By Jason Cranford Teague. Jason is a professional designer, writer and speaker. Jason helps people design the web in creative ways to build a better future. He’s helped the W3C CSS Workgroup and SXSW.
‘Tis the season for SXSW . If you are going to SXSW, there are a few things you ought to know. This will be my fifth time at SXSW, and I’ve collected a few tidbits over the years that I’d like to share with you, to help you get the most out of the event. SXSW can feel like trying to drink a margarita out of a fire hose. If you go in with a regimented attitude, you will likely not survive the first two days (and those are the easy ones!). Relax, breathe, and read my tips.
1. Get the apps — Although they have their quirks, the mobile SXSW apps can prove indispensable for keeping track of your schedule and helping to track old friends and make new ones.
2. Check off everything you want to see — Whether you are using one of the apps on a screen or those massively convenient bundles of pressed wood pulp, check off every session that piques your fancy. Some people try to carefully schedule a single session for every time slot during the day, agonizing over their choices. Don’t do that. Don’t even look at the times. Just look for titles that interest you and put them on your list. Then you can choose the best sessions that interest you as the conference unfolds. You may choose one because of the topic or because it happens to be close to the last session you were in and you are tired, but it’s best to have options.
3. Get there early — One fact of life about SXSW is that you will spend a lot of time waiting in line. Whether it’s for registration, a keynote speech or that session you just can’t miss—the earlier you arrive, the less time you spend waiting in line. Plus, for really popular events, getting there late (or even on-time) may mean that the venue is full and you are left out in the cold. That’s not a problem, of course, if you followed my advice in #2, because you have back-up options. Just head to the next session on your list.