A Word to the Wise: Advice for SxSWi

It is that time of year again. The hype is here and the majority of the social media fish bowl is about to embark upon the colorful city of Austin, Texas for five days of chit chat and parties. SxSW Interactive begins today. Let the festivities begin, but not without a word to the wise…

While I will not be in attendance (I am both glad of this fact, but disappointed I will not be able to see such a large gathering of my friends and acquaintances in one location), I wanted to share some food for thought to those in Austin for the event. During the times I spent at SxSW in years past, it was not the panels that intrigued me and kept me paying such an exorbitant amount of time and money to return, but the ad hoc conversations with friends and strangers that occurred in the hallways of the convention center or in a rare pocket of semi-quiet in a bar during one of the numerous after hour parties.

I stumbled across an article, The Persistence of Mass Culture, from New York Magazine written by Adam Sternbergh that summed up my thoughts entirely:

“We spend more time talking about what we think we’ll think than what we thought…As it turns out, social media are just that—social. And all our Twitter feeds and Tumblrs need a parade of shared experiences in order to thrive. No wonder we’ve shifted the emphasis from post-event breakdown to pre-event build-up: Analysis (here’s what it is) is finite compared to speculation (what will it be?), which is inexhaustible. Once we experience something en masse—or even as we experience it—we splinter off to our myriad forums to broadcast our personal takes. Then we look quickly toward the next mass event on the horizon, and wonder what everyone will say about that.”

During this conference, everyone will be in such a rush to tweet in real time the flub-ups and judgments throughout the day…panels will be regurgitated in short blog posts…tweets about the social improprieties that occur after hours will be in abundance, but actual analysis of what was said and done will be rare. Please take the time to think beyond what is easy. Share the wisdom you speak of in those ad hoc conversations. Be less concerned about meeting the Who’s Who crowd and reflect upon lessons learned. Think not about the next party, but what you have gained in the present. Please…ask the tough questions and go beyond the talk of 101 and what ifs to what could be and what we have the potential to accomplish. Don’t be all talk while at SxSW…walk the walk.

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  • http://profile.typepad.com/lpt LPT

    Good reminder Lauren – thanks!