I’m not the typical SXSWi (South-by-Southwest Interactive for those not in the know) attendee. But these days, who is? The trade show turned spring break event that once was a bastion for tech-geeks has gone mainstream. The crowd, now estimated at 15,000+ paid attendees, has sprouted beyond the core group of developers to include a much more diverse audience of people whose livelihoods depend on technology.
As a company at the intersection of technology and green, RecycleMatch has our own unique perspective on the event. Here’s a run-down of the things we loved and some things that surprised us.
Most of all I loved Valery Casey’s keynote address, challenging the innovators of technology to use their amazing powers to focus on meaningful change. The dramatic message of statistics on climate-related issues and beautifully ugly imagery of baby albatross dying from eating plastic were compelling. My only disappointment was that it wasn’t as well attended as deserved.
More focus on green-tech businesses and how technology is being leveraged to solve environmental problems would have been an improvement. Inspiring the tech audience is going to require much more relevant content instead of content imported from the green and sustainability circuit.
The green-centric break-out sessions were a great opportunity to at least identify the green attendees among us. I’m sure it is a challenge to craft the right message for an audience with a broad range of green-expertise. Unfortunately, preaching of how easy it is to give up your plastic water bottles to a room of canteen-carrying believers was a missed opportunity.
And of course, like any trade-shows with green attendees, there was twitter-buzz about the excesses of the swag-bag. But it’s easy to love Austin. Adding to Austin’s innate walkability, SXSW provided shuttles and pedi-cabs were everywhere. The retro looking solar-powered fueling stations used to power electric bicycles are an exciting new addition to the Austin city-scape that we hope to see expanded by next year. http://www.soldesignlab.com/
Parties hosted by GOOD Magazine and TriplePundit provided great opportunities to engage on a deeper-than-tweet level with other green oriented attendees. I hope next year these groups will coordinate with each other so that the events aren’t at the same time, but regardless both events were fun and well attended from Austin’s significant green scene and from conference attendees.
It should have come as no surprise that the green attitudes of the tech crowd were much like most consumers. They liked green messages including the RecycleMatch story - http://sxsw.com/interactive/accelerator . But, it wasn’t their core business focus and took back seat to the heavily tech-centric panels that drew them to the event.
Unfortunately I think the call to challenge is back on Valerie Casey and the green-movement to figure out how to make sustainability more relevant to tech-geeks. As a company at the intersection of green and technology, RecycleMatch would love to be a part of next year’s brainstorming sessions on this subject. But, in the meantime, we’re just thrilled we were at SXSW. It was an amazing and inspiring event. And, we did recycle as much of the content from our swag bags as possible!