For the tenth time in the past week, I had a conversation tonight about why I’m not going to South by Southwest this year. South by Southwest, of course, being one of the biggest conferences around, and the biggest if you work or live in the technology world. Although I’m not entirely without regret on missing the event (Austin is such a great city, after all), I am decided.
In no particular order, here are the five main reasons I’m not headed out to Austin this year for the big party:
1. It really is a big party. One of the hardest things for me about South by Southwest to swallow is that, well, it is one big party. And, although I like parties, I don’t love them. As an introvert, I’m a bit of a wallflower at social gatherings with folks I don’t know, and the constant necessity to peel myself from said wall has proved difficult year in and year out at events like South by Southwest. Not going then, for me, is a bit of a relief, as it means a few less days in 2013 where I’ll be out of my element.
2. The party is a tiring one. Cue the above comment about South by Southwest being a big party, and add in the fact that most of the party requires personal coordination. South by Southwest is a long week of meetings – in lunches, dinners, cocktail hours, and straight up party settings. All of these events require immense coordination, planning, and all – above all – time. The fact that I got started a bit late this year in evaluating my schedule for the event meant that it consequently fell by the wayside. Could I have found 15 productive meetings to book myself into? Yes. Did I make the time to do that? No.
3. I’m not speaking. I spoke on panels at South by Southwest the past two years, making it part and parcel of the speaking gig that I, well, attend (duh). This year, with nary a speaking assignment to attach myself to, the need to be there is, well, less. In efforts to reduce my travel some, and stick to my resolution to attend conferences only when my presence is necessitated (by speaking or otherwise), South by Southwest falls in the slush pile this year for me.
4. It’s pricey. If you don’t have a business reason to be there (a deal you hope to close or a professional partnership you’re pursuing, say) it’s a pricey event. The travel costs are one thing, but the passes are another. I was lucky to have passes paid for when speaking, but had I paid last year it was near $1,000 (if memory serves).
5. It simply wasn’t necessary. My word of the year is rest, and abiding by this word, creating the opportunity of making a productive conference out of South by Southwest wasn’t top of mind. Although I could have made it top of mind – whenever it came to my mind! – I decided against doing so, in favor of my word: rest.
And so, although it can be a great event, it’s not for me in this 2013 season.
What about you? Have you gone, or do you plan to this year? Why or why not?