I took, no exaggeration, 44 pages of notes from the panels at SXSW Interactive conference in Austin this year. This was in large part due to the high quality and relevance of the sessions I was able to attend. This was one of the best SXSWi for me so far, from a panel perspective. From a social perspective, it's hard for a conference that has grown so much to have the same ease and opportunity for making personal connections as it once did; especially for those like me who are more comfortable in a small group than in a massive crowd. But the opportunities are still there if you made the effort to look for them.
It is the energy I was able to catch from the conference this year that was the very best thing about it. A lot of people there were struggling with the same issues I am - to wit, how to stay motivated and proactive when the economic and regulatory climates seem so dire. However, I came away refreshed, hopeful, invigorated. I have some new projects in the planning stages, some of which you'll see evidence of here on the blog very soon.
Highlights of the conference included several panels dealing with audience management and crowd sourcing, a full day of panels surrounding issues of copyright and fair use, and two extremely helpful panels about changing jobs in the current economy. Overall, I thought the panels were well selected and scheduled; in the past there have been several time slots where I wanted to be in four places at once and others where I was interested in nothing; this year there was only one session slot in which I found myself free, and I used it to visit the trade show floor.
In addition, I saw a number of great folks I usually only see once a year in Austin, and as usual, met some great new people who turn out to live practically in my backyard. SXSW Interactive 2009 was a great conference for me, and I feel lucky to have been able to attend.
And if anyone has insomnia or a vast amount of time on their hands, I'd be happy to share my panel notes. Just shoot me an email.