SxSWi: Nirvana for the Creative Soul

, Friday, March 28th, 2008

What happens when you mix technology and design with the biggest names in the web industry, throw in a dash of geek-idol worship, and top it with a few thousand of the smartest and most creative people in the world as the cherry? South by Southwest Interactive, that’s what.

It’s taken me 2 weeks to digest everything I saw, read, heard and experienced, but here’s one designer’s attempt to document my trip down the rabbit hole in Austin.

As a newbie to “South by”, it just took a glance at the session list (five days of pure geek glory) to know this was going to be one wild ride. With the latest in cutting edge design, technology and creative thinking as my goal, I took a deep breath and plunged headlong into the conference, hoping I’d come out the other side of the in one piece. And without a tattoo on my…. But I digress.

I am happy to report not only did I survive the mosh pit (un-inked, thankyouverymuch), but I crowdsurfed my way to a new level of creative enlightenment and passion for this crazy little thing we do called The Web. With huge heart-felt apologies to David Letterman & Jon Stewart respectively, I give you my Beaconfire Top Ten South By Moments of Zen:

10. Bearing witness to the Mark Zuckerberg keynote train wreck heard round TwitterWorld.

9. Nibbling a cheeseburger and laughing myself stupid at the icanhascheezburger panel.

8. While walking through the convention center, meeting someone who reads (and comments on) Beaconfire Wire.

7. Adding up Jim Coudal’s General theory of creative relativity, and learning how organic projects like “Booking Bands” keep their agency creative.

6. Giving my business card to Derek Powazek.

5. Mike Rohde’s interactive sketchnotes.

4. Jared Spool doing magic tricks onstage to highlight the idea of using illusion to simplify designs.

3. Adaptive Path’s fascinating comparison of creative web environments to worlds of theatre, orchestras, restaurant kitchens and screenwriting.
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2. Watching Jeffery Veen and Gary Koepke almost come to blows while debating the eternal question “Do web analytics help or hurt design?”. Oh, and Clement Mok as icing/moderator didn’t hurt.

And my Beaconfire number ONE South By Moment of Zen:

1. Frank Warren’s astounding keynote about PostSecret’s amazing journey from art project to Internet sensation, encouraging everyone to “Free your secrets and become who you are.”

I could go on and on (and on and on and on) with more lessons learned, inspiration found, tales of creative eureka, and large hand gestures trying to explain that really-cool-thing-that-this-amazing-person-did. But I’ll spare you the multimedia interpretative dance version of “What I Did on My South by Southwest Adventure”, and leave you with this one thought.

We all have the best jobs in the world, hands down.

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