So, I’m back in the country, my mind’s back in the right time zone, my girlfriend is 25 miles away instead of 5,000. My photos are up, and my new iPod is charged, synchronised and suitably road-tested. My desire to buy shiny new bits of tech has at least subsided to the point where it actually listens to my bank account (although the temptation to buy a MacBook is surprisingly strong).
In the year since the last SXSW I’ve started two jobs, left one, moved house twice and done a fair bit of freelance work in-between, so quite a lot has changed. What hasn’t changed is the overwhelming sense of community I’ve experienced from nine short days in Austin. I’ve come away with the sense that I’m a part of a large group of not only like-minded professionals, but like-minded friends. Somehow I doubt that there are conferences in many other professions which can induce that kind of feeling.
That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything during my time in Texas. Granted, some of the panels were just reiterating what most of the attendees already knew, but I gained some genuinely valuable insights at many of the panels – I also gained a genuinely valuable book in one of them, which is nice too. While much of the daytime programme was interesting, inspirational, informative or some combination of the three, I also learned a surprising amount from talking geek during the evenings: it’s a strange feeling, being able to talk about aspects of the .NET framework over Cuban food and mojitos without feeling like an idiot.
Ultimately, the point I’m trying to get across is that I feel truly privileged to be a part of this profession and to be able to swap ideas and thoughts with a group of people who are all working towards one goal: to make better websites.