“The story is always better than your ability to write it.” — Robin McKinley
Greetings People of Earth:
A few years ago, I wrote my first South by Southwest Guide to Surviving the Nerdpocalypse, which included this handy Things To Do map of Austin. In just a few days, the post became the most read piece I’ve written since leaving Wired and MIT’s Technology Review.
Last year, I wrote the 2012 follow up that picked up a few important tidbits that I missed the year before and explored a bit of what you should do in Austin to make sure you don’t completely burn out.
As this year’s event is about to begin, I thought I’d add a few more things to the list of Things To Do in Austin When Your Dead.
First, though, a brief list of what I got right:
A few more additions this year:
Yes…And: The best advice I give my students comes from the world of improv theater. When you’re working with somebody, responding “yes…and” continues the conversation, while “no…but” brings that conversation to a halt. Remember that as you interact with people.
Whole Foods: I can’t impress upon you enough the importance of eating good food. In Texas, we fry the hell out of everything and vegetables are hard to come by. Stop at Whole Foods, and stock up on SuperFood, fruits, and other munchies. Trust me.
Your hiking pack: When I come to SXSW, I bring my REI Trail 25 hiking pack and Nalgene 2-liter water bottle. It has a place for my computer/tablet, 2 big pockets on the side for water and food storage, padded straps, and so much more. People make fun of me on Friday. By Saturday night around 5 pm, they think I’m a freaking genius. By Monday, when their backs are hurting, I’m a step beneath Einstein. Bring your hiking equipment.
Town Lake: There’s 3, 5, and 10-mile running loops around Town Lake (which is right downtown and next to the Austin Convention Center. Bring your running shoes, and run. Even if you don’t run. You need the exercise. You will feel gross after this conference because you are going eat. Texas-style. Even if you go to Whole Foods.
Remember the podcasts: SXSW puts up all the sessions throughout the year. Even if you miss something, you can hear it later. So don’t be a lunatic trying to get from place to place. You won’t make it anyway. And you’ll look like a lunatic.
Have dinner with strangers: Get out of downtown to South Congress or South First Street and eat dinner with people you have just met. In the two decades I’ve been coming to SXSW, I’ve made more friends than I can count, and I’ve done it the same way. Dinner.
Free: Not everything at SXSW requires admission. There’s a host of things going on around the city. Do them:
EDU and V2V: The conference is more than just a conference, it’s a way of thinking and it goes on all year. A last-minute snafu in my schedule will keep me from SXSWEdu this year, but next year I’m going for sure. And this August I’ll be in Los Vegas for SXSWV2V.