A First Timers Trip to SXSW: Day 1 – Arrival

March 11, 2010

8:02 pm

I have never been to SXSW.  Actually, I have only been to a few tech conferences in general, and definitely nothing as enormous as SXSW.  I arrive in Austin with mixed feelings about the entire experience.  On one hand, I am  a bit terrified about the sheer size and magnitude of this event, and on the other,  find myself a bit excited about the prospects of seeing some amazing panelists, getting some great photography, and meeting some new people outside of our DC ecosystem.

I plan on reporting back here on and off about my experience as a first-timer and how things are going, in addition to our regular coverage of panels and events.

But for now, I don’t want this to be a “how to handle SXSW series,” because I have no idea myself. Instead, I’ll offer my perspective on my experiences here and how I prepared for the conference.  At the very least, we can all learn together the ins and outs of navigating the fray.

So let me give you a little insight on how I prepared and what my plans are as we head into the first day:

  1. I went through the full schedule on my.sxsw.com and picked out everything I thought looked interesting.
  2. I went back and refined my schedule, selecting two panels during for each time slot.  That way, in case I go to my first choice and it is too crowded or uninteresting, I have a back-up on hand without having to take more time to look at the program.
  3. I went to Micro Center and bought a USB battery backup so I can recharge my phone on-the-go after hours of tweeting and checking in.
  4. After checking in for my badge at the event site, I took the SXSW pocket guide and literally mapped out my venues for the following day. Like I said, I have never been here before and a little preparation (I hope) goes a long way.
  5. I made sure all my devices were charged up and ready for the evening’s activities.

I think the only other goal I have as I anticipate the upcoming few days is: TAKE IT EASY.  It’s like going to Disney World; you will not be able to see everything, so pace yourself and do the best you can.  Now, I know a lot of the SXSW vibe is about the nightlife and parties, but I can live without a party or two.  From what I hear, it’s a lot of long lines and sold-out open bars ….  So don’t get a terrible case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out); take some time to recharge your batteries for the new day ahead.

Stay tuned for more reports from Day 2 – The Conference Begins – and see if I survive. 😉

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Jimmy Gardner is a Senior Unix/Windows Engineer, a lover of technology and photography. Follow him online at @jjgardner3 and enjoy his portfolio at jjg3photo.com/.

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