SXSW 2011
Photo credit: Shashi Bellamkonda

One of the perennial questions I get every year is whether I’m going to SXSW. The answer, unsurprisingly, is no. It’s not because SXSW isn’t a great show, one of the largest, with lots of incredible people at it. There are plenty. It’s not because it’s not fun – it is. The reason I don’t go is because I don’t work very well in the SXSW-style environment. It’s not because of the show, but my own personal shortcomings and perspective.

What environment is that? It’s a very busy, very attention-grabbing environment. When you pack hundreds of thousands of people into one area and a good chunk of them are either media or marketers, everyone tries to stand out really hard, shouts really loud (both metaphorically and literally), and tries to be seen. Nothing wrong with that, but that’s not an environment that I do particularly well in.

I don’t love large crowds in general (and after watching Apollo Robbins, you might not either), but I especially don’t work well in an environment where you have to initiate lots of surface random connections. That’s just not my style. There are plenty of people who do, who thrive in that sort of social butterfly situation, and for them, attending SXSW isn’t just a good idea, it’s also probably one of their most favorite events of the year.

So no, I won’t be at SXSW this year and haven’t ever been. For those who are going, I hope you have a wonderful time, meet lots of new people, be safe and smart, and enjoy great success from the event. It promises, as always, to be a legendary event.


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