I’ve been to Austin 4 times in my life but all trips were before “Keep Austin Weird” was a tag line. I’ve never been to SXSW or the newer SXSWEdu, but am considering attending it next year. Audrey Watters at Hack Education has a very interesting take on vibe of the event and some of the ‘weirdness’ — from a divide between educators and entrepreneurs to sponsor influence. Enjoy.
And it’s rarely the panels or keynotes themselves that are the most rewarding at any conference. Rather it’s the hallway and dinner conversations. These are more likely when and where those difficult and productive conversations happen. I do appreciate that SXSWedu provided more physical spaces and allotted times to encourage this sort of thing; but I can’t help but think that a more unconference-y SXSWedu would be weirder, less scripted, less corporate, and as such mo’ better. Looking at what SXSW Interactive has become, however, I won’t hold my breath.
Like all events that I attend, it’s the people — face-to-face — that make the travel worth it. New friends. Old friends. People I haven’t seen since last year in Austin —that’s key and that could well be the makings of a nascent SXSWedu community. But it’s pretty damn nascent, and I do wonder how much damage that “tension” between educators and entrepreneurs and that obvious corporate agenda has done to it.
So will I go back next year? I don’t know. It depends on if you’re going. It depends on the major sponsor, and hence the keynote speaker. (I have my predictions already about who that’ll be. Do you?) And frankly I think it depends, a year from now, on how “weird” — “punk” weird or “puke!” weird — ed-tech has become.
I am disappointed that the schism between entrepreneurs and educators is so obvious at SXSW and want to believe there are many natural points of shared interest, goals, and even techniques. Love the graphic below that was included in the piece.