Homeward Bound: Reflecting on SXSW
I’ve left sunny, friendly Austin behind and returned to colder, crankier Philadelphia, and can now reflect on my virgin tour of SXSW. The verdict: good, but not great. I had looked forward to attending this festival for so many years, and I fear I may have missed my window, the window when I had the stamina to tramp all day from session to session, and still be alert and energetic enough for nighttime events that begin at midnight and beyond.
Perhaps it was good but not great because there was no big new thing announced at the fair. Perhaps it was good but not great because, while sessions were uniformly good, there were speakers who were disappointing and less than revelatory. But hey, I learned new things, met interesting people, and there was that free Samsung battery replacement for my Galaxy S3!
What I heard in Austin will guide me as I work with my Book Business and Publishing Executive colleagues to plan future stories and sessions for our annual Publishing Business Conference & Expo on up-to-the-minute topics and technologies. It will remind me to also help our readers stretch out of their comfort zone, and take in not only important information related to the trade, but also new ideas from the greater world of business, and to pay attention to the creative process.
I’ve been on the road a lot in the last six months, and have had the great pleasure of visiting some wonderful cities and publishing communities, from Austin to San Francisco to Oxford, Mississippi. In each one I learn something about how people continue to write and publish great new books and magazines, and to disseminate ideas. And then to share them with each other, with us. That, I think, is the essence of SXSW: a great big share session that keeps us all keepin’ on. See you there next year?