Editor’s note: This is the first in a series documenting Carl Shultz’s first time attending SXSW. Check back daily to read the rest of the series.
This Friday marked the start of the 2014 South By Southwest Interactive Festival.
As a first time attendee and natural introvert, I was filled with the cliché emotional mix of excited and nervous. Excited for the experiences that awaited me over the next few days; Nervous for the mass amount of people I’d be around and need to interact with.
I arrived at the Austin Convention Center at 9 a.m. and was disappointed on both fronts.
The energy in the Center was dull- the social openness I had been told to expect was nowhere to be found.
The clock struck 11:00.
Suddenly, the center was filled with an overwhelming buzz of energy and conversation. There was not an empty space to be found. Newcomers were shaking hands with old friends and exchanging business cards with new acquaintances. THIS is what I expected.
I was stunned by all that was going on around me. How could I possibly connect with all of these people? The task seemed nearly impossible, but absolutely necessary.
Director of SXSW Interactive, Hugh Forrest gave his opening remarks. My initial assumption was all wrong.
“It’s not about connecting with thousands of people,” he said. “Meaningful one-on-one connections are the heart of South by Southwest.”
Now this all seemed less daunting- exciting even.
Noon. My phone dies.
Having not thought ahead- a mistake I will not make again over these next four days- I forgot my charger. My conditioned instinct was to panic- to feel disconnected. However, oddly enough I didn’t feel that way at all. Quite the opposite.
I recalled another statement by Forrest.
“South by Southwest is a living, breathing manifestation of the internet,” he said.
Bearing that in mind, I’m all too excited for what’s in store for day two.