I suppose that it would be customary after something like SXSW to provide a summary of the experience. After all, this WAS “South by.”
Connecting with people was great. I used Google+ to connect with people before the event and then used it for some real-life meet-ups. I also took the opportunity to meet people while looking for a place to sit or borrow a power outlet. Several of these I am now connected to with LinkedIn. I used Facebook more to update my status than I did to find out things. Twitter was great as the conference back-channel and to re-Tweet and chat with others in the session. FourSquare was cool because I could see where friends were.
The sessions ranged from “very good” to “meh.” This may be more of a “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of things because sometimes I chose a session that was different just to branch out a little. I did enjoy the keynote sessions for the most part, but then I did watch them from one of the satellite rooms instead of fighting to get into the main session. The panels were often better than the solo presenters, and the ones that took the opportunity to follow along on the back channel and engage some of the questions/comments were well done.
The trade show was, for the most part, a trade show. I was looking for creative engagement from the vendors. I got booth babes and sales pitches. I did restock my t-shirt collection, though, and that was awesome. There was really less about mobile than I thought there would be, but a lot of geo-location social stuff (mostly premised around finding your friends at parties). Lots of iOS apps, fewer Android apps. Lots of Macs, iPads, and iPhones, but a good number of Android phones. I did not see many Android tablets (have I mentioned how much my Asus tablet rocked? It is now my conference tool of choice).
As of the time of this post, I am still FourSquare’s Mayor of SWSX2012 and the Longhorn Room at the Omni Downtown. Both Twitter and FourSquare did a great job of integrating their services into the conference experience. Props to them (I did enjoy Biz Stone of Twiter’s session on Monday afternoon).
And the parties, concerts, vendor booths and stuff around the trade show? Well, outside of going over to the Google Village and getting a picture of the HootSuite bus, I didn’t do much of that. I probably missed some great contacts, but I was already exhausted from being on the road for three weeks, so I tended to have early nights.
So what did I come away with? Conversations can be done well through new media, but it takes work. Because it does take so much effort to do it well, most will probably not engage in it (kind of the the vendors at the trade show). They will stil
l focus on content instead of conversation. Conversation rocks.