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FBNY @ SXSW: Combining The Best And Worst Of CES

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FishbowlNY correspondent Brian Reich will be filing this week from South By Southwest, the annual film and music media festival melt in Austin, Texas

Day One at the South-by-Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSWi)— the biggest, most exciting gathering of bloggers, gamers, web celebrities, programmers and, of course, PR flacks, one could ever imagine. Only a smattering of the 4700+ attendees have arrived so far, but its pretty clear that this year’s event — the 14th time that SXSW has had an interactive festival in addition to the more dominant film and music festivals — will combine all the best (and worst) of the Consumer Electronics Show, TED (the invite only ‘big think’ conference for the nation’s best innovators) and BlogHer (a massive collection of influential women bloggers).

A few first impressions:

  • Being a member of the media at SXSWi is really nothing special. Everyone here is “covering” the event for their blog or podcast. We do get access to a work room with some light refreshments and a quiet place to conduct interviews. And of course, we get pitched. In the last week alone I received at least a dozen emails from different flacks hoping I will attend a panel, interview a CEO, or drop by a party being hosted by some technology company. The official PR firm for SXSW is Porter Novelli and their people seem to be everywhere here. I have also heard from Edelman, Blanc & Otus Public Relations, Four Corners Communications and FortyThree, Inc.
  • Like any good conference, we all get tote bags filled with promotional materials related to the sponsors of the conference. Along with all the sales flyers and stickers — yes, stickers! — the tote bag at SXSWi is filled with magazines and newspapers (ironic at an interactive conference, don’t you think?). I have been lugging around copies of the ever-popular Linux Journal, How (The International Design Annual), Wizard (the magazine of comics, entertainment and pop culture), Technology Review, Create Magazine, and Code (Component Developer Magazine). There are copies of the Austin Chronicle everywhere as well — the Chronicle is the tabloid paper founded in 1981 by publisher Nick Barbaro and editor Louis Black who also helped to co-found SXSW. I didn’t have room in my tote bag by the end of my first day, but there is a gauntlet near the area where you pick up your credentials that offers copies of nearly every free, independent weekly newspaper in the country — things like the East Bay Express, Seattle Weekly, Philadelphia Weekly and Boston Raw.
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