This is my how-to-survive/thrive/enjoy/win SXSW post. But first, here is my SXSW Origin Story.
Yesterday I found the initial email from a friend introducing me to SXSW and urging me to go. I received the email on September 2, 2004. The friend is Kevin Smokler, and he's a big reason I love the event and the reason I know about it. Kevin and I met at BookExpo in Chicago during the summer of 2004. It was a dinner organized by Bella Stander who is awesome.
Kevin and I stayed in touch, and I hired him for a "virtual book tour" phone-based consulting session focused on marketing my first book. Over the course of exchanging emails, Kevin, as another self-described "conference whore," suggested we swap conference recommendations. On his list was something called "South by Southwest Interactive" which he described thusly:
The mardi gras of the online world. Anyone who's doing anything interesting online is there. I've spoken there the last 2 years. You so should go. I'll introduce you to everyone.
I couldn't make it to SXSW 2005, but when 2006 rolled around, I sent Kevin a followup asking if he still thought this was a place I needed to be. He did and reminded me that he would "introduce me to everyone."
So I went, and Kevin indeed introduced me to everyone, extending his group dinner plans, letting me tag along to cool parties and funky storytelling events, breaking bread with brad and more. During that first SXSW danah boyd played a similar role. They were my SXSW big brother and big sister, and through them I met amazing humans like lynne d johnson and George Kelly and too many to name right here.
I exited the conference/convention/pilgrimage/BBQ pit with a recommitment to these digital arts and an extended family of beautiful, world-changing geeks. Every time I return, it's a family reunion. Every time I return, I get a little less stressed about having the latest app, getting into the hottest party or attending the buzziest (yes, buzziest) session. I want you to try to keep that spirit in mind as you review my very short list items for your consideration at SXSW Interactive.