I’m off to my favorite exchange of knowledge, The iMedia Summit. There are several summits throughout the year, each with a different attendee list and content focus. There’s not a right or wrong conference to go to. Over the years’ I’ve elected to attend iMedia over SXSW (yes, I have been to a SXSW) for a few key reasons:
iMedia is invite only and at most there are 400 total people in attendance. Just like I think you get better quality out of a smaller social graph, I think the same holds true for a conference. SXSW is a free for all with so many people, that unless you know someone who knows someone who knows someone your chances for creating meaningful connections is tough.
You’ll find more diversity in gender, race, background and experience at an iMedia, especially on the presenter/panel side. I think diversity is important because it adds to the points of view. I talked to a friend who wen to this year’s SXSW and he was blown way with how similar the thinking was. I tend to agree.
There’s less ego at iMedia. There has to be. With less than 400 people, it’s tough to be a jerk and get away with it.
iMedia is less of a party. Don’t get me wrong; we know how to have fun. But, SXSW is just as much about the parties as it is about the content. No thanks. I’ll take less booze and more brains all the time.
The panels and presentations are much better. It seems like anyone can present sat a SXSW. I know that’s not true, but there’s a way to game the system to ensure you become a presenter. It’s substantially tougher at iMedia.
SXSW is a great conference. I’ll most likely be attending next year. But, there’s a reason I haven’t missed attending at least 1 iMedia event a year for the past 7 years and it’s been nearly 10 years since my last SXSW.