SXSW & 4A’s Transformation: Why I let my phone die

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Austin, with SXSW Interactive and the 4A’s Transformation conference taking place back to back. While attending these events and learning about the latest-and-greatest in technology, innovation and creativity, I must admit I did the unthinkable — I let my phone die.

I’ll start by saying that “let” is a loose term. My phone is on its last leg, and perhaps I’m not quite careful enough about charging it. Point being there were dozens of areas around the conferences to plug in and charge back up if I wanted. But I didn’t.

At first, my decision not to recharge seemed questionable.

Oh no, how will I get this free t-shirt if my phone is dead and I can’t tweet about it (the requirement for getting the t-shirt)?

Turns out, the girl running the contest was quite understanding. Since I couldn’t tweet about it we chatted instead, and I ended up “pinky promising” her I would tweet later. Definitely haven’t pinky promised since 2001 (win).

How will I look up the panel information ahead of time?

With no phone, I couldn’t re-read up on the speakers and panels. Instead, I was excited all over again as each speaker and topic was introduced. While other people texted, browsed, or posted throughout the talks, I gave my full attention since I had no distractions. I even took some notes…using a pen and paper.

What time is it?!

Asking strangers for the time may not be an ideal conversation starter, but it led me to meet some interesting people. I wound up meeting a guy who managed to sneak into all the SXSW badge-only events without a badge, and a woman who lived on the same city as my sister.

Ok, so my phone died twice in one week, big deal.

But it was kind of a big deal. At these conferences about interacting and connecting, there is wonderful technology everywhere and a lot of people using it to connect. But for me, disconnecting was an unexpectedly positive experience. In my last panel of the day at SX the speaker stated: “Our cell phones know we are all in this room.”

Everyone’s did except for mine. Because it was dead. Which turns out was, actually, kind of cool.

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