Talking at SXSW in 2013 is one of the highlights of my professional career.
I had first heard about the interactive festival on the Guardian Tech Weekly podcast a couple of years earlier, convinced my club to send me in 2012 and then applied to talk myself a few months later. I would later find out I was “a gamble”.
I certainly felt like one when I walked into the seemingly cavernous room I had been allocated in the Conference Hall. This is hardly ancient history but SXSport was still a couple of years away and, back then, fewer people were talking about sport… let alone soccer… in front of a largely American audience.
Nick Cave (minus the Bad Seeds) would be talking on the same stage 24 hours later. He was solo speaker too but he had the advantage of years of performing in front of all type of crowds. Plus he was Nick Cave. He’d fill it and get a standing ovation for walking in. I was hoping to get a ripple after 45 minutes of biting insight.
However, I blathered coherently enough about Arsenal’s content strategy in front of a decent-sized crowd and it seemed to be well-received. You can hear it here if you like.
On Saturday, March 11, I will square the circle with a second talk at SXSW, full details here. A lot has happened in the intervening four conferences. In digital, it is obvious. If dogs get seven years for every human one then the interactive area must enjoy a similar rate of development. And in the petri dish of sport, the growth rate seems to accelerate.
Personally, the situation is different too. Since 2013, I have left Arsenal (my boyhood team) and moved to the US to work in sports (a boyhood ambition). It was the type of bravery all those inspirational Instagram posts urge you to make. And it was a blast. However, now I am back in the UK and figuring out where for the next phase of my career. Fortunately, I have the luxury of a little time.
So if 2013 felt like a breakthrough, professionally and, for reasons I may reveal for the first time in Austin, personally; the second talk will bring closure to the US leg of my career.
I believe I am the only person to have run a content team for a Premier League club and an MLS club. It is a minor morsel of uniqueness but it does offer a singular view on two Leagues that offer the starkest of contrasts in terms of history, tone, media, organisation, approach and, yes, even calendar.
But then overall, US sport is a different beast to that of the UK/Europe and I have sampled both. Since returning home, I have found this dual digital nationality is a most sought-after commodity.
If you are in Austin for SXSW then please pop by the Four Seasons on March 11 at 3.30pm. I’ll be in town for a few days afterwards so, for a change, let’s use social media to be social. Find me on Twitter @MrRichardClarke if you want to chat further.
I also hope to publish the slides and audio from the talk on this website after the event.
Oh and wish me luck too.
Though, this time, Nick Cave's whereabouts are unknown.