Ok, so if you've been stuck in a small dark cave for the last week or two, you may have missed the fact that SXSW (South by South West) has been taking place in Austin, Texas.
Three conferences presented back-to-back, SXSW covers film, music and (the bit I was lucky enough to attend) the world's largest interactive conference. Having been told for some time now that this is a 'must attend event' I somewhat disbelievingly put my name into the hat to go out as part of an Advantage West Midlands delegation. AWM'saim is to provide a platform for promoting inward investment for the West Midlands and a delegation of 20 or so people from across the West Midlands were sent out as advocates for the region.
In hindsight it's also been a chance to stand back, see what others are up to, assess what we've been doing and what we should be looking to be involved in both now and in 18 months time. It's certainly been an experience.
Austin is a great place and (so I'm told) a really unique part of America. The sheer scale of the conference and what is has to offer really did come close to blowing my mind, but I think one of the biggest surprises was meeting some great people who were also part of the West Midlands delegation - it's strange to think that I needed to travel to the other side of the world to meet people who are from so nearby. I really hope we'll be able to stay in touch.
Having now been there and done it, I can only repeat the sentiments of those who have gone before me. If you're involved with technology, communication, digital or traditional media, communities or any business for that matter, I highly recommend it.
If you can, watch out for the official SXSW podcasts and videos being made available on iTunes soon; and I'll be posting notes and thoughts on some of the more memorable sessions here over the coming days.