So I went to SXSW, the three party tech, music and film conference in Austin, Texas. What made it this year, and some of my highlights were not the sessions themselves but the networking opportunities and the people I attended the conference with and new people I met. And for those new to SXSW, SXSW stands for South by South West, and I mainly attended the Interactive section. Here’s a good set of tips for SXSW noobies.

That’s not to say the sessions weren’t good.

However I started with the plan that; i) I did not want to go to panels as panels had been really poor in previous years, and; ii) Not to attend things too obvious – or too close to what I know, the best session I’d been to in previous years are those that were a bit out there.

Themes and sessions SXSW

So some of the sessions that were great were as follows;

1) Artificial Intelligence and machine learning themes:

  • Machine learning intro (and a bit dirty), specifically it was giving an overview of the landscape of AI, machine learning and deep learning, which was very interesting.
  • Emotional intelligence and machines, this included some amazing footage of a computer interpreting the emotions of Steve Jobs as he was talking about the events that led to the creation of the iPhone.
  • Speaking with machines past and future, and live coding demo – fabulous, and it was fabulous because it was interesting, a gift in my understanding of the subject, and the live coding demo was great.

2) IoT or the Internet of Things

  • IoT and retail, and how IoT can be used to enhance the shopping experience.

3) Maker spaces and creating labs at work

  • How to create space for making the workplace, and examples from companies such as IBM.
  • Having a tour of the Fjord Design agency’s office was fabulous, and very inspirational it was too!

4) Misc themes

  • Typography, and how it influences style, including lots of cool typography graphics.
  • Detroit, a hot bed for startups, involving someone I knew from Imagination.

Parties and networking at SXSW

Here are some of the parties and social / networking opportunities we attended. This truly adds another dimension to the event with the socialising, partying and overall merriment in the evenings:

  1. The Fjord party – it was great fun, with some interesting discussions.
  2. The Fast Company Grill & Ford – some fun to be had, and fabulous discussion with Imagination, old contacts and new contacts made.
  3. Karaoke evening, pure fun, no talking or networking done that night!

Finally, I may or may not be going through my notes and providing some more back ground on some of the topics above! To conclude it was an awesome event, and I’m looking forward to returning next year, fingers crossed.