Last weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in the 2008 South by Southwest Interactive festival. I flew down Friday evening and stayed at a hotel about three miles south of downtown, just off I-35. And even though I wasn't in the thick of things, things were thick enough.
This year's festival was probably 50-100% (my gut sense) larger than last year's, and I heard that attendance capped out at almost 8,000 people. That's too big. Last year's felt a little too big, but this year was big enough that I didn't -- and couldn't -- run into everyone I wanted to catch up with randomly in the halls like I've been able to in previous years. So the reunion aspect of SXSW might be effectively over.
That said, I did see some long-time friends (Harper! Kyle! Thomas! Srini! Larry!), attended a couple of great parties (including one hosted by Threadless, Etsy, and Moo -- and DJ'd by Flosstradamus), made some new friends, ate some good food, went to one of my favorite record stores, and moderated one awesome panel.
The subject was Online Advertising for Newbies, and we had a stellar lineup. Darren Rowse, Wendy Piersall, Jim Benton, and Rett Clevenger all stepped up to share what they've learned in terms of the earliest stages and steps of adding ads -- and otherwise monetizing -- blogs and small- to medium-sized Web sites. It was a standing-room only audience, with more than 100 people in the room. And if you're interested, Tris Hussey of MapleLeaf 2.0 liveblogged the session. SXSW should offer a podcast of the proceedings soon.
It was a great trip, and I hope SXSW makes it past the growing pains well!