I had an amazing time in Austin for SXSW this year. I headed down on Thursday March 8, and was there for the entire duration of the festival, closing it out with the annual SXSW Softball Tournament on March 18. This was my second time in Austin, but my first time at SXSW. I'd booked my trip back in September 2011, and had developed pretty high expectations as March rolled around. It did not disappoint.
Although there are a number of different components to SXSW that happen in tandem, it consists of three core parts: Interactive, Music, and Film. The Interactive segment went from Friday March 9 - Tuesday March 13, at which point the Music segment kicked off and lasted until Sunday March 19. The Film portion spanned the entire duration, woven into both the Interactive and Music segments. Another major component was the SXSW Screenburn videogame convention, which will become SXSW Gaming in 2013, and perhaps become more prominent.
When I planned my trip back in September, the only hotel that had vacancies for the entire duration of the festival was the Wyndham Garden Hotel south of town, which is where I stayed. The hotel was pretty comfortable, but being so far from downtown where all of the action is turned out to be pretty inconvenient. I had to rely on the R&R shuttle service, which was pretty unreliable, at least for the first half of my stay. The next time I do SXSW, I will most definitely find a way to stay closer to downtown. Really that, and the few days of chilly rainy weather at the start of Interactive, were my only complaints.
During the next several weeks, I will attempt to process everything I experienced there: all of the seminars, interviews, panel discussions, book readings, and networking during Interactive, and all of the new bands I discovered and films I watched. In the midst of all of the varied content, there were definitely some convergence points and trends, which I will try to distill out into coherent narratives.