Whilst in Texas I will attend the SXSW Interactive conference. This takes place March 11-15 in Austin. SXSW Interactive is billed as featuring five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology. It is an event that brings together innovators, entrepreneurs, developers and educators alongside industry leaders and venture capitalists from all over the world. This a space where everyone has the opportunity to learn and contribute.

Just some of the featured speakers at the convention include:

The event takes place at the Austin Convention Centre which covers 881,400 square feet, has five exhibitions halls, 54 meeting rooms and two ballrooms. Yet this huge venue is still not enough space to house this huge event. Panels and sessions are also being held in another half a dozen hotels, scattered over downtown Austin.  

Map of SXSW venuesImage: Mapquest

SXSW is possibly most known for its music and media conferences and this year celebrates its 25th anniversary. The convention has three main categories which are Interactive, Film and Music. Interactive was originally known as SXSW Multimedia and despite its huge growth maintains its commitment to involve the community who play a large part in picking the panels that present at the annual event. There is also a strong presence of non profits. One of the inspirational founders Dewey Winburne invested time in teaching web and media skills to under privileged children in Austin and was an advocate of the values emerging technology could bring to both his local community and globally. To honour his dedicated community work, there is the Dewey Winburne Community Services Award.    

In addition to the great choice of keynotes offered during Interactive, there are a wide selection of conference panel discussions which provide a rich forum for learning. The panels are grouped into themes which include the following :

  • Design and Development
    Where the savviest of digital creatives come together to share tools, tips and technologies for unbridles collaborative learning, networking and more. 
  • Greater Good
    Social responsibility is the new black. Notions of using emerging technologies to make large scale improvements aren’t just dreams of the idealists anymore. Sessions will reflet upon ethics, sustainability, non-profits, digital divide solutions and more.
  • Screenburn
    This is the video element that merges the new media, music, film and video industries; connecting the developers, publishers, consumers and Internet trendsetters.
  • Future 15
    15 minute solo presentations.
  • Marketing and Branding
    Fueled by the insights of industry experts, an exploration of the importance of researching, defining and devloping the best identity for your brand (both personal and corporate).
  • Convergence
    The digital revolution has been the driving force behind industry convergence. The flow of content across various media platforms has rested on the collaboration between the different media industries.
  • Business
    A space for entrepreneurs, executives and consumers to disucss best practices in business developent, growth and strategy.
  • Accelerator
    A three day competition discovering advancements in social media and mobile applications.
  • Emerging
    Discussions on the near and long term future of technology.
  • Meet Ups
    Opportunities to network with technology industry professionals.
  • Workshops
    More in depth advanced technical sessions focussing on a particular topic.
  • The Future of Journalism
    A much heated debate, these sessions will consider the roles of both citizen and professional journalists; content curation over content creation; and the certaintly that that the reinvention of journalism is upon us.
  • Work and Happiness
    The emergence of the socal web has made the already blurry line between our online and offline lives almost non-existant. In a virtual world where at the click of the button users can socialise and connect, more and more individuals are outsourcing their love lives online; begging the question whether the key key to personal and professional happiness lies online.
  • Social Graph
    Building upon the social infrastructure of the web, this abstract concept describes the online connections and relationships between internet users. Sessions will look to evaluate the significance of these online relationships and how to best manage them.
  • Education
    This track will bring together teachers, adminstrators and other eduational professionals to look at the impact of technology on education.
  • Health
    For individuals vested in using new technologies to help promote healthcare education and alleviate health disparities.
  • Robotics
    This theme will examine the mechanics of robots and their potential value to society and the futurtr of artifical intelligence.

There were a good number of Panelists who were also keen to promote their books. Barnes and Noble hosted the South By Bookstore and here there were numerous opportunities to meet the authors behind the books at special appearances and book signings.  In addition hundreds of exhibitors were present at the Trade Show, many of whom also sponsered special events; providing global networking opportunities.


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