This trip to SXSW was much different from my first trip in 2007. For one, I knew people there this time, not only from the last trip and from Seattle but from my Twitter followers. For another, I was a panelist for the first time.

The core conversation I hosted ended up being very polarizing for attendees. Some were very happy about the experience. Some left some quite brutal assessments on Twitter. I learned that if you’re going to talk about faculty struggles with the web to ask if there are faculty in the room first.

I was generally happy with the experience, and happy to have one of the best higher ed social media experts in Brad Ward to help me through it. But the room was dimly lit, the lack of amplification and dearth of chairs made the experience dissatisfying for many attendees, and the fact I had such a generalist topic meant we were trying to whip through multiple concepts — social media, politics, accessibility — in 60 minutes. Any of the topics we discussed could have taken up an hour unto themselves.

And doing the talk threw me for a bit of a loop. I didn’t hit a lot of other sessions while I was there, and hit even fewer after the talk.

I think, unless a project I’m working on earns a return speaking engagement, I’m not going to propose anything for SXSW 2010. Don’t get me wrong — I loved hosting the core conversation and thoroughly enjoyed it, even with the bumps and mistakes. But I think what I missed this time around was the serendipity of meeting people and hearing great ideas. I did do that, but I felt bound up by the demands of my talk. I think I also want to feel more secure about being up in front of the crowd. I really felt my self-esteem issues the whole week, but the immediate aftermath of the talk was very bad.

And I did meet a lot of great people this time around. Too many to list, in fact. But it was good to hang with Elaine and Andrea and Ralph again, and being able to catch up with Vijay (through pure serendipity) was great as well.

I’m planning on being back in 2010. I really hope I can be.