South by Southwest…what can I say that hasn’t been said. I felt like the bumble bee girl in the Blind Melon video “No Rain.” For someone who is unable to sit through a meeting without thumping her leg/foot 98% of the time, who gets lambasted for not following “the rules” on a regular basis, who sleeps with her iPhone and wakes up in the middle of the night to google something that surfaces in a dream, and whose biggest buying addiction is books, I felt reunited with “my kind.” SXSW is like a giant bazaar for starving geeks to greedily consume and share knowledge and information.
As much as I learned, the event would be not be what it is without the personal interaction. So here are my SXSW All-Stars, the people who made my SXSW experience stellar:
Most Beautiful: Qui Diaz, @beautfiulthangs
Qui and I knew of each other through Twitter but had never met in person or even exchanged tweets. When we were introduced, she was wearing a cowgirl hat & emanated a certain light and joy that felt completely familiar to me. Mary Oliver said, “Beauty without purpose is beauty without virtue…” and Qui’s Twitter bio speaks to her virtue: I heart nonprofits, blog about social media for social good & see beauty everywhere.
Most Refreshing: Guy Kawasaki, @guykawasaki
This guy was in the Blogger’s Lounge passing out Alltop stickers like a band promoter in a parking lot. Humility and modesty are a rarity in our culture and this web celebrity lacks the bravado and hubris too many of the “big names” possess.
Most Passionate: Sheri Graner Ray
Sheri, a Senior Game Designer for companies like Electronic Arts, Origin Systems, Sony Online Entertainment and Cartoon Network, spoke on the panel “Gaming as a Gateway Drug: Getting Girls Interested in Technology” and her passion is infectious. I hope companies listen up and understand that we need to get and keep girls in tech and gaming is one of the best ways to do this. The ones that do WILL dominate the market.
Most Interesting: David Heyman, @davidheyman
David makes geography & cartography cool. He’s hung out with lions and elephants in Kenya, does improv/stand-up comedy and has a vast amount of baseball knowledge.
Most Energizing: Gary Vaynerchuk, @garyvee
Gary Vee is like doing a triple shot of expresso while listening to AC/DC. If you get the chance to hear him speak in person, take it.
Most Impressive: Andy Carvin, @acarvin
As National Public Radio’s senior product manager for online communities, Andy understands news, journalism and the web 2.0 world. Since joining NPR, he’s been working to develop a new online strategy for the organization, including citizen journalism, social networking and user-generated content.
Most Sauce: Laura Fitton , @pistachio
I bonded with Laura over Twitter (I admit, mostly making fun of Andy McAfee). In person, she’s smart and down-to-earth, with a dollop of dead-on snark. She’s the type of person with whom you want to do business AND go grab a drink.
Most Hustle: Larry Chiang, @larrychiang
Good god, does the man ever stop working a room? I’m almost certain he sleeps in a collared shirt, cradling both his blackberry and iPhone in hand, mumbling thoughts about venture capital and credit scores. Check out his tips on “How to Work a Conference.”
Most Surprising: Christopher Barger, @cbarger
Christopher Barger, Director of Global Communications Technology at General Motors, was a surprise. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone from an American Motor Company at SXSW, yet alone on the panel “Digital Tsunami: Breaking News at Breakneck Speeds.” I’m still skeptical. It’s got to be a new way of doing business for how the United States approaches transportation or bow and parish at the feet the innovators of the industry.
Most Thought-Provoking: The panel for “OpenID, OAuth, Data Portability and the Enterprise”
The twitter stream from the panel paints a pretty good picture of the discussion: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=+%23sxswid
Joseph Smarr, Chief Platform Architect at Plaxo, gave a choice quote when he described the future of online identities and content: Ownership of user-generated content via open platforms is a “slippery salamander.”
My personal SXSW MVP: Michael Bassik, @mbassik
Michael is the reason I attended SXSW. I highly recommend listening to his panel “What your Startup Can Learn from Barack Obama and Howard Dean.” Thanks, Michael, for showing me the SXSW light:)
“He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.” ~William Blake