Tech heaven in Austin
Digital sex appeal: SXSW Interactive grows up (plus our top panel picks &parties)
Not too long ago, SXSW Interactive was perceived by the general public (or, specifically, by its SXSW Film and Music relatives) as that nerdy little sister who would over-zealously cramp your cool-kid style on the playground. SXSWi would be ignored at parties, made fun of by her siblings, and kept at a safe distance from the more mainstream, popular crowd to prevent coolness contamination.
Now that nerdy little sister to whom no one admitted relation has grown up, gone through puberty, and emerged as Austin's Sexy Young Thing — much of which is thanks to pop culture’s recent obsession with technology and its outrageously young billionaires.
Perhaps the most measurable piece of evidence in support of a wide-spread glorification of geekery has been the bowing down of the television, print, and music industry giants to the irrefutable need for guidance, into the digital era, from that once misunderstood throng of young genii.
Beginning Friday, SXSWi will be showcasing the fact that not only does emerging technology keep getting smarter, it keeps getting sexier. Industry spearheads have become cultural icons and purveyors of cool.
Take Mashable's head beef-cake, founder, and CEO Pete Cashmore, who runs one of the Top 40 most followed Twitter accounts and is consistently voted a Top Web Celeb by Forbes. Cashmore will take the stage to interview Foursquare’s CEO and co-founder Dennis Crowley about how even your mom is “checking in” at your local H-E-B.
(And — if only to further drive the point home home — when the site was first launched out of his Harvard dorm room, who could have guessed that Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg would soon be snuggling up to Katy Perry or be played by a hip actor in a film that would be nominated for an array of Oscars?)
Now that technology has just as strong a cultural hold as film and music ever did, it’s proving that it can party with the best of ‘em. Over the next five days, countless parties will be thrown by the likes of Google, Mashable, Vimeo, Twitter, Nikon, PBS, Gowalla and CultureMap, and people will wait, yes wait, to get into them.
Not only will booze be abundant, but SXSWi has borrowed from SXSW Music’s roster to pull in big-name entertainment such as the Local Natives, Diplo, and Matt & Kim for official parties. The fact that these artists are just as eager to play for these digital institutions is testament to the idea that technology has its finger firmly on the pulse of youth culture.
With days spent engrossed in learning about emerging ideas from baby-faced developers and seasoned businessmen and nights filled with socializing/social networking, SXSWi might offer the most well-rounded experience of the three conferences. As the interactive conference continues to develop its own brand of sex-appeal, the industry as a whole will continue to be looked upon with awe and wonder as hot-shot whiz-kids develop and release product after product that revolutionize the way we relate, consume, share... and party.
SXSW Interactive features five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders, the incredible new SXSW Trade Show and an unbeatable lineup of special programs showcasing the best new digital works, video games and innovative ideas the international community has to offer.
Top Panel Picks:
The Art of Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki
Fan to Fanatic: True Blood’s Marketing Hook
David vs. Goliath: Lessons learned from Lamebook vs. Facebook
Being Funny on Twitter (Without Getting Fired)
Why Everything is Amazing but No One is Happy
Top Party Picks:
Light After Dark Presented by Vimeo + Nikon w/ Diplo
See the World with Gowalla w/ Matt + Kim
SAY Media w/ the Local Natives
Groupon Presents: SXSW Hangover Brunch
GSD&M + Google: The Industry Party