I’m trying to figure out how to write this without sounding too grumpy. But I have to say that, in total, I’m pretty dissatisfied with South by Southwest. And that dissatisfaction stems almost entirely from the scale of the event. The numbers I heard was that attendance was in the 4,000-5,000 range.
Actually, the dissatisfaction is rooted in my inability to live in the present. Because of it’s size, there’s always a lot of things going on simultaneously at SXSW. And because I live in a world of continuous partial attention, I have trouble staying in the moment, as I want to optimize the potential of my experience, which means scanning the horizon for whatever might be better than what I’m doing right now.
Along with this is a paradox of choice problem. Monday night, there were no fewer than 5 simultaneous evening events that intrigued me. How do you commit? How do you feel good about that commitment?
And then there were the lines. I simply will not wait in a line to go to a club. But you couldn’t not wait in lines Monday night. Only then to enter that club, pressed against others, shouting to be heard.
What I realized, and what I need to do if I return to SXSW, is that in order to enjoy what SXSW Interactive has become (and boy, has it changed since 1999) I have to take a more Zen-like approach, ignoring all the Things I Could Be Doing, and focus on simply getting the most out of whatever I Am Doing.