Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Survival Tips

This is my fourth year attending the Interactive festival and, like, my 10,000th year going out to hear music during SXSW. Lots of Austinites steer clear of downtown during this media overload, but I just think it is the best time of year. Better than Christmas or my birthday...way better. But, here's some advice that might help you get through any rough patches.
  • Before coming to the festival, there are a few things that you can do to maximize your enjoyment. Get some rest, take your vitamins, don't engage in any excessive workouts and try not to expose yourself to disease. OK, this is mainly advice for me... Every year during SXSW, I have run the gamut of having a mild cold, to completely losing my voice, to having my back go out...SXSW is painful under the best circumstances, so try to stay healthy.
  • Do some preliminary planning. Check the schedule, as I did in my previous post, and do some research. You'll be happy you did. But, feel free to vary from that schedule if something else comes up.
  • Wear comfortable clothes, shoes. You'll been maneuvering downtime parking, and may have to walk a few blocks to the Convention Center. You'll be walking a lot during the thing, and you'll be sitting for long periods of time, sometimes in crowded sessions. Don't feel that you have to dress to impress. People will be casual, although some of them will attempt to be hip.
  • In regard to parking, downtown street parking is free on the weekends. You'll probably have to pay for a parking garage during the week. Better yet, take a bus, check out the Cap Metro Schedule.
  • You will be overwhelmed. There will more things that you want to do than time in a day. Don't worry about it, relax...sit down... open up your schedule ...and breath. With hundreds of speakers, there is no way you can take it all in over four days. Forget about the music, 1700 bands, really, you think you are going to make a dent in that?
  • Drink caffeinated beverages with reckless abandon.
  • Talk to people. People from all over the globe come to SXSW for the Interactive Festival. They like to talk to locals, they love Austin. This is a great opportunity to network and just be friendly. Have some business cards, but don't view this as something extra high-pressure or corporate.
  • When blogging, I find it best to take notes during a session, then compile them and any media, photos and video, into a blog right after. Others prefer to live blog a session. Do what you are most comfortable. Don't feel like you have to capture every word, just the overall summary of the discussion, maybe some key quotes.
  • If you can, talk to panelists after their sessions. Ask questions during sessions. This is your chance to speak with some of the most influential people in technology and media. This will also add to your blog coverage.
  • Visit the trade show. It's fun and you might find someone or something interesting there. Get free stuff, stop at the book table. Guess what? There are even more panels on the Adobe Day Stage. Visit the ScreenBurn Arcade, if you are into video games.
  • In the evenings, after a long day of blogging and learning, enjoy the bounty of all the social activities that Austin has to offer. The student day passes don't get you into any "official parties," but there is so much going on downtown during SXSW. Check out some of the tips for free stuff at donewaiting.com and Austinist. Waterloo Records has awesome, free instores, too.
Just have fun and enjoy Austin in the springtime. Then, go home and think about how smart you are, how you will be able to impress your friends with the latest in technology buzzwords and acronyms...and put SXSW 2009 on your calendar.

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