SXSW Interactive 2013: Quick Hits

Photo by Adam Seitz

This being my first trip to SXSWi, I’m still processing much of the experience. It was invigorating, inspiring, humbling and exhausting all at the same time. My immediate takeaways, including the areas that I hope to further explore in the coming months, are as follows.

1) The concept of disruptive accessibility was demonstrated again and again both before and during the trip. Most notably, it took the form of services like Airbnb and Uber. That’s how my good friend Adam and I managed to stay in a restored, 24-foot 1967 Airstream trailer for the entire festival and leveraged a personal fleet of citizen cabbies to take us all around the city.

2) How data flows and the power behind ownership of that data has become mind-bogglingly complex and critically important. Want to see that power visualized, then check out this Vine video of Foursquare check-ins in Manhattan during hurricane Sandy.

3) Austin is a beautifully and delicately weird town. A few times you could see it straining under the massive weight of what SXSW has become. Here’s hoping it can continue to bend and not break.

4) Pro SXSW tip: When the lead singer crowd surfs, it’s considered courteous to surf his mic cord too.

5) It bears repeating that SXSW is truly an experience…a festival, not just a conference. To speak only of the panels/presentations or the products is dismissing the people and power plays that are critical to the mix as well. Believe it or not, in the middle of all the chaos a delicate ballet is being performed, one that divines how a significant portion of today’s technology scene is moving and morphing.