SXSW: Austin Kleon Asks 'Is SXSW Over?' During Keynote Address

12:35 PM PST 03/07/2014 by Natalie Jarvey
Courtesy of A Total Disruption
Austin Kleon

The Austin resident and best-selling author opened SXSW Interactive on March 7.

Is SXSW over?

Best-selling author Austin Kleon addressed the question during his opening day keynote speech.

"Is it over? Has it gotten too big?" he asked at the start of his presentation. "Truth be told, some of my best friends that I've made at SXSW didn't even bother to show up this year."

Kleon -- an Austin resident who has published three books: Steal Like an Artist, Show Your Work! and Newspaper Blackout -- makes poetry by blacking out words from newspaper pages. He said he has always dreamed of appearing in one of the articles that he blacks out. Then two weeks ago that dream came true.

"The New York Times article was essentially asking whether the conference during which I get to give the keynote address, had it jumped the shark?"

Through a story about vampires and human spam, Kleon came to the conclusion that for SXSW to give value to its attendees, those attendees must create a scenius, or a collective intelligence of a cultural institution. He argued that people should share their creative work with each other instead of networking and schmoozing at parties.

He adds, "When you share the things you love, you'll wind up meeting the people who love those things, too."

Kleon went on to discuss his past SXSW experiences and offer advice on how to connect with other people while at the event.

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