SXSW contrasts

I’m at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference for the first time in its 14-year history. It holds great promise as a fusion of film, music and interactive digital media, but my first impressions are that the organizers need to drink more of their own Kool-Aid.

This conference is about the leading edge of design and user experience in digital media. However, the conference website is anything but intuitive. Try finding the schedule of sessions there. Compliments to the organizers, though, for providing a nice interactive calendar app.

Registration just doesn’t make sense. Even if you’re pre-registered, you need to fill out a card to have your badge processed (why wasn’t this done in advance?). You fill out the card on the bottom level of the Austin Convention Center, then ride the escalator to the top level to get your badge, a process that requires having your picture taken (why is this necessary) and then waiting for a prinout. Then you have to go back to the floor level to get your schedule, then back to the top level to attend a session.

The show bag is being given out in an enormous first-level room that looks 90% empty. Why this wasn’t used for registration is unclear. For a conference designed by techies who pride themselves on efficiency, the whole thing is pretty chaotic.

Let’s hope the content is worth the aggravation!

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