Some Personal Reflections on South by Southwest

Well what can I say? For the past week, I’ve been at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

From a business perspective, it was a productive week. I managed to speak to and show a few people the alpha version of our iChalkboard app and got some great feedback. I also met some amazing people working in startups; talking to minded people to exchange views/opinions without having to give a social media 101, or transmedia basics class means that we can get to the good stuff, quicker.

From a personal perspective, there have been quite a few firsts. For a start, its been my first trip to the US., Jess and I recorded our first series of daily podcasts (podcast page; Guardian Edinburgh blogpost), I had my first snow cone, chilli dog, korean bbq taco … and I went to my first live storytelling session! All of which has made me learn a few new skills and ticked some boxes of things to do.

The best aspect, I guess, has been the ability to step away from the usual hustle and bustle of Appleton Tower for a week. Although I never truly escaped from work (lots of skyping, emailing and demo-ing all the way through), it’s just been so nice to get some down time. Jess and I made quite the complementary team: I was Chief of Planning and Discipline, whilst Jess was Head of Entertainment. Between us, we managed to get to most of the sessions we wanted to go to and get the partying done at night time as well. This was all helped along by the very warm, homely, hospitality of Kim and Kevin Bacon.

As for the first US. city in my passport, Austin could not have been more fitting. The locals are doing a great job of “keeping Austin weird” with tons of local mom and pops stores, with little food trailers everywhere. The weather was hot without being humid, there was no rain, and it was actually comfortable to walk out at night without a big jacket.

I’m now at Newark Airport, in New Jersey, waiting for the flight back to Edinburgh. It has been fantastic fun, I’m hoping to make it back again next year.

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