Fest Rest

23 Mar

Kangaroo kuddle

For about a month and a half, starting at the beginning of February and ending less than a week ago, my whole life was pretty much South by Southwest Interactive.

The festival takes place in Austin every year and for the last two has been growing at a rate of more than 35 percent, year-over-year. Like smartphones and apps, it’s become one of those things that only becomes a bigger and bigger part of my job. It’s not just a national tech story that publications like Wired, CNet, The New York Times and others pay attention to, it’s a local story for us. And as the lead reporter on it for my paper, I get really, really competitive and territorial about our coverage. It’s probably the only time of the year that this journalistic bug hits me, where I turn into one of those guys with the hat with “PRESS” on it and bark things out like, “You’re not gonna scoop me, ya out-of-towner, see?”

The “See?” is probably unnecessary.

But it really does take over my life for a good while. I turn down freelance assignments and other offers to do stuff with, “I can’t. South by Southwest.” We coordinate a schedule of babysitting help for my wife with the explainer, “South by Southwest.” When I go to get a bite to eat at a restaurant and they ask what I want, I say, “South by Southwest.” Then they bring me back a soggy sandwich and I wonder if perhaps I’ve gone too far.

What is the festival? I don’t really know anymore. It was once a funky, centralized festival for CD-ROM producers, digital artists and people dabbling in online porn (“dabbling” is a good word for that, don’t you think? It’s dirty-but-not-quite-dirty-sounding).

Today, it’s a massive social media event, a place where start-ups try to get a foothold with early adopters and a place where huge companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their brands in front of bloggers, top Twitterers and the press.

For me, personally, it’s the hardest I work all year on any one project. It’s also the only time of the year I have a free pass to stay out as late as I want for a whole week and to really throw myself into coverage.

Social Media / Middle East Core Conversation

I won’t bore you with the play-by-play because I pretty much did that with Twitter for a whole week (and then some) to the point where I wondered if one more post with the hashtag “#SXSW” was finally going to drive my friends away for good.

I took last Thursday and Friday off after the fest and am scheduling some vacation time soon.  You’ll see why below.

Here’s a lot of what I wrote in that blaze of pre-festival, mid-festival and post-festival activity.

Me and Joy!

 

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