I’ve lived in Austin since 2001, and while I loved the idea of going to SXSW (South by Southwest) and doing all the fun things associated with the giant event, it just seemed to pass by as little more than a slight traffic annoyance. This year, my wife and I decided to head downtown and check out some events open to the public without a costly badge requirement. Thankfully, Jake Ludington (@jakeludington) and Kelly Clay (@kellyhclay) had the skinny on where and when some of the best SXSW Interactive parties were going on.
We met up with them at a downtown Starbucks (Kudos to the barristas for excellent service.) and chatted a bit about blogging, the amazing LockerGnome community, and the local cuisine. I’d like to add here that Jake and Kelly are both extremely nice and approachable folks that have a genuine passion for what they do.
On our way to an early dinner, we walked by the makeshift Apple Store that served as a temporary retail location specifically for iPad 2 purchases. This line span around the corner for about 24 full hours and it appeared their supply lasted the duration. A phone call to the other Apple Store locations in Austin confirmed that the pop-up store at the heart of SXSW was the only location with the iPad 2 still in stock. Standing outside covering the event was Leo Laporte (@leolaporte) and Sarah Lane (@sarahlane) of TWiT and iPad Today fame. Leo was full of energy, calling out to penny cabs as they sped by and offering anyone that approached a kind word and a handshake.
We headed out to the WordPress party which was located in a club in Austin called Elysium. This club was packed shoulder to shoulder except for the dance floor which was absolutely empty. The DJ was playing an upbeat set while what I assume was a crowd comprised mostly of bloggers chatted about their various projects. Jake and Kelly made their rounds while my wife and I took in a bit of the atmosphere. The air conditioning in the club appeared to be mostly dependent on wall AC units that were pumping out very cold air in a seemingly hopeless battle to chill the overcrowded space.
After about fifteen minutes, the MC of the event announced that free T-shirts were available in addition to a bounty of buttons and stickers all promoting the power of WordPress. After grabbing a shirt, I spoke very briefly to Violet Blue (@VioletBlue), a writer, blogger, and podcaster known for her work with the San Francisco Chronicle and her podcast where she talks about the often taboo topic of sex.
After this, it was on to the Digg event hosted by Revision 3 which featured a live taping of Diggnation and Brian Brushwood’s (@shwood) Scam School. This event, like the WordPress party, was completely free and no badge was required to attend. My wife and I enjoyed a live taping of Scam School featuring Brian Brushwood’s magic, several world record attempts, and a sprinkle of comedy. Once the show was over, we headed back stage and met with Owen JJ Stone (@Ohdoctah), a video podcaster and brand builder with a great attitude and polite personality. He joked around with everyone that approached, living up to the friendly and approachable persona seen all over the “interwebs”.
South by Southwest is an event where content creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators can come together and connect with their audience. In one afternoon with absolutely no cover charge, we were able to experience breathtaking live events, meet incredibly great people, and experience the energy and personality that makes SXSW such a great event.
A big thank you goes to Jake and Kelly for not only letting us tag along on their adventures today, but for all the hard work they’re doing to cover this week-long event for the LockerGnome community.