MP4 here.

Mark Rizzn Hopkins writes at and Silicon Angle.