Christine de la Huerta|Mar 9, 2012

SXSW Interactive is an annual conference for those living, breathing and dreaming in digital. So of course Digital Park journeyed over to Austin to bring you the most up to the minute content and access.

As I sat on the plane to Austin, my head swirled with all the possibilities that await me at SXSW Interactive. The schedule is jam-packed with keynotes, panel discussions, workshops, and more education than my brain can possibly handle in five days of day-and-night programming. Then there are the breakfasts, lounges, parties, after-parties, and other networking events. There are many interesting people to meet and business contacts to make. Where to start?

I’ve selected multiple events for each hour of the first three days. Don’t ask me when I am going to finish the rest; it takes hours to go through the thousands of options. Now I need to trim. But it’s a bit intimidating, so instead of attempting to fine-tune my schedule, I’m writing this.

How am I supposed to choose? For example, these are the options I’ve highlighted for just one time slot, 2:00 p.m. on Friday:

  • Keeping customers engaged by shaking s**t up
  • Newsjacking – How to inject your ideas
  • Tweak your talk workshop
  • Brands as patterns
  • The future of lifestyle media
  • TV Engagement – Does social media drive TV ratings?

I really could use a session on cloning right about now. Here’s 3:30 p.m.:

  • Effective social media presence in higher ed
  • Enhanced interrogation: the modern-day interview
  • We made this, and it’s not an ad
  • Potterize it! Sharing the magic of fan culture
  • Storytelling for entrepreneurs and start-ups

You get the picture. Here’s a link to the rest of my “schedule” so far. You can help me choose! Clients, colleagues and South Florida, let me know which issues you feel are most important. I’ll be sure to report back my findings right here on this blog.

However, in the interest of sparing what’s left of my sanity, I have a grand plan. And it doesn’t include being at EVERY single session named after the latest catchphrase (fan culture) or buzzword (storytelling). Here’s what I’m hoping to do to keep it simple:

  • Clients come first. If it has to do with a client’s business, it takes priority. (Higher Education? Check. TV? Check. Ahh, that simplified my 2 to 5 time block already.
  • Follow the fame. Some well-known web gurus and social media “celebrities” are making an appearance at SXSW. They usually have pretty interesting things to say (or else we wouldn’t hang on their every tweet and post). When in doubt, go with clout.
  • What’s new? If it’s the latest and greatest tool or solution (yikes, buzz word alert) in the industry, it is likely to make a splash at SXSW. I can’t predict what these may be; I never even realized I needed them. And of course I couldn’t have known it, because well, it’s brand new and making a debut at SXSW. THAT’s what I want to see!
  • Inspire me. I can probably find other effective educational programs outside of SXSW to learn the nitty gritty about video tagging or getting my site to rank higher on Google and Bing. I’m looking to SXSW to stretch my mind and imagine possibilities I haven’t even thought of yet. Ideas, approaches and perspectives that will activate my brain in new ways and help me come up with bold new strategies for Digital Park and rbb clients.
  • Socialize. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies and the innovative partners that serve them, SXSW brings together a community of some of the brightest minds in the online world. I would be remiss not to rub elbows and “Bump” iPhones with them.

These will be my GPS as I navigate SXSW. (Just adding one reality check — can I physically get from point A to point B in time!) Once I apply this as filter to my choices, perhaps my itinerary won’t be as frenetic as I expected after all. And the value of the experience will be that much sweeter.


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