SXSW and the UK Digital Mission

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SXSW image by benjamin ellis

SXSW image by benjamin ellis

This week I’m going to be reporting from the South by South West Interactive (SXSWi) festival in Austin Texas. SXSW is World’s largest digital and interactive festival/trade-show/conference/party/event/get-together. Around 20,000 people will be joining me in Austin to uncover the latest thinking in digital and, I suspect,  to network like nutters.

I’ve been looking for an excuse to make it to SXSW for years. A few months ago my prayers were answered and FreshNetworks was picked by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to be one of 40 companies chosen to represent the UK at the festival. The grandly titled Digital Mission aims to help UK digital companies expand internationally and develop overseas business relationships.

The list of events is monsterous. It’s taken me a few hours to get my itinerary in order. I suspect I have fallen into classic SXSW-newbie mistake of trying to plan out a perfect route between each session to ensure a schedule that optimises my time here. I’ll probably find the plan goes in the bin half-way through day1 one.

some frantic session planning on the plane

Some frantic session planning on the plane

Here are just three of the sessions I am looking forward to:

  • Time + Social + Location. What’s next in mobile experiences - Foursquare and Gowalla are hot properties inn the social media world at the moment. This session includes Naveen from Foursquare.
  • Can the Real Time Web be Realised - a panel debate featuring some great speakers - Scott Raymond, co-founder of Gowalla, Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb and Bret Slatkin from Google who created PubSubHubBub which you will hear a lot about in 2010.
  • Banking 2.0 - financial services driven by people and emerging technologies - as a social media agency, FreshNetworks has always done a lot in the financial services sector, so I am keen to test some ideas we’ve been discussing back at base.

And finally, one of the delights of coming to SXSW as part of the Digital Mission is the opportunity to spend lots of time with other UK entrepreneurs. I have always found that spending time with peers not only gives me new ideas, but also (because I’m rather competitive) it tends to raise the level of my personal ambition.

There are a few companies that I am especially interested in learning more about:

  • oneDrum - embedding collaboration in Microsoft Office documents
  • Silence Media - cost per engagement ad network for video banner ads
  • Slicethepie - crowdsourced band/music funding

Let me know if you want me to bring you anything back from Texas.

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  1. Sam Michel:

    Good work on the planning front. You might find that it goes out of the window, especially as some of the more popular sessions fill up quickly, but at least you’ll have a rough idea of where to head.

    The great thing about SXSW is the huge variety, so even if you don’t make all of your sessions, there will be plenty of other things to keep you entertained, thinking, and chatting with people.

    Don’t forget that the Austin Convention Center is pretty massive, so it can take a good 10 mins to get between rooms at the opposite end of building.

  2. LStacey:

    I plan to make the trip myself one day. Don’t worry too much about the schedule. I’ve always found the back channel conversations at these events are the most useful thing. I’ll be watching the digital back channel from over here in Blighty. Enjoy!

  3. ghd uk:

    Not to think about so many things! Happy live each day!

  4. ghd uk:

    I plan to make the trip myself one day.