The Gated "Community" of SXSWSXSW this year has been renamed and rehashtaged by me -- thanks to the ghastly weather -- as Soaking Wet South by Southwest -- #SWSXSW. But in fact there is actually something worse this year at SXSW than the weather. It's the exclusionary nature of the hidden conference.
There are many events, parties, meetings, even conventional talks and lectures going on for VIP's only. If you paid to get into SXSW and you're not famous or connected enough to get into the hidden conference, you are attending a completely different conference.
The social media folks who give great advice and charge high prices to teach you to connect with "the community" don't really want to do that themselves. Ironic isn't it? They sell social media wares by day, but party away far from "the community" at night. Social media stars now live in a gated community where the little people can't touch them.
This makes for a pretty lousy conference, and certainly one that is not true to the spirit of the original event.
To be fair, there are a few places where this attitude has been resisted -- in particular the great Samsung Blogger Lounge hosted by TechSet (Brian Solis and Stephanie Agresta) where they have made sure than new social media enthusiasts and stars can hang out together. It matters. In fact, I thought that was the whole idea ... community.