Thoughts on my first time at SXSW

I’ve been back from my first SXSW for a week now, and I have to say that overall I had a really great time!

I’ve heard a lot of complaining about how SXSW Interactive isn’t what it used to be, it’s too big, you can’t run into your friends, you can’t get into parties, etc. Since this was my first time, I have nothing to compare it to, but I can say that I was still able to meet a lot of the people I wanted to and make some really great connections with smart, talented people in the web design industry. My situation is a little bit different than most people who attend SXSW, however; I’m an author and speaker in addition to being a working web designer, so I think I do stand to get work in the writing and speaking areas of my career as a result of networking at SXSW. If I wasn’t an author and speaker, though, I don’t think SXSW would have been as beneficial in building my professional network. I do see how it’s both too insular and big for being as effective at that as other conferences or events could be.

The first couple days, I had a hard time getting into any sessions—or at least any I really cared about. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the quality of the presentations I did see and didn’t feel like I was learning much. But after the first couple days, I finally got into some really excellent sessions that gave me new ideas for things to try in my projects and career. I’ve felt like I’m in a bit of rut lately, since I haven’t had much client work to do, and have felt discouraged about my career. But after seeing some of these great sessions, I feel re-energized about what I do, the value it has, and where I can take it. That’s probably the most valuable takeaway from SXSW for me, so if you’re trying to decide whether to go to SXSW next year, that may be a good reason to decide yes. (more…)

SXSW stuff: book giveaway, my panel, more

Next Thursday, I’m flying out to Austin for my first SXSW. I’m excited and a little overwhelmed. But let’s start with the exciting stuff.

Meeting you

I’m excited to meet you guys! Please come up and introduce yourselves. Hooray for new friends! To find me, follow me on Twitter. I haven’t yet figured out which app to use for planning my schedule. (That’s one of the overwhelming things. More on that later.)

Book giveaway

I’m going to have a few copies of my book, Flexible Web Design: Creating Liquid and Elastic Layouts with CSS, to give away. Want one? Find me and tell me why you want to learn about flexible design. iPad is an acceptable one word answer. Then presto, the book (if I haven’t given them all away yet) is yours!

I’ll probably also have flyers with a discount code for buying Flexible Web Design. Hopefully.

My panel

I’m presenting in the CSS3 Design with HTML5 workshop at 3:30 on Saturday in Ballroom F, with Christopher Schmitt and Stephanie Sullivan. Come check it out. As long as you’re not going to heckle me and post mean things on Twitter, that is.

Halp! I’m a noob!

Ok, now the overwhelming stuff. I have no idea how this SXSW thing works. If anyone has any essential tips, or links to articles with tips, I will love you forever. Some of the questions that are going through my mind:

  • How many business cards should I take with me?
  • Which of the myriad scheduling apps should I use?
  • What are the best iPhone apps to help me through? (Note: I don’t have an iPhone, just an iPod Touch. Don’t hate me.)
  • Which are the best events and parties to go to for schmoozing?
  • Which are the best parties to go to for having fun? (Note: I don’t drink. But I still like to have fun.)
  • What do women typically wear during the day? What about to parties at night?
  • Where can I eat good food for cheap?
  • Does Austin have any good bakeries, and if so, how can I get my hands on some delicious cookies? (This is always my first question when traveling. I always try to find the nearest bakery to my hotel. Sadly, most cities do not have bakeries up to my standards. At least, not cookie bakeries.)

Ok, that’s enough for now. Again, come meet me, see my panel, hang out.