As promised, we have another round of notes from SXSW, this time from creative director Leigh and client success manager Justin Shimp!
To echo everyone's sentiments, my biggest takeaways from our time at SXSW were the deepening connection I felt within our team. It seemed we all grew a bit closer to one another in some way or another... from shared adversity (being locked out for hours in the pouring rain), shared experiences (playing individual and group rounds of "Where's Jeb?"), shared meals (a team palaver over fine food & wine in an actual vault), and more. The point is, I think we all got to know each other better.
In terms of the event itself, my stand-out moments included Baratunde Thurston's talk about the important role humor (specifically satire) is playing in cutting through biased media and political propaganda messaging — not only in the physical realm, but digital as well. It appears that comedy may be the last "trust-worthy" voice of society (provided you have sense of humor enough to read between the lines.) You can read more about his speech here.
I also enjoyed Jennifer Pahlka's keynote about her "Code for America" project. Insightful in regards to the challenges facing our local government, services that cannot benefit from the efficiency and cost-savings that advanced technology has been providing the commercial world for years, because of the lack of interest in developing solutions for government entities. Her group spent a year working on simple and effective solutions for three US cities, concepting, designing and building 21 different web-based apps and/or services to solve specific issues facing their respected cities. An amazing concept that seems to really have struck the right note with other SXSW attendees. I hope you'll read more about it, and maybe even join some of us SmallBoxers who have already signed up for the "Code for America" brigade.
A Trip of Firsts
First off this was a trip of many firsts for me. It was my first plane ride ever and my first SXSW! First off, the plane ride was amazing. I got to meet the pilot and they gave me little pilot wings for my first time ever. It sounds dorky, but it was totally cool.
SXSW started out cold and rainy but it didn't deter my spirits and quest for knowledge! I met many interesting people and saw some amazing lectures. One of my first takeaways I had was concerning my use of free open wi-fi networks. A couple lectures were based on this topic at SXSW and it was interesting the ways they were able to access many people's phones and computers just because of the convenience of an easy wi-fi set up. Made me second guess my own security and was very eye opening indeed!
Secondly, I got to meet some really cool astronomers and social media experts from NASA. Their Twitter presence is amazing! There are astronauts in space right now live tweeting! I got a official NASA sticker which is now proudly displayed on my computer.
My third surprise was a couple movies I got to see with another SmallBoxer, Sara. We saw "Indie Game," which was based on some recent independent game successes of very small teams of one or two developers. Especially after our Factory Week project where we built a video game in one week.
Then we saw an amazing little gem called "Grandma Lo-Fi" about a 70 year old woman from Iceland who takes up recording and composing her own songs. It might not have had a lot to do with web development but it had a strong impact on my desire to create and put my own personal work out there more and share it with my friends.
Overall, I was really happy with the experience and cannot wait to come back next year. Austin is a wonderful city with great locals and places to visit.
The general consensus? We all want to go back next year! See you there?