Why the South by Southwest Interactive Festival Rocks

Interactive Playpen is returning this year with lots and lots and lots of plastic toys. and I conspired with the fest’s director Hugh Forrest to set this up at last year. It was a lot of fun and the music festival ended up keeping the toys around for their part of SXSW, too. A zillion little LEGO blocks will be dumped on the floor in the northwest corner of the first floor of the Austin Convention Center March 9-18.

Things like the Interactive Playpen are why I keep going to the festival. If you have an interesting idea, they’ll listen and try to work with you. I was on the advisory board for a few years, moderated a panel and participated on other people’s panels over the years. This year will be my 7th and I am downright giddy. For a while it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to go but things worked out and I’ll be there the 10th-13th.

Looking around the web for a page to point to about Hugh, I found this entry on Marc Canter’s blog and I couldn’t help but wonder if he (and a few other SXSW complainers) were talking about an entirely different event. Hugh and his cohorts have orchestrated something that is absolutely incomparable since the first SXSW Interactive Festival joined the SXSW family in 1994. It was a little bit unconference before that word started to become popular recently. Everyone who attends the festival is a participant: the panelists participate — they are not just there to swoop in and bestow some presumed wisdom upon us. They are one of us, too.