Today SXSW starts – it’s the tech world’s Lollapalooza. The tech world’s Woodstock. The tech world’s US Festival.
And to be honest, I don’t really care. I hate SXSW.
If you are going, I hope you have fun – I am not trying to hate on you. It’s the idea of the get-together itself that I object to, and I have to say why. (After all, I need a post, and this is the biggest tech news this moment.)
I know I’m supposed to want to go, because everyone else does. The fact of the matter is nothing important ever really comes out of SXSW. The announcements that happen there would happen anyway. Without SXSW, Facebook or Google or anyone could announce something new just fine.
In fact, conferences are basically useless since most of the attendees will fill their own blogs with recaps of what they heard. In some cases, people UStream the panel itself with their phones, just so they can say they did. If anything is said of real import, it will be in an article on CNET.com. If anything is said that’s particularly inflammatory or interesting, it will be uploaded to YouTube.
And if anyone really valued the experience of “being there” for these things over reading them on a blog or watching them on YouTube, they wouldn’t be geeks worthy of a SXSW. How’s that for irony!
The real reason for SXSW is for the tech geek elite to get together and schmooze. It’s a chance for marketers to assault the tech geek crowd, and for tech geeks to party – both concepts being mildly revolting.
Sometimes these two things come together, like when a “celebrity” geek publishes a book, (those things on paper that are outdated by the time they reach store shelves, so they never sell – surely you’ve heard of them, right?) they’ll have a “party” celebrating their accomplishment, in the hopes people will talk about the author, and by extension the book – even if only to explain why there was a party.
The value of schmoozing has always been lost on me, frankly. In my day-to-day life, I’d pay real money just to not have to talk to anyone. I don’t see the value, though, of paying to go to Texas and say I got to hang out with… hey, who is this year’s tech celebrity, anyway? Ah, who cares.