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Friday
Mar112011

SXSWi 2011: Some initial thoughts

Mark_Gale Today's post is brought to us by guest blogger and fellow TAAN member Mark Gale. Mark is the president of Charleston|Orwig, a Wisconsin strategic communications firm that deals with reputation management and integrated marketing.

There was a bit of griping at the South by Southwest Interactive festival last year. The old timers said it had simply gotten too big. They, of course, wanted attendance capped after they and their pals secured lifetime spots. How huge is it? That is hard to say.

The official website avoids the fact by assuring that it is not too large. New question and answer site and media darling Quora  provides answers ranging from 12,000 to 36,000. Hmm… This infographic does a pretty good job putting some numbers and context behind SXSW 2010 and 2011.

It suffices to say that getting around can be tough and getting locked out some of the best sessions are unfortunate realities. That, however, is also part of the experience.

SXSW_question_boyAlso part of the experience: Question Boy 

I took a few minutes to get reacquainted with the convention center after picking up my badge on Thursday. The smell of fresh carpet and grilled cheese sandwich samples spurred a few thoughts:

  • Best PR move last year was the AT&T device charging station. Electrical outlets are few and devices are many, people were clamoring for a recharge. AT&T was smart enough to expand for 2011.
  • Worst fumble was geo-location platform Gowalla when they created a beautiful yet glitchy interface that yielded inaccurate locations. (Foursquare leapt ahead.) There is a bit of a relaunch this year in collaboration with Mashable. We’ll see.
  • Samsung has constructed a massive video screen in the main concourse to track trending topics. Smart idea, since tweets are rampant from sessions. By the way, users have a simple solution for official hash tags that are too long—they abandon them and invent new ones.
  • When looking at the huge escalator that links upstairs to downstairs sessions, I decided I now know what a migrating fish must feel like when encountering dam: “I have to get up there but it’s just so slow and hard.”

Sxsw_escalators

  • Finally, I learned that Apple has once again made a very smart move by creating a temporary store at Congress and West 6th (walking distance) to sell the new iPad 2. Yeah, I think a few people are going to be over there today.

If your business deals with communications, marketing or technology (are there many that don’t?) you need to get to SXSW eventually. Twitter had its real coming out here in 2007. Gowalla may thrive or stumble. And in a little session far from the main rooms someone may just reveal the next big thing.

My advice: Come to Austin next year to be part of it. There’s still room.

You can read more from Mark on his company's blog, Reputation Forward.

Reader Comments (1)

I signed up for both Gowalla and Foursquare this SXSW to try them both out. I found that both suffered at the hands of a lack of network (data) connectivity in trying to locate and "check in" at various places around downtown.Overall, Gowalla seemed to work more often (possibly through sheer luck of location) and I generally found that I enjoyed the 'benefits' that I received through using Gowalla over Foursquare's internal point system. That being said... both had trouble locating exactly where I was and seemed to believe I was hundreds of yards from my actual location.In the end... I think I'm going to keep checking in on Facebook.
March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSimon Erich

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