I was overwhelmed today. I say this to somewhat admit my own failings (I was exhausted and therefore asocial) and to offer a metaphor/piece of advice. South by Southwest is much like the Internet itself in that there is so much content, you have to create your own filters and on occasion, step away from the madness.
The three of us have been going non stop, except for the few hours we sleep at our hotel, since before the conference even started. Designing business cards, launching web sites, meeting with administrators etc. on top of our normal schedules.
Then you get into SXSW and there are interesting people everywhere, new gadgets to play with, great minds projecting wisdom and I took it all in and it buzzed all around to the point where I said ‘AHHHHHH.’ After the first panel this morning, which I gathered a few unintentional affirmations from a successful marketing guru (basically, listen to your users and talk to them and don’t get complacent even if you’re making $5oo mil a year), I stepped outside to sit in the sun and process what I’d seen the past few days.
It was beautiful, looking over Austin with some white street noise in the background, but at SXSW the noise doesn’t stay in the background. I was soon interrupted by a woman on her cell phone so I looked for somewhere else and popped into a panel on Writing Web Content. It interested me for five minutes, because I discovered that content management firms exist and would make a great career, but the room was dark and the panelists were soft-spoken.
Shay and I went to the trade show to pop around, watch some cool, yet imperfect 3D screenings, sign up for a few drawings, and talk to some presenters, but I was so tired I couldn’t muster up enough energy to be fully interested. I was also starting to get snappy, joyless and all-around cynical. I was Twitter at full capacity. I knew I’d reached THAT point.
For the first time in about 3 years, I had to take a nap.
This is where the advice comes in: book your hotel early and close to the convention center so that when you reach your breaking point, which is pretty much inevitable, you can escape the noise, re-energize your body and come back for more. Once I’d rested for about 2 hours, I got up bright eyed and caught a cab back to downtown Austin.
In my absence, they’d made some great contacts and I was jealous, but also aware of the fact that I would have been a huge Debbie Downer if I didn’t take my break, probably leaving everyone for a negative impression.
So tomorrow, I’ll be ready and rested to take on some panels, meet some people and end my stay at SXSW on a high note (I hope).
If I hadn’t taken that nap, I would have left downtown immediately after dinner for the rest of the night and been completely unproductive. Instead, I took a break, met up with Andrew and Shay a bit later to see some new Intel pad/netbook devices and meet even more interesting people. Just had to reset my servers first.