It has taken me so long to recover from the madness of this year’s SXSW—and specifically, this stuffed avocado—that I had to wait an entire three weeks to write about it.
You’ve probably heard already about the overcrowding and overcommercialization of almost every aspect of SXSW this year. It’s all true. People had to stay so far away from the convention center that they had to be shipped there via FedEx. At least they were guaranteed to be there by 9am.
Luckily I kept busy at a special Fast Company stage sponsored by PepsiCo, where I got to interview people like my good friend Khoi Vinh about the future of reading online. You can see the video of our interview:
It was a lot of fun to do these one-on-one interviews where we could really dig into some deeper, more salacious issues (Gawker! HuffPo! The New York Times paywall!). I also interviewed Ric Grefé, the executive director of AIGA, who had some really interesting stories to tell about that ill-fated Gap redesign.
Honestly, though, most of my time not interviewing people was spent away from the convention center, at the off-site, unofficial happenings and mini-conferences. Like the pop-up for Etsy, where you could upcycle your swag bag, paint a shot glass, or make a musical instrument out of a circuit board. I was so impressed, I wrote a story about this convergence of high-tech/low-tech culture for Fast Company.
I also got to meet some really interesting new people, like Micki Krimmel, who founded NeighborGoods, where you can share or borrow stuff with your community. I wrote about their new launch, and since then they not only got Kickstarter funding, they also won best “bootstrapped” startup at the SXSW Accelerator competition.
The highlight of the trip had to be winning this Peeps gift bag from Foodspotting that contained not only several packs of Peeps, but their new candy called Peepsters (like Rolos with marshmallow in the middle), a t-shirt with a QR code larger than my head, and of course this stylish Peeps-on-ecstasy totebag. (THIS YEAR’S EASTER WILL BE BROUGHT TO YOU BY FOODSPOTTING. EVERYONE DOWNLOAD THE FOODSPOTTING APP! FOODSPOTTING, FOR ALL YOUR FOODSPOTTING NEEDS.)
Another highlight, although not nearly as exciting as the Peeps bag, was spotting Conan O’Brien as he walked out of the Mexican restaurant we were eating at. Although it wasn’t much of a spot, as the man is easily nine feet tall and has hair so bright it apparently emanates this red glow.
The answers are presented in a cool slideshow-like storytelling format called Projeqt. My answers included a plug for my must-have technology tool (above), a thumbs down for “innovation,” and a thumbs up for hand-written thank you notes.
Of course, a big part of SXSW is the parties but there was really only one to go to. The party sponsored by Fast Company had it all: Rye Rye and Theophilus London, a bunch of white people dancing to rap music, and light-up ice cubes. It was not just one of the best SXSW parties I’ve ever been to, not just one of the best Fast Company parties I’ve ever been to, it was maybe one of the best parties OF ALL TIME. Congrats to my hard-working co-workers for a job well done.
And congrats to the hardest-working people on the dance floor! That’s me and Jessi with our partner in sweat Lydia behind us. Note that Jessi and I are in nearly-matching outfits, which has to be the single greatest compliment ever since she is my style icon. Seriously, check out her project: One Week of Undies.
Afterwards we were so hyped up on hip hop there was nowhere else to go but an 80’s dance party.
And later that night, another highlight of the trip arrived innocuously on the corner of Red River and 9th Street. The RVIP Lounge, a mobile karaoke unit, safely transports the drunks and the divas to other alcoholic destinations. And you get to sing Ace of Base along the way. I was so impressed, I wrote about them, too.
And wouldn’t you know it: They’re from LA. I may never need to go back to Austin again.