Why I Didn’t Go To SXSW

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.

  • Anonymous

    I think SXSW is what you make of it. People that complain about repetition of panels or lack of diversity in the thinking didn’t do a good job of picking their panels, setting their schedule, and researching the speakers in each panel. There’s a lot to choose from and a lot to absorb. I make a point to cover all ends of the spectrum and seek out things that are out of my realm and do not directly apply to my job. I specifically avoid any panel that has an agency person speaking at it. That’s the first sign of a time waster.

    I think the size of SXSW is it’s advantage. It opens your mind further than any other conference for that reason alone. There is so much there, so many avenues, and so many different industries that you can expand your own thinking across all different mediums and creative avenues. I find smaller conferences to be too marketing/brand focused. I don’t want to just hear blowhards try and sound smart. I don’t want to debate. I don’t want to share my thoughts on XYZ. I just want to be exposed to new things outside of what I do everyday at my job, absorb what I can, and come back with a different mindset.

    Same goes for the party. People that think of it as a big party tend to also be the people that go there for the party and spend too much time partying.

    That’s my two cents. Hope to see you there next year.

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Digital dad to Cora and John. Love ironing, bourbon and BBQ; no necessarily in that order. Living life, like I stole it. I'm always up for a

spirited conversation. These are my thoughts and ramblings, not those of my employer.
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