South by Southwest (SXSW) 2017 was hardly enough to capture in one week. As a first-time attendee, new experiences were ready to be had as I hiked my way through the week in downtown Austin, Texas.
The first exhibit I walked to after picking up my badge was while exploring the overflow hotels the convention also took place in, the JW Marriott and the Hilton Hotel. There was a huge glow interactive exhibit that made new sounds that you would imagine come out of a science fiction movie as it beeped and changed as people took pictures of it.
Afterwards, Dell music lounge put on an exhibit, and there was a journalism “track” a series of panels around the industry. As well as music development, international law series in copyright in interactive, comedy, film and music industries in addition to multiple film premieres of Mr Roosevelt, 68 Kill, Bill Nye: Science Guy, and Atomic Blonde to name a few. Later on in the week, the gaming convention and trade show brought new content to the festival that was open to any badge holder.
The gaming convention brought out new gaming developments from big names like Nintendo to small newly unveiled games like Saltlands. While the trade show had new apps being marketed and showed to attendees and had exhibits from several countries such as the UK, Japan, Italy, Spain and Brazil showcasing trade and talent their country had to offer. NASA also had an exhibit showing new and ongoing missions to festival attendants as well.
In music, there was the K-Pop night out from groups from South Korea, and big names like Ryan Adams performing that gathered in even new crowds that weren't attending SXSW before. Bands from Great Britain had their own music embassy with BBC Radio One broadcasting in. Despite the thick traffic, the persistence to see what this festival was still about from onlookers who were just out for St. Patrick's day was obvious.
But throughout all of this after a while I picked up on a vibe, a common theme: pursue difficult and uncomfortable topics. From the journalism track to the NASA panels, questioning ethics and politics, that also as writers in the broadest sense can still come up with ways to bring topics out in the open and have open, honest discussions with each other in-person with no tone-deafness that texts and tweets can lead to.
We head into April now with the same reality that we come back to after a week of networking, meeting new people, and living in the world that becomes us in our careers. That these things are not easily obtainable but that doesn’t mean we should stop reaching for them. But also, with the right amount of enthusiasm and creativity, anything can succeed. This festival was huge and the time during the day was hardly enough to get to everything that you want to do and before you know it, its over and you have to go back to work or school if you weren't doing that already on the side.
SXSW has the motto, “helping creative people achieve their goals,” and it has a lot to offer as a festival that I learned at a European Union lounge from speaking with someone when curious about current EU events is very international. There are good and interesting things that can provoke an inner dialogue that you can find yourself chewing on hours later if the material is there. “What was that thing that person was talking about? Is that crazy or is that actually possible?”
If you have done your best, do what NASA scientists have said about what they do when they fail. Get back up and do good science and keep doing good science. But if you are not in science, keep doing good work. And when you fail, get back up and keep doing the good work.
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