Ditching the Laptop and Going Mobile for SXSW

So I promised I would unplug for tonight to make up for the constant plugging in I did for 6 days at South by Southwest (SXSW). I lied. I also promised I would be blogging during my time at SXSW. That also turned out to be a lie, but this quick post, my most recent lie to myself, is an attempt to make up for my previous to lie to myself, and of course, all of you.

I lugged my laptop all the way to Austin in hopes of churning out quick blog posts throughout the week. I soon realized my ten pound machine was too heavy to haul and its utter lack of battery life was just too painful to deal with, so I turned to my BlackBerry. This was was easy fodder for all my more Apple-minded friends, but I was rather impressed with its performance. Here are some of the highlights and low-lights of my SXSW BlackBerry experience.

The Highs:

1. FourSquare has a new Beta version for BlackBerries which I promptly downloaded my first night in Austin. I have been a little skeptical of geo-location platforms in the past, but I’m a total believer now. I was able to quickly add my friends through my Twitter account and had an instant network to connect with, most of whom were at SXSW. It helped my friends track me down as I made my way around town and helped me figure out which places and panels had the most to offer. The special SXSW badges were fun to collect too. There have been several articles in the last few days debating whether FourSquare, the better named opponent, or Gowalla, the hometown hero, were winning the hearts of SXSW-ers and most of them agree the jury is still out. From what I saw it seemed like FourSquare was the crowd favorite, but Gowalla doesn’t have a BlackBerry version so my perception may be skewed.

2. Typing that makes sense with a keyboard you can feel. This is my strongest argument for BlackBerry pride and it served me well during SXSW. I easily pumped out Tweets and emails while keeping my eyes glued to the speakers. My i-Phone-d counterparts were forced to keep their eyes glued to their phones if they hoped to end up with a first version of whatever they were typing that didn’t look like gibberish.

3. The mobile version of the SXSW site let me check my pre-made schedule on the go. Since the conference was sprawled out over the Convention Center and the Hilton (along with a couple of other locations) this was extremely useful. Google Maps gave me excellent walking directions to tasty lunch spots in between sessions.

The Lows:

1. Most of the panels that mentioned up and coming social media platforms only had mobile versions for the i-Phone. It made it difficult to follow the conversation since I couldn’t experience the app in real time. In fact, some panels required you to use i-Phone specific apps, like Hot Potato, to ask questions after the presentation. The idea was to move people off the more traditional SXSW-er platforms, like Twitter, and onto some new spaces,  but it definitely excluded parts of the crowd.

2. No blogging for me. The BlackBerry, and mobile experiences in general, are still very glitchy. I was worried about trying to blog from my phone and losing internet connection or having a frozen screen moment. Nothing worse than jamming out a post, just to have it snatched away by the tech abyss. So my mobile experience led to quick, spontaneous interaction, rather than lengthier blog posts.

3. Hmm. Don’t have one.

Tried to make it a balanced argument, but in general my mobile experience was awesome. I accomplished everything I needed to in a way that made sense for the fast paced environment of the conference. More posts to come tomorrow about the sessions I attended and some first year advice for anyone planning ahead for 2011.

2 thoughts on “Ditching the Laptop and Going Mobile for SXSW

  1. >I was worried about trying to blog from my phone and losing internet connection or having a frozen screen >moment.

    Ya, amazingly I thought the mobile services held up pretty well — last year was a total wipeout in terms of 3G, EDGE, and even hotel Wifi.

    And did you try out the WordPress for BlackBerry app ? :) http://blackberry.wordpress.org . It will let you save locally in case the connection is flakey, and we just added geotagging and comment notification to today’s 1.1 release.

    cheers.

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