It’s 5:30 am in Austin Texas, and I’m waiting for the sun to come up so I can go for a run through unfamiliar streets around the neighbourhood where we’ve rented a house during for our stay at SxSW. Our company CEO foolishly told me he’d like to go running in the morning as well, so I should definitely wait until there’s enough light to run by, else risk loosing him down one of those massive American storm drains, the kind Pennywise the clown lives in.
South by South West Interactive day one is behind us, and although this is my second year of the festival I feel much the same as I did in 2015. Overwhelmed.
In the end I managed to make it to three talks and a function at Great Britain House, hosted by the UKTI. As with last year, plans rapidly evolved to accommodate last minute decisions based on where talks where and what we’d heard was cool.
None of us managed to get tickets to see the Obama talk, but we watched it with a room full of others streamed onto a big screen. He was articulate, funny and filled with considered and reasonable responses to questions about privacy (in relation to the Apple encryption row) and big government. Watching him talk made me realise that my wish that one day America would have a president like Jeb Bartlet from The West Wing (played my Martin Sheen) had actually come true. It also makes me nervous for the future of this country. I guess they’ll really understand what they’ve lost once the next president is sworn in.
Today I’ve got a list as long as my arm of talks I’d like to see, but I’ll be happy to see two or three of them. At 11am I have to choose between a panel discussion about smart cities with the operations manager of Uber or a talk on the Internet of Things. Decisions decisions.
The rain has started coming down again and the grey clouds are at least now visible in the morning light. Almost time to go and wake up my CEO and see how steely his resolve is. And then day two of SxSW!