Two different ways to attend SXSW

Last year a group of data center guys and I went to SXSW for the first time.  CNET News has a post on their recommendation which I'll highlight and then give you a different way.

How to win at SXSW -- and live to brag about it

CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman has been going to South by Southwest for years. When a friend asked for advice on how to get the most out of SXSW, he had plenty of suggestions.


So where to begin? A lot of people will tell you to RSVP for everything you get invited to. That's sound advice, because there's a million things going on during SXSW -- parties, panels, special events, bar-b-ques, meetups, and so forth -- and you don't even stand a chance at getting into many of them if you don't RSVP.


If you do decide to go to big parties, be prepared to wait in line for an hour, often even if you have a VIP wristband. Once in, you're going to be crammed into a bar, or a club, or a restaurant, it's going to be too loud to talk, and you'll have to wait in line again for a drink. That's fun?


People think SXSW is mostly about the parties, but a lot of folks have forgotten that there's amazing panels, keynotes, and discussions on the schedule. Bre Pettis, the CEO of MakerBot is keynoting, and so is Elon Musk, CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla. Al Gore's talking, and so is Neil Gaiman. How great is that?


People will tell you to take a night off, since SXSW is so intense. My approach is a little different: Dive in full-force every day and night you're there. But let yourself sleep in if you need to. Do not -- and I mean this with all my heart -- make plans for earlier than 10 a.m. You'll just be too tired. Because if you go to bed early at SXSW, you're definitely doing it wrong.

We did things a different way, and had a blast going to great parties, meeting great people, seeing some good bands.  Oh yeh, and had some great data center discussions.

First we rented a house 3 miles out of town.  We didn't register for the conference.  We contacted people and said hey were in town for SXSW want to come over to our house to chat.  People came over, relaxed in the backyard. They told us parties we should go to and they'll get us in. Invited a few other people who had been at the conference, let them give us an update of what was interesting.  Heard about more parties.  Went out for the evening.  Stayed out late.  Slept in, then did the same thing the next day.

Didn't wait in lines.  Which means we missed talking to random people standing in line.  That was kind of fine for us given we had very low expectations of running into data center people randomly. 

How does this work?  You have to have the right people in the house that people want to come over and chat with.  Oh yeh, and two of the guys were Texan natives who now live on the coasts which means they know a lot of people in Texas that helped the networking.

We wanted to go again this year, but we're all too busy now.  People were disappointed we weren't going back this year.  We'll try to go next year.