My views & feedback on SXSW

by Justin Souter on April 14, 2009

This post sets out my observations of the South by South West (SXSW) interactive festival (, in March 2009.

I attended as Ambassador to Thinking Digital (


  • IMG00163-20090316-0756Overall, it was a fantastic experience, not overwhelming
  • I don’t tend to overdo things, so didn’t "burn the candle at both ends" too much!
  • I found it a validating / affirmative experience, but that’s because I’m a practitioner and interested in the technologies, the people side of them and their future possibilities.
  • The types of folk who were there were on a pretty similar wavelength to me, there were very few suits
  • I tried to make it a collaborative experience
    • Live-blogging the sessions
    • Tweeting from the States
  • Remember to take your photo ID when you go to a bar, I’m nearing 40 and was refused entry without it – bah!
  • Also, remember your SXSW badge to get into events
  • Twitter was a key tool to stay in touch with other people and with what was happening
  • was a useful tool to work out a draft schedule, there was also a tool called the Sched, which seemed to offer greater functionality & integration with iPhone.
  • Herb Kim made a [remote] introduction to Alan Patrick – a fascinating bloke!
  • It was a fairly relentless few days. Key things are to eat & drink enough, don’t "rawk" things too much as your body will give in!
    • Also useful knowing where the nearest restaurant / cafe is – for instance, I should have made more of the cafe in the Convention Center.
  • I swapped business cards with as many people as I could. I’ve had the cards scanned by Cloud Contacts, and will be e-mailing those I met.
  • IMG00130-20090313-1029Austin is a "pretty progressive place", although the Civil War memorial in my Flickr stream might suggest otherwise!
  • gives the low-down on how to use SXSW for marketing purposes
  • SXSW is also a film & music festival, although the Interactive bit was key for Thinking Digital / Codeworks. That said, there were other people going out to SXSW from the North East – I think for the Music festival.
    • Maybe there’s an opportunity to round them up to get some further feedback & learn for next year?



  • Flight to London & stayed at Heathrow
  • Flew out to Dallas Fort Worth airport, then connection on to Austin, TX
  • Took Supershuttle from AUS to downtown Austin – good service & good value; also good way of starting to meet people
  • Journey back retraced my steps, without the stay at Heathrow


IMG00134-20090313-1205Good gaming ideas to find out about:

Digital Mission

Digital Mission “is organised by Chinwag for UK Trade & Investment, enabling digital companies to expand into overseas markets and attract investment outside the UK.”

I’m not sure I met *everyone* on the Digital Mission (DM), but I gave it my best shot!

Chinwag seemed to be doing a good job, there was a lot of goodwill for Sam, Emily & the gang

I attended virtually everything that Chinwag put on, spent a lot of time with the DM folks – having lunch, supper, breakfast, sessions etc.

Having a base & bunch of people I already knew was really helpful. Downside was a I probably didn’t meet as many random people

Online tools: photos, posts, links

Tuttle was everywhere! ;-)

Tuttle was everywhere! ;-)

Other Reviews of SXSW

UPDATE: You’re a Tiger!

Thanks to Benjamin Ellis for this photo!


Photo credit to Benjamin Ellis

Technorati Tags: souter consulting,,digital mission,thinking digital

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