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SXSW 2009

Last week, several Mind Candies attended the annual South by Southwest Interactive Festival – five days of exciting and inspiring panels, talks, presentations and events from the best and brightest minds in the new media industry.

The festival attracts digital creatives, hardcore geeks and entrepreneurs from around the world, who descend upon the city of Austin, Texas, to share their passion and creativity, pass on their knowledge, try out new cutting-edge technologies and of course attend amazing parties.

Though some of the team had been to last years event, this year Divinia and Toby actually ran a Core Conversation entitled Playing to Learn – Educating Kids Through Gaming, which was very rewarding, resulting in a great debate between the attendees.

Divinia and Toby at the 'Playing to Learn' core conversation

This is what the team had to say about their experiences at SXSW 2009:

Michael

SXSW is my favourite conference of the year and 2009 was no exception. It’s difficult to choose one panel that stood out above all others. Henry Jenkins was insightful as ever on the ‘What Do We Learn From Gaming’ panel. The Mommy Bloggers panel was very well run by Beth Blecherman and featured lots of useful insights and debate.

My favourite though was probably the keynote given by the Zappos CEO entitled ‘Delivering Happiness’. Zappos is an increidble company that has elevated Customer Service to a fine art.

The slides from the keynote are well worth checking out: http://www.slideshare.net/zappos/zappos-sxsw-3140

The best place to eat was the ever popular Iron Works BBQ shack, and the best party accolade was a close run thing between Tumblr and the Rackspace Cloud Party. My one word of warning to attendees in 2010 would be to avoid the Nuclear Taco tent at all costs.

Divinia

“I was so inspired by the Zappos talk, valuable lessons from someone who has made mistakes and learned from them.

My stand out favourite from the event was Larry Chiang’s ‘VC Secrets’, I transcribed the most interesting points from the session on to my blog. Towards the end, the panel of high profile VCs (Ken Howery – Founder’s Fund, Sharon Wienbar – Scale Venture Partners, Rob Hayes – First Round Capital) really started exposing the things they love and hate about being approached by entrepreneurs, providing some illuminating insights! Definitely worth checking out if you want to raise money any time soon.”

Toby

“This year at SXSW I made it my mission to take full advantage of the huge range of topics, and tried my hardest to spread my attendance over a largest variety of subjects possible. I particularly enjoyed the more abstract discussions about the changing face of work and life by people that are finding new ways to merge productivity and passion – and make a living doing it.

‘Is the Planned Life Even Worth Living Any more’ by Melissa Pierce ( look out for her new film, ‘Life in Perpetual Beta’) was a great discussion, The keynote from Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos was very inspiring and I found a lot of parallels with the speakers in the ’100% Time: Lessons Learned from a Self-Organized Company’ discussion and my approach to project and team management.”

Ryan

“There were so many brilliant talks that I attended, but I found the various UI talks, such as ‘Gestural UI: iPhone Taught Us Flick and Pinch. What’s Next?’, the Microsoft Surface demonstration and ‘iPhone Development for Experienced Web Developers’ fascinating – some really clever and intuitive stuff being developed in the field of gesture based user interfaces which, thanks in part to the iPhone’s success, are really popular right now.

I also really enjoyed a special screening of the new Richard Linklater film ‘Me and Orson Welles’ at Austin’s Paramount Theatre, as well as the multitude of parties and events in the evenings.”

SXSW Group Shot

Trevor

“This was my first time at SXSW so I wasn’t sure what to expect, luckily there was lots of arty stuff to keep me entertained! My favorite bits were Dr Sketchy’s life drawing at Emo’s where I promptly grabbed a sketchbook and didn’t budge for the next 3 hours! Then there was the ‘Massive Black Imagination’ party where I got to meet some legendary concept artists – my heros no less – and watch them work, I’m still a little awestruck!

Meeting Ben Templesmith of 30 Days of Night fame was also a pleasant surprise, as was the Austin bike zoo – riding the “Rattle Snake” bike was loads of fun…even if I did break it!

I relished the opportunity to sketch when I had time, my trusty Moleskine rarely left my side and is now overflowing with doodles.

Burritos, live bands, friendly people, the Hideout Coffee shop, Segway racing, and lots of sunshine rounded off things pretty well!”

Emma

“The atmosphere at SXSW was something that I’ve never experienced before and I thought it was amazing. My favourite panel was the ‘VC Secrets’ talk, it was interesting to see the idea of fundraising from the other side. There was a lot of input from entrepreneurs in various stages of their start ups and hearing their enthusiasm and belief in their ideas was very inspiring.

I also enjoyed the huge debate that came of Divinia and Toby’s ‘Playing to Learn’ core conversation. Education is a subject that people feel strongly about so it was interesting to see how views on it differ from country to country.

All of this was made even better by the brilliant people, great parties and plenty of food, drink and sunshine!”

Cat

“SXSW was by far one of my best experiences in a long time. The talks were amazing, the people were wonderful, and on top of that, the weather was beautiful.

A couple of talks really stood out for me. Firstly, there was the ‘How to be Indie in Games’ one, with a panel that would make any gamer geek star-struck.  Some other key ones were the ‘Games For the People, By the People’ talk which discussed user generated content, and the ‘Designers and Developers’ talk, where guys from companies such as Digg discussed how they minimise conflicts and improve communication across the teams.

Aside from the talks, there were many other awesome events. The burlesque show at Emo’s provided a brilliant opening night. Then there was the great two hour Segway tour around the city.”

All in all, it was an amazing rewarding experience for us all, one that I would definitely recommend to anyone who hasn’t been but is considering it, and we all hope to be back in Austin for SXSW 2010!

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