Did SXSW Really Suck This Year?
It seems there's a lot of negative reaction to this year's SXSW. Revision3's Jim Louderback complains he's been blackballed and wonders why the event still needs panels...even though he snuck in and participated on three. The Huffington Post's Mayhill Fowler says the event has grown too big and lost its edge. ReadWrite Web's Jolie O'Dell wrote a post entitled "Why SXSW Sucks" on her personal blog which now has 127 comments and counting.
In reaction to O'Dell's article, SiliconAngle defended the event in an article entitled Why SXSW Doesn't Suck (and used a picture I took last year thank you very much) citing the fact they got 15 to 20 hours of usable video content from the event.
So the Twitter Interview wasn't that great (I fault the interviewer, not Evan). The panels may have been lacking in content. And the douche count might have been a bit higher than normal. But where else can you physically hang with so many people in the marketing/interactive/advertising/social/geek space all at once. Evan Williams. Kevin Rose. Bob Garfield (yes, I include him), Justine Ezarik, David Armano, Brian Solis, Henry Copeland, Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Brogan, Violet Blue, Rick Webb, Ze Frank, Jason Fried, Guy Kawasaki, Pete Cashmore, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Jeremiah Owyang, Benjamin Palmer, Adam Pash, Jeff Pulver, Ian Schafer, Ariel Waldman, Adam Wallace. And, yea, Ashton Kutcher.
Seriously. Where? And if you don't know who all those people are, you should. Do your homework.
In defense of the SXSW Sucks stance, BlogAds Founder Henry Copeland said, "SXSW is like Twitter with sun and music and beer mixed in." And he's right.
SXSW is about the people. Sure, panels and content are important but it's the people you want to connect with. It's people you will do business with. It's people who will become part of your professional (and personal) life.
Yes, SXSW has grown to gargantuan proportion from its roots and a tiny geek gathering in the once tiny town of Austin, Texas. But as with most things, SXSW has grown, matured and become more mainstream. And there's nothing wrong with mainstream. After all, if more people meet smart people and learn how and why they are successful, those people are likely to learn something and become successful themselves.
And maybe, just maybe that will reduce the douche-bag quotient a bit. While naysayers won't be there next year, I will for sure.
Did you go to SXSW? What was your experience?