SXSW 2011 so far... Jared Spool, Super, Indy Crew and GroupMe

Today marks the end of Interactive and beginning of Music. I feel like I've aged a year in the last 5 days. But it's been well worth it. 

The sessions (panels, duels, solos, keynotes) have been solid- overall. In general the trend that I noticed last year remains- the more people involved with a session the less likely it is to be very good. So I find the solos and keynotes to hold the most goodies. Jared Spool made me laugh and then cry a little as he challenged my ideas and preconceptions around Design during his incredible "Anatomy of a Design Decision" solo. Here's a video of him from a couple years ago. One of my favorite presenters, ever.

I could go on and on about the other sessions I attended, I will try to post a more thoughtful, cohesive blog later about some of the other sessions I attended. Probably on the SmallBox blog. 

Got to attend the premiere of Super with Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page in attendance along with the director James Gunn. Great film- funny, violent and touching. Ellen and Rainn are exceptional. Catch it when it comes out. It may shock you a little but it has a good heart. 

The Indy tech/start-up/marketing crew has been a real highlight, as it was last year. From Kristian Andersen's Craw Fish Boil on Friday night to the Verge meetup last night. Indy should be proud of the showing here at SXSW. I love hanging out with the Indy crew, maybe a little too much. I probably could have broke off from the pack more and networked but we have had a lot of fun. Matt Hunckler and Kristian really served as informal group leaders throughout the week. I was happy to follow.

Speaking of groups.

The big thing this year is group texting.

GroupMe has come out of nowhere and taken over SXSW. It's drop dead simple and you can start using it without creating an account or downloading the app. In fact many of us didn't even know what it was when James Paden set it up and we were using it to communicate back on Thursday. That seems so long ago now. GroupMe has become my go to app for coordinating between my friends. I predict it will blow up in short order. It has everything a social app needs to succeed. It solves a problem (group texting), almost no barrer to entry (a cell phone- not even a smart phone is required) and a killer app with lots of additional features like conference calling within groups. I have barely looked at Facebook since I've been here. Maybe that's because GroupMe thrives in an event environment but I think it will prove to be invaluable for many other applications- personal and business. 

The events in Japan have cast something of a shadow over SXSW but not as much as you might expect, or even hope. People aren't really talking about it but they are riveted to the CNN screens set up around town showing the devastation. It has certainly weighed heavily on my mind and my heart goes out to Japan. 

Ok, that's it for now.

I'm switching to Music mode and will be sitting on a panel tomorrow "The Virtual Music Scene". Hopefully I can catch some great bands as well.