Lessons From a South by Southwest Rookie

Facebook Is Everywhere and AT&T Service Was Nowhere

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Dan Shust
Dan Shust
Well, I think I've finally come down from that "SXSW high" so many people warned me about. This was my first time attending South By Southwest, and it was a truly amazing experience -- jam-packed with great presentations, panels, demonstrations and discussions. There was so much going on that it is almost impossible to pick out the highlights. If you have some time, check out SXSW's YouTube channel as well as an ever growing list of podcasts from the interactive sessions.

Here are some of the things I learned:

  1. Even a kick-ass conference like SXSW hasn't figured out how to streamline the age-old process of picking up your badge. Really? You can't mail me the thing because you are worried about counterfeiting? So I have to wait in a long-ass line, then go up an escalator then wait behind a line drawn with green tape that had text (also drawn in green tape ) that said "wait behind the line." Seemed a little wrong.
  2. 18,000 extra iPhones will definitely overload the local cellular network. This was nuts. It was almost completely impossible to use an AT&T device anywhere near the convention center. An iPhone might has well have been an iPod Touch. No calls, no IMs, no Twitter. I actually saw people pulling out maps and talking to one another. If this mobile thing takes off there is no way our current carrier structure will be able to support us. On a positive note, the iPhone/iPod Touch is really becoming a force to be reckoned with in gaming.
  3. There are a few other "directors of emerging media" in the world. Actually got to meet a couple of them. Which was cool. Be sure to follow @dberkowitz and @chi_media_guy on Twitter.
  4. David Carson is not a fan of spec work. Just watch this. It gets ugly...
  5. There are only two kinds of laptops at SXSW -- Macbooks and any kind of netbook. Seriously, everyone had a laptop and they all had a glowing Apple or really tiny netbook. Now, if they had a glowing Apple and were really tiny, I'd buy one.
  6. Facebook is going to eat the internet. No doubt they are going through a few growing pains right now but think about it -- they are kind of like a social media Turducken. You have the internet; Facebook runs on the internet but now inside of Facebook you have brand pages that are kind of like websites. Everything might implode, I'm serious. (Actually I'm kidding.) Here is session from Facebook's Dave Morin.
  7. Twitter won't be eaten without a fight. Facebook wants to be like Twitter. But it can't. Twitter does one small thing very well. Facebook does 1,000 things kind of OK. Doing one thing well always wins. Maybe Facebook will try to buy them again.
  8. Next year might really be the year for mobile. There are so many interesting developments going on in mobile right now. Let's just put this whole recession thing on the shelf so we can get to the cool stuff -- OK?
  9. The future of interactive experiences is all about storytelling. Your customer's brand experience becomes less and less about a killer destination site and more and more about the connections between destination, mobile and social experiences, the thread that holds everything together is a compelling story.
  10. Film Guys (and Girls) throw the best parties. Note to Google, Facebook, etc -- a deserted office building, Miller High Life, a few cheese trays and a killer band is all you need. Oh ... and these guys helped too. Thanks B-Side.

    ~ ~ ~
    Dan Shust is director of emerging media at Resource Interactive, where he mans the research-and-development lab. He blogs at resource.com/wethink and danshust.com, and you can follow him on Twitter, @getshust.

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