It took only a matter of hours for Austin to transform from a city of tech nerds to a festival of music junkies as the CNN Grill, like so many tech moguls, stole away from Austin in the dead of night. (The CNN sign literally disappeared overnight, returning the space to its natural state as Max's Wine Dive.) Yes, the interactive portion of the SXSW program is dead and gone, but after a very brief lull of quiet and calm, the city has already been reborn as louder, rowdier place as the Music festival begins in earnest. It's almost like they won't even miss us when we're gone! (At least Texas gave this reporter a head cold to remember it by.)
Who knows if we'll be back next year, but we did learn some valuable lessons about the best way to approach SXSWi and as our parting shot, we figured we'd pass them along for any masochistic looking ahead to 2013:
What NOT to Do at SXSW:
- Go alone. Yes, there will always be other people in town that you know, but to truly survive this massive event, you need a dedicated conference buddy. Someone who you can maybe share a room with and always rely on to meet up for a meal, or keep you company while standing in line, or just commiserate with about the panels you missed.. The alternative is thousands of missed connections and a lot of wandering around asking how there can be so many people and no one to talk to.
- Wing it. The schedules are provided in advance for a reason. Use them, study them, and develop a plan of attack. Remain flexible, but if you think you can do it all on the fly, that's a recipe for always being in the wrong place at the wrong time and missing most of what you came here to do.
- Stay for the whole thing. A whole week of this stuff will crush the hardiest spirit. Arrive late, leave early and try not to schedule your flight for the same time when everyone else is trying to escape.