It was an astounding experience to be invited to attend President Barrack Obama’s SXSL event at the White House.
Hopefully I can put down some salient thoughts about it at some point after it’s all percolated enough. Inspired by SXSW, the President decided to host a festival at The White House that was part maker faire, part activist showcase, part live concert, part policy discussion.
The White House seems kind of humble when viewed from Pennsylvania Avenue, so I was caught by surprise at how stately and majestic it appears from the South Lawn. Even the much maligned Eisenhower Executive Office Building looks pretty good from that perspective.
I was also surprised by the incredible intelligence and dedication of White House staffers and pretty much everyone I met working in the Obama administration. I guess the political news cycle can be so numbing that it’s easy to lose sight of how many wickedly smart people are busting their asses every day to make the government work better. I was especially impressed by the work done at the US Digital Service, headed up by the deeply inspirational Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer for, well, the nation.
Not as surprising was that the festival itself was pretty great. Meeting community leaders from all around the country and interacting with stunning innovations was downright dreamy. Also the bands, panel discussions, and Congressman John Lewis admonishing everyone to “make more trouble!” was all pretty awesome.