tells why he won't be going to SXSW this year. He's not alone. Or rather, he will be alone because he won't be there. I won't be there either; canceled my talk a few weeks ago because I want to try something new.
Michael's not wrong about SXSW. But SXSW isn't wrong, either. It has had a difficult choice: grow bigger and bigger, or cap attendance and become exclusive (and probably even more expensive; see TED). The problem is, when it grew so big, it spread out and lost the magic of the hallway: You could sit on the shore of a trout stream and pluck out friends as they passed. No more. It became a big show and a big business.
I recently spoke with the producer of another conference I think is great. His, too, is growing and growing, a sign of success. But his reflex was to wonder whether he should just shut it and then do something else. (His partners would not agree; that's why I'm not quoting him by name.) That would be a helluva wacky way to run a business: shut it just when it takes off. But success can be fatal.
I keep thinking about ways to disrupt the conference business, to bring it back to conversations and away from sponsor content and overcrowding. I want to get back to basics: The reason people go to conferences is people: seeing their tribes and meeting new people with similar interests. The secret, I think, is to give power to the people formerly known as the audience (TM +Jay Rosen
) and give them a platform to gather when they want to. More later....
cc from Twitter conversation: +Rex Hammock +Dan Gillmor +Gina Trapani +Andy Baio