The first full day of SXSW Interactive offers a dramatic choice: Dive in head first and let the madness swallow you whole or stand back wait for good to stuff to come to you. Is the conference a marathon or a sprint? Experienced block attackers have the endurance and the tactics to do it all, but if you're not careful, that misguided attempt to see everything and everyone will leave you broken and bruised before the clocks change on Sunday morning. It's important to know your limits.

For your intrepid correspondent that decision was made easy when we stepped outside into the biblical delgue that has plagued the city since we got here. Rain has a funny way of making  a schedule of six panels, two movies, and three open bars seem overindulgent and possibly wasteful. ("Oh, look another college basketball game on the TV! Should probably see how this one plays out.") Still, we did manage to brave the wet streets for at least a little while to bring you this Day 2 update on what was moving and shaking on this gloomy Austin Saturday.

SATURDAY NIGHT POWER RANKINGS

1. The damn rain. Seriously, it's been pretty much non-stop. This can't be normal, right?

(Rain image by Amy Thibodeau via Flickr)

2. Marketing departments that pick up the tab. If you plan well, you can make it through this entire conference without ever paying for a meal. They won't all be good meals (sorry, CNN Grill) and you might be subjected to overly-pushy customer surveys. (I sure do know a lot about the merits of Lincoln vs BMW cars that I can't afford.) There's also the guilt associated with choosing pop-up macaroni stands over the many, many fantastic paid options that Austin has to offer. (See below.) But free food and drinks is still free food and drinks. At least make an effort to tip your bartenders.

3. People dressed like robots/animals. We've never understood the desire of people to turn any gathering of large crowds into their own person cosplay tournament, but after just one night we saw two horses, a giant mouse, and a subservient live-streaming robot controlled by Twitter. (Only one Jedi though.) Sure, there's the obvious "attention whoring" aspect, but what exactly are they gaining attention for? An anonymous Flickr account? The giant foam head that covers their own head? Shouldn't they at least have a YouTube show to promote?

4. Food trucks. Austin sure does love them! Selling Asian-fused tacos or taco-fused BBQ is much easier and cheaper when you can do it on the street, instead of a non-movable store front that's hard to fill the other 51 weeks of the year. Yes, they have to compete with 1 and 2 above, but the lure of late night fish kabobs topped with a burrito is too much for most munchie addicts to resist.

5. Pintrest Pinterest. "Oh, does your startup not integrate with Pinterest? That's too bad. You should check out my board. It's gaining a lot of traction right now."

(Top image by Kevin Krejci via Flickr)