I took a different approach to SXSW Interactive this year. I flagged only one or two panels that I really wanted to see, and then I kept my schedule relatively open so I could explore. I stumbled across some fun experiential events, like the one pictured above by the Knight Foundation. (If you listen to NPR, then you’ve probably heard of the Knight Foundation and their efforts toward an informed and engaged public.)
The party was County Fair themed, and there were acroyogis, a guy on stilts, hula hoopers and fun little interactive displays. The food and drink selection, while completely fatty and mostly fried, was delicious. Mmmm… truffle oil parmesan fries.
The PBS Lounge was pretty sweet. I got my picture taken with Cookie Monster, and they hosted a little happy hour where I got my first free Shiner Bock. Hey, I missed out on all the booze last year due to pregnancy, so I had to take advantage, ok? 🙂 They were also giving away t-shirts, and I’m the biggest sucker for a free tee.
I managed to run into my friend Logan, and we hopped on the Hootsuite Pubcrawler. It’s kind of amazing if you think about how many 10s of 1000s of people are roaming around downtown, and I run into a friend. In fact, I ran into a few friends on the street, including a Twitter friend I made last year after we realized we were attending a bunch of the same panels. Audrey and I happened to be crossing at the same intersection, and I had to double check her badge before finally asking, “Audrey??”
And then, there are the celeb sightings! I saw cast members from The Final Girls – Nina Dobrev, Taissa Farming and Malin Ackerman. I joined another Twitter friend to get a selfie with supermodel Karlie Klass. While I was sad to miss Mark Duplass’s keynote, I ran into him at a hotel and snagged a quick pic. (By the way, I was holding a box of donuts and napkins, so this was probably the most awkward handling of my phone for a picture possible. Guess I need more practice.)
We even found time to get the kids out to enjoy some of SXSW. The Game of Thrones exhibit was a lot smaller this year, but we had a good time on the throne and virtual sword fighting. The big kid referred to it as the Sword Fighting Festival.
The swag this year was pretty sweet. I packed light and wanted to leave with only good stuff in my bag. Local Austin jewelry brand Kendra Scott had giveaways on the street and at their avant garden party, where everyone got to walk away with free earrings.
Google Fiber was giving away cardboard virtual reality viewers after experiencing a demo. Clearly, the big kid hogged it up when I got home. And by the way, there’s a fun Divergent/Insurgent virtual reality app to promote the movie, so I’m glad I have one of these cardboard viewers now to try some of these experiences out.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t sit in some great panels. But I felt like I got to enjoy SXSW more this year than feeling frazzled trying to catch panel after panel after panel. A+ to brands, stepping up their game at SX in 2015!