SXSW 2019 recap. tea.


I'm not going to write a big review. I'm not even going to shamelessly recap the stuff we did.

[OK. We had lots of lovely reviews for Belongings. We did talks with the UN for International Women's Day and the sxsw conference centre on Editions at Play project. Hung out for a few days with all our favourite cultural folks (see 4.) My fav moments were meeting a Princess (Mary of Denmark) and a conversation about lesbian detective noire fiction that led to EAP being invited to Frankfurt Bookfair. nb. even royalty can't look cool in VR. ]

But here's the main reason I wanted to write. Sxsw seems firmly in flux, moving away from tech-bro and more into a safe space for tech, politics, hardware and culture to talk shop beneath the din of the music and the films.

"the physical experience is still a post-consumerist's nightmare of over-stimulation, multiplied by schwag, divided by eternal queues.”

I have been 4 times to SxSWi (Interactive) over the last 15years and I have LOW to MEh expectations. It's still, in so many ways, a daily waking dystopia. But I enjoyed the energy and momentum and the people this year - more than before.

4 takeaways to share.

1. SXSWi == Streaming (Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, HBO were HUGE unavoidable presences with big budget engagement).  Yes. Bold & CAPS. YT Red (?) or YT Originals were probably there too - but they didn't compete.

2. SXSWi == Politics. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Abrams, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (??). Beto O'Rourke. Elizabeth Warren and Margrethe Vestager - most (especially the last two) went hard on tech regulation and got standing ovations for it... ACLU had an enormous lot. (?!) NYT, CNN, Buzzfeed, Vice, Vox etc all the left'ish press had their own spaces and talks. (axios on this)

3. SXSWi == international diplomacy. From the UN to EU to Casa Peru. Lots of trade delegations and national 'houses' where previously there would have been technocrat 'houses'. Mainly promoting digital / creative export business.

4. SXSWi == alternative arts culture - yeah, I was as surprised as you. But there was a LOT of interesting conversation with former and future collaborators from all over the world. It was a genuine 'surprise' bonus to being there.  

Also - the parties were bigger, louder, and more free food but not as much fun as when you used to end up a random villa somewhere and no one knew why you were there or how to get back... But I could just be old now.

The main thing that remains the same.

1. Overall the sxsw content is still amazingly poorly curated, poorly managed, and poorly chosen (by the public) and mainly involves people in queues waiting for people on stage to stop marvelling that they are there / using oxygen. The conference badge is entirely necessary for every fringe activity / house / event / party however... but that's IT. :\

2. The physical experience is a post-consumerist's nightmare of over-stimulation, multiplied by schwag, divided by eternal queues.

3. Traditions die hard (and this literally happened): tech bro's still standing on street corners doing video calls by shouting and bemoaning wifi while they humble-brag themselves to death and complain bout the "lack of guys" present.

If you want actual detail I have more detail.

(*you don't want more detail)