SXSW Madness 2011

I did a photojournalism piece for Imperica after my trip to SXSW last week. Here it is:

Every March, Austin has an influx of geeks. SXSW is almost legendary in its popularity as the place to be seen if you are, you know, with it – but that’s not what it is. SXSW Interactive, at least, is about people who love the internet coming together to be inspired, network and party in an atmosphere soaked with sun, margaritas and BBQ – and then so much more.

This is a snapshot of the 5 days I was in Texas this year – Austin as I will always remember it:

Austin is super-connected: taxi drivers accept payment by Square, Foursquare and Gowalla users battle it out for supremacy in every bar. One of this year’s new features from Foursquare during SXSW is a partnership with American Express where AmEx users get $5 back for every $5 spent – an Austin special.

SXSW this year was bigger than ever before, with close to 20,000 attendees for the Interactive festival alone. Everywhere you went, and especially in the Austin Convention Centre which was the heart of the festival, you saw people, people and more people.

And within the Convention Centre, I couldn’t fail to notice stickers, posters, screens and corporate logos. They shouted at you everywhere: ‘look at the number of check-ins, the number of Instagrams, the special offers, the competitions, the freebies, look look look!!’

Austin in spring is wonderful: the buildings seem brighter with the sun’s rays bouncing off the walls, colours seem to pop everywhere, and the world in general seems a nicer place. Yes, the sun can do that, for those of us who live in London that don’t remember! You will also find yourself being constantly distracted by quirky signs of all kinds.

But as soon as 6pm falls and the daily SXSW talks and panel sessions end (the evening does start earlier for many though!), the bars of the city become the focus. It’s like an exodus, but thankfully there are so many places to choose from that the question is only really whether you want to party or chill, down tequilas or swig the beers.

And so 5 days passed by in a cloud of sensory and information overload.

Did anyone say it’s time for SXSW 2012?

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