SXSW Day Two: Waiting in Line


Editor’s note: This is the second journal in a series documenting Carl Shultz’s first time attending SXSW Interactive. Check back daily to read the rest of the series.

I jumped out of bed.  Of all the days I would be attending SXSW, this was the one I looked forward to the most.

Julian Assange would be Skypeing in from London, and Neil deGrasse Tyson was the day’s keynote. I was completely geeking out.

I’ve long been a fan of Tyson’s work and personality, and was excited to have the bragging rights of having seen Assange speak live.

I arrived at the convention center at 9:30 a.m. and quickly heard the buzz that Assange’s event was already starting to fill up, so I made my way to exhibit hall 5 where it would be held.

Cell phone photo of the SXSW Julian Assange line.
Cell phone photo of the SXSW line to see Julian Assange Skype in.

I stood in line until 11 a.m. guaranteeing I had a spot in the hall.

Standing in line at SXSW is a curious thing.  It’s not like standing in line at the DMV or the post office – the act is the same, but it’s incredibly different.  At SXSW, standing in line is an opportunity, not a burden.

The energy at SXSW is already free-flowing; people are more social, open to meeting as many people as possible, and almost everyone is in a positive mood. I believe this is what makes standing around for 90 minutes bearable.

The lines at SXSW are perhaps the best opportunity during the day to meet people at the festival. Everyone is talkative in line, and right away you have something in common with all of them: interest in the event you’re headed into – and a shared pain of waiting.

In line, you can capture the best snap shot of SXSW’s liveliness.  My spot in line was a mirror to the bigger picture- reflecting the connections that drive the heart of the festival. This small observation has changed the way I see standing in line. Where I used to see a necessary evil, I now see an incredible opportunity to learn someone’s story.