What's SXSW All About? - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
10:03 AM
Allen Stern
Allen Stern

What's SXSW All About?

I am here in Austin, Texas, for the next week covering the SXSW Interactive festival. What's SXSW all about and why do I find it relaxing and jam-packed at the same time?

I am here in Austin, Texas, for the next week covering the SXSW Interactive festival. What's SXSW all about and why do I find it relaxing and jam-packed at the same time?SXSW (South by Southwest) is a combination of networking, typical conference panels/keynotes and parties. If you talk to 100 people attending SXSW, you will get a broad mix of why people attend. I attend because it gives me a chance to meet the people I've spoken with online over the past year.

While the tech bloggers are the "loudest", the majority of attendees are from the corporate world. From my nonscientific research, corporate Web developers make up the largest group, followed by Web designers and then all of the others (PR, marketing, advertising, etc.). The mix is wonderful as you get such diverse perspectives on any tech topic or issue.

The crowd continues to grow at SXSW -- this year, I waited 61 minutes in line to get my conference badge. Apparently, the conference grew 80% from 2007 to 2008 and will grow another 30% this year. It will be interesting to see how packed the sessions and other events are -- last year, the keynote with Mark Zuckerberg was so packed they had to open a second room which also was overloaded with people. The key, most agree, is to just go with the flow and realize you won't be able to do everything you planned but you will do things you never thought about and the combination will make for a great overall experience.

Here are some resources to keep up with what's going on during the festival:

Probably the biggest reason that SXSW is so popular is because of the price. For the number of days and the quantity of offerings, the price is amazingly reasonable. Compared with the other major conferences, which typically run between $1,000 and $3,000, SXSW at $350 makes it very attractive, especially in today's economic environment.

If you didn't make it to SXSW this year, consider attending next year. And if you do, book early for the best hotels and rates.

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