Finally home!

After an exciting, stimulating, absolutely exhausting week in Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Interactive conference, I excited to write that I have lots of interesting trends in technology, social media, and education to share with you all.  It's an impossible experience to capture, far more physically strenuous than I would have expected, with endless activity from 9 AM until well past midnight.  I found it very tough to pace myself, often responding to the impossible decision between two equally awesome things by simply squeezing more and more energy out of myself.  The town of Austin is an odd mix between what I think of as east and west coast cities, with some of the wide, low residential areas of the Pacific ad the taller, tighter grids of New England cities.  The food is pungent, hearty, and relatively cheap; the music is similarly loud, pervasive, and often free.  Austin seems a tiny bit like how I imagine New Orleans – although I've never been there.  

The two biggest trends I want to relate are group messaging and social gaming.  Neither of these are brand new, in the sense that the ideas have been circulating for at least a year, if not more, but they seemed to achieve a kind of critical mass at this year's SXSW, with a number of panels, "core conversations," popular startups and interactive displays leveraging these two technological trends.

Those will be parts 1 & 2 of my SXSW roundup; in part 3 I'll share some of my favorite mobile and desktop apps popularized at SXSW; and in parts 4-6 I'll post (pending approval!) some of my collection of beautiful artwork, posters, and handouts from the conference.

Did you go to SXSW this year, or in the past?  (It's a very student-friendly town, with the enormous University of Texas right next door.) What were your favorite trends and startups?