In 2011, I attended South by Southwest (SXSW) for the first time. And this year, I received my SXSW Sophomore Badge on Foursquare. There’s a lot of memories I could share about why I have a hippie lovefest for SXSW, or SXSWi for those that are interactively inclined. But there is one story I’ve never shared as to why SXSWi is so very near and dear to my heart.
It was a normal van ride into downtown Austin. Long, hot and crowded with interesting people. We pulled into the Austin Convention Center, a war-like scene of thousands of people, battling around a flurry of cars, vans and food trucks. Just in the middle of all this, there it was. A brilliant black BMW perfectly clean and parked stationary outside the convention center. And next to it, its nemesis. A shitty beat up pink car with bright green polka dots time-warped straight from the hippie revolution. One year later, I am still wishing I would have taken a photo of this surreal and contrarian moment. I mean really, how often do you see such diversity parked within a few feet of each other. And this perfectly out of place polka dotted moment has symbolized to me the experience of SXSWi.
People move at incredible speeds in life. Dotting to and from meetings. Scrambling to capitalize off their next great idea. Running around to make their next dollar. In the digital rat race of life, people often move so fast it is impossible to distinguish if they are BMWs or something much more interesting.
Sometimes in life, you have to stop and see the real picture.
SXSWi is an insane and absolute endless flurry of energy, chaos and exhaustion. But somewhere in that chaos, the world stops. You listen. You relate. You think. You focus. And in a myriad of excitement, tweets, parties, blog posts, sessions, conversations, trade shows, flash mobs, food trucks and every other underground SXSWi activity, it happens.
Perspective. Like my moment seeing the beat up polka dotted car, the blur and noise of a world moving the speed of light stops.
I’m a geek. And like the hippie revolution in the 1960′s, SXSWi serves a similar purpose. To unleash a countercultured community of the inspired and passionate on the future of our digital world. And to evaluate how each of us can follow our passions in pursuit of our own interactive revolutions. There’s not a magic drug to induce your interactive passions. But if you are just lucky enough, you’ll find that perfect moment at SXSWi to view the digital world from outside yourself. And like my polka dotted car, to see how you are truly parked amidst the chaos and to evaluate the type of vehicle you want to be.