Answer: My first day at my first ever South by Southwest (‘SXSW’ or ‘South by’, as the super cool veterans call it) conference in Austin, TX.
“Overwhelming” is the best word to describe this day. It started with the schedule of panels, meetups, talks, book readings, mentor sessions, parties and keynote speakers. I got so stressed trying to figure out which of 10 events in 10 different venues around the city I should attend at any given hour!
I did RSVP to go to a session about the Internet of Things, getting all excited about learning new trends. Instead, I ended up in a panel of 4 boring middle aged guys, trying to impress each other and the audience by talking about Moore’s law and microchips. When asked by show of hands to answer who is a hardware geek or a software geek, I was one of the few people in the room not to raise my hand. Clear clue to being in the wrong place, eh? After this I just simply gave up and switched the logic to picking stuff that were closest to my physical location at any given time.
My next session was a keynote by Paola Antonelli, the architecture and design curator from the MOMA, titled Curious Bridges: How designers grow the future. Here, the attendants looked much cooler, a mix of hipsters and artsy Japanese people so I was starting to feel cooler myself. But then, when Ms. Antonelli started talking about quantum design, Schrodinger’s Cat, superposition, Entanglement, I started missing my physicist boyfriend and having flashbacks to when he would talk about work and my mind would start going into the blue screen mode. I quickly started snapping photos of her slides, trying to impress him with the level of my intellect, which allowed me to watch such sophisticated lecture. Once I got tired of snapping pictures, I realized that 20 mins have passed and I still had no clue what this lady was talking about.
Just before dropping out of this event, I did learn about the most impressive art piece (UN)known to mankind: the menstruation machine (created by artist Sputniko to show men how does having a period feel like).
You can watch the video about it here
Finally, I stumbled upon a women entrepreneurs event, which lured us in with custom-made cupcakes and free drinks. The ladies (except for some panelists), were pretty cool, and we had a great discussion about why networking, role models, and better pipelines of candidates are all important in getting more women into tech and into leadership roles overall. I really wanted to take over the discussion but it wasn’t allowed 😦
I also got a bunch of business cards because I decided that in the next few days I shall become the networker I have never been. To be continued…