I went. I saw. I experienced the sights, sounds, and the swag of South by Southwest Interactive 2011.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, SXSW is an event I’ve wanted to attend for quite awhile. Even without a conference badge, it totally lived up to and exceeded all of my expectations. While I would have loved to listen to some of the best in the biz speak during the conference, I still feel like I learned a lot. You can learn so much and get inspired just from interacting with and speaking to fellow designers, developers, and entrepreneurs at some of the non-conference events.

There’s something really great about talking to and interacting with peers in your profession. In a time when it feels like we’re drifting further and further apart, while we text, Tweet, message, and “poke” each other, nothing quite compares to a completely non-digital conversation over a beer. For me that was one of the best parts of SXSW. I left Austin on Monday feeling somewhat exhausted, but completely inspired and ready to take on the world.

What SXSW blog post would be complete without at least a small mention of the parties. Because without those, it’d be tough to meet some of these great people face to face. Blocks and blocks of parties thrown by some of the coolest companies in the world. Free drinks, free food, free swag for what seems like miles.

After having such a great time this year, I’m already looking forward to visiting Austin again in 2012.

A few SXSW-related shoutouts go to: My girlfriend Lori, my good friends from Boston, Chris and Andrew, Fast Society, Ignite, Groupon, Gowalla, Foursquare, Media Temple, Squarespace, rdio, Loopt, Yobongo, CNET, Mashable, Revsion 3, Zappos, and Crowdtap.

Check out a few of my photos, over on Flickr.