It’s my first year to formally attend SXSW Interactive (previously I only attended the film part of the Film/Interactive/Music fest and then crashed the evening interactive parties to mix with interesting tech people). Spare observations so far:
1.) You can’t walk fifteen feet without someone trying to hand you a.) a Zone energy bar or b.) a Monster energy drink.
2.) Microsoft really can’t catch a break here. People snicker when the Bing promotional folks try to offer free rides or talk up their product, the “It’s All About the Browser” presentation only introduced Internet Explorer 8 to be nice and Stiles won’t even go into the Silverlight “lounge” (one of many sitting areas around the convention center to recharge your phone and chillax) for fear it’s seen as implicit approval of Microsoft.
3.) Why do I keep seeing people wear sunglasses indoors?
4.) There are parties galore, but the sponsored, please-present-your-badge elements are turning bars that are considered fratty or dumpy or otherwise lame ANY OTHER DAY OF THE YEAR into faux-elitist locations. FAIL.
5.) So far the only journalism panel I’ve attended is one called “Media Armageddon: What Happens When the New York Times Dies”, in which The NYTimes’ David Carr played the role of traditional media punching bag to Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas’ fist. For a stretch there, they tussled while two other panelists and a moderator sat there. Carr sounded far more reasonable. Both wound up agreeing on most points. But overall, what a sorry, wasted opportunity for a good panel. That moderator did not organize or direct that conversation in any discernibly interesting or productive way.