A year ago, I had no idea what the letters SXSW signified. South By Southwest started as a small music festival in Austin, Texas, but has now grown into a collection of festivals encompassing music, film, media and interactive technologies. I have never been to SXSW, but I come close to feeling like I have, without leaving my house in France. Many of the 300 or so people I follow on Twitter are at the festival, and they are a talkative bunch. Overall, about 40 Tweets are appearing per minute that mention SXSW, so I know that Facebook made a big announcement there, the Driskill is the cool place to hang out, and the Pool party was pretty wild. Aside from the loud music, goody bags and networking, I feel like I’m catching a lot of what’s going on
I still haven’t really figured out how an arts festival became such a technology destination, but the Interactive event is certainly attracting a wide audience among people in the social software and collaboration industry. It would be nice if some of the European music festivals moved into interactive media, so I wouldn’t have to go so far. I could see the Holland Festival or Montreux Jazz Festival moving this way.
While I can fool myself into thinking that Twitter is a good substitute, it actually is mostly whetting my appetite to see what it is really like. I hope that I can find a way to make it to SXSW in meatspace next year. Cyberspace only takes you so far.