The Top 10 Reasons I’m NOT Going to SXSW

In my Tweetstream today, I noticed a post from Lisa Dilg of Perkett PR about how she won’t be writing her Top 10 list this year since she’s going to SXSW (South by Southwest for those of you who aren’t hip enough to speak in acronymese).  I may be perhaps the last remaining holdout from the “social community” who either hasn’t been to Austin for this lovefest or isn’t going this year.  I volunteered to guest blog for her but while she’s working on her reasons she is going, I thought I’d go ahead and list my reasons for not going.

  1. At this late date, I couldn’t get a good hotel reservation anyhow.  And I’m not going to sleep on your couch.
  2. I’m too  old to drive with seven other people in a VW van.
  3. I gave up going to events where the “community” decides the agenda based on popular vote back in 3rd grade.  I accept the fact that I’m terminally unhip and in fact I’m proud of that fact.
  4. I prefer spending my time at events where there are actual potential clients.
  5. I prefer spending my time at events where my thinking will be challenged.
  6. And for me to be sober enough to remember how it was my thinking was challenged the next morning.
  7. I’d kinda miss the winter we’re having here in the northeast.
  8. Charlie Sheen’s not going to Austin.
  9. If I hear one more person say “you’ve got to be part of the conversation,” I will become physically ill and may resort to violence.
  10. While you’re all down there partying, I’ll be up here actually delivering value to real clients.
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7 Responses

  1. Jonathan – you seem to think that SXSW is one big partying event. The fact is that, while there are alot of evening events where awesome conversations happen, the days are filled with highly educational sessions by and with some of the smartest minds around. SXSW is where you find out and figure out what the next few years is going to look like. So, while you may be adding value for your clients, those going will be absorbing even more value to bring back to their clients.

    BTW I know a few people with doubles looking
    for roommates. I don’t have the $2500 to go this year but I’m not trying to kid myself into thinking I’m better off not going!

  2. Michael, a few thoughts. Certainly my piece was a bit tongue in cheek. I understand that there is value to be derived there and that all industries have their confabs that are one part celebratory, one part self-congratulations, one part party, one part networking and one part content. This is a good thing.

    That said, one common element of these gatherings (not just SXSW but across many categories well beyond technology) is their general absence of critical thought. This is for celebration of all we can do. As my earlier post on social ennui calls out, however, I think this industry is big need of a healthy dose of introspection and maturity and I’m not sure that’s what’s going to happen at SXSW. I hope I’m wrong and I’ll surely be monitoring the Twitter feed for evidence that that’s the case. There are times I like being wrong (as infrequently as that happens).

  3. If you haven’t been in the last five years or so, it’s safe to say that most of what you read about it is somewhat skewed. Sure, there are thousands of people that are only there for the parties and spend most of their time standing in lines hoping for a free drink. These people will tell you that the panels are worthless and it’s all about networking and partying.

    I disagree. I feel like I learn more in four days of attending panels/discussions than I do in three months sorting through the echochamber of online media. Plus, it’s one of the rare times when you can actually get intelligent people from this industry together in the same room and debate a topic without it devolving into the standard transgressive pattern that it does online (you’d be surprised how civil people can be when they’re not hiding behind their Gravatars).

    Lastly, important technology gets launched there, whether it’s Facebook Connect or Twitter or something else. Having direct access to the companies making these announcements can provide instant clarity versus having the information filtered to you.

    Sure, you can still get Google to buy you a drink or jockey your way into some all-you-can-eat rib dinner courtesy of a PR agency but I think SXSW still does a better job than any other conference of actually programming a good agenda of panels and discussions and bringing together a great global cross section of the interactive/emerging media world.

  4. Dang. And you could camp out Nevada til Burning Man!

  5. Mega-uber-ditto for reasons # 7, 9 and 10.

  6. I’ve never been to Burning Man. That is one of those things still on my bucket list.

  7. Hey man, that’s my bus!

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