Published on February 26, 2014
Webbmedia Group’s 5th Annual Curated Guide to SXSW March 2014 webbmediagroup.com | @webbmediagroup
Every year, Webbmedia Group combs through the SXSW conference lineup and selects speakers, screenings, workshops and panel sessions that we think are the most relevant to/ interesting for our clients. You’ll find the day, date, time, name of session, location and a reason why we think you should attend. SXSWi is a massive festival, bringing together bright minds in digital media, technology, journalism, health, film, space, business, gaming and more. (And that’s before the Music side of the festival launches.) With hundreds of sessions, parties and meetups spread across dozens of venues around Austin, it can be difficult to navigate. We’ve included a short synopsis, key logistical details and the reason why we think you should attend. Webbmedia Group will be on-site throughout SXSW interactive. If you’d like to meet with us, or if you’d like for us to facilitate introductions to startups or other presenters, please contact our office: 267-342-4300 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See you in Austin! webbmediagroup.com | @webbmediagroup
How to Survive SXSW This is the 28th anniversary of the conference, and the 21st anniversary year of the Interactive festival. If you haven’t already made hotel reservations, plan to rent a car and stay in West Texas – everything’s been booked for months. This year, expect fewer panel sessions (there are still a few hundred), 300 trade show booths and 30,000 Interactive conference attendees. Make sure to complete your online social profile so that you can connect with other attendees...but mainly so that you can get through registration faster. Avoid the crowds: get to registration right when it opens or much later in the early evening. You’ll get a bunch of stuff, including a welldesigned bag, at registration. The most important piece of information in that bag is the venue map. Take a few minutes to orient yourself and to figure out which venue is where. The weather dictates a lot at SXSW. If it rains, expect sessions to be absolutely packed and difficult to get into. This year for the first time, to help with crowding, priority seating is being offered to some of the panels (see below). We recommend bringing a raincoat that you can fold and keep in your bag. The Hilton lobby is a good place to hang out and meet other entrepreneurs and funders. That said, seating is always extremely limited. If you need to have some business meetings, pick a restaurant or a bar instead. If you don’t make a plan for SXSW, you’ll return home, hear a bunch of great stories and wonder which conference you went to by mistake. Decide on a few panels and a few parties each day. Get to the sessions you really want to see early, and make sure you’re on RSVP lists. For parties, check Eventbrite for a good list of what’s available by searching SXSW in Austin. Twenty minutes of planning will help ensure that you have a great festival. Plan your meals in early. There are lots and lots of great restaurants within walking distance, but they’re going to either be crowded or booked for a private SXSW event. Don’t plan your big Iron Works BBQ outing for noon on Saturday. Pick off-peak times for meals. If all else fails, the Hilton’s coffee shop has great breakfast tacos -- and they usually stock extras to last until mid-afternoon. As you’re probably now realizing, much of the action takes place at the parties. You can certainly try to show up and get in to parties once you’re in Austin, but it’s much better if you arrange to get on the guest lists well in advance. The Austin airport is relatively small. You’ll need extra time to get through TSA than you might expect as you catch your flight home. Pro tip: you’ll find excellent food at the airport, including BBQ. Don’t sound like a tourist. Veterans call the conference “Southby.” Speaking of tourists...SXSW is great for the city of Austin, but it’s also a big disruption for the folks who live and work there year-round. Be kind to the locals and treat your host city well.
Getting Around SXSW Years ago, SXSW started to outgrow the city of Austin – that’s made getting around challenging, but not impossible. If you’re at one of the main hotels around the Convention Center, congratulations! You’re in the middle of the action and will be able to walk to just about everything. If you’re staying at one of the outposts, think about transportation before you arrive. You can rent a car and park at one of the hotels (most of the usual public spaces will be hard to find or taken over by event tents). There’s also a shuttle service that goes from the official SX hotels to the venues. Shuttle passes are $80 for the duration of Interactive, but you should purchase them in advance on the SXSW site. webbmediagroup.com | @webbmediagroup
Friday 3:30p - 4:30p 5:00p - 6:00p The Internet of Cars How Twitter Humorists Landed Sweet Real World Gigs Who: Dave Knox, Heidi Browning, John Ellis, Scott Lange Who: Jenny Johnson, Josh Hara, Matt Silverman and Megan Amram Where: Wanderlust Why: You’ve heard of the Internet of Things...what about the Internet of Cars? This session will be packed, so get there early. You can also register for Priority Seating. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP27063 The Next Steve Jobs May Be From Africa Who: Claude Migisha Kalisa, Fred Mweetwa, Gertjan van Stam, Jessica Colaco Where: ACC 12AB Why: Learn how funny people leveraged social media in order to land their dream jobs and high praise from Rolling Stone, Time and the Wall Street Journal. They’ll give you inside tips and ideas for how to use digital media to build a personal brand -- while undoubtedly cracking you up in the process. All the speakers are terrific, making for a great end-of-day panel. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP20465 Where: ACC 9ABC A Fearless Approach to Social Change Why: It isn’t often that we get to learn about and see tech innovations in Africa -- and yet some of the very best mobile payment systems are already in use there. During this session, we hope to learn some new perspectives on mobile banking, e-commerce, mobile education and more. Who: Jean Case, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP20367 Taking the Collaborative Economy to Space Who: Alex Hall, Anousheh Ansari, Bob Richards, Ruben Nunez Where: Omni Downtown Lonestar Why: There’s a space race on, and a handful of companies are working collaboratively to create a new economy. As we start to seriously work on colonizing space, what are lessons learned for entrepreneurs and academics alike? http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP24530 What Social Media Analytics Can’t Tell You Who: Alexandra Samuel, Beth Kanter, Colby Flint, Jeremiah Owyang Where: Sheraton Austin Capitol EFGH Why: Take it with a grain of salt is often heard with social media analytics and this session tackles those grains head on. These speakers ask and will discuss a key question: what can you glean from people who aren’t your in social media audience and the things they aren’t posting. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP22072 Your Founder Is Your Product Manager Who: Alicia Dixon, Jason Shah, Paul Young, Teresa Torres Where: Hilton Garden Inn Red River Why: This is a terrific group who will share their views on startup evolution and how to transition the product management role from the Founder to the first Product Manager. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP18547 Where: Hilton Salon H Why: Jean is a dynamic speaker, and she’ll talk about her experience leading social change. It’s a good opportunity, also, to learn about unlikely partnerships and creative collaborations. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP27668
Saturday 9:30a - 10:30a 11:15a - 11:30a Being Social with Grandma: Social Media for 50+ 43 Tongues: Emerging Market Apps for IOS & Android Who: Aldea Douglas, Andres Castillo Who: Will Sullivan Where: Sheraton Austin Capitol ABCD Where: Austin Convention Center, Ballroom E Why: If there’s a brand that’s getting social media right, it’s AARP -- and it just so happens their target audience is the 50+ population. They’ve created community online with their members and successfully engage across a variety of topics and events. Why: Expect this to be short but a smart look at designing for and targeting the “Other 5 Billion” web users living in areas without freedom of the press or Internet. Will is brilliant and is an expert in mobile. You won’t be disappointed. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP21816 9:30a - 6:30p Type Tasting Global Lettering Workshop Who: Sarah Hyndman Where: AT&T Conference Center Classroom #103 http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP26268 12:30p - 1:30p The Quantified Artist: Biometric Augmented Reality Who: Robert Tuttle Where: Hyatt Regency Austin Texas Ballroom 1-4 Why: This should be a fun, experiential workshop that will allow you to get your hands dirty with typography. Use templates, customize letters and learn about emerging trends in typography. Why: This session will showcase an array of multimedia capture devices, new music productions tools and innovative ways of using biometric sensors as instruments. It’s a different way of thinking about our own personal data, and should help you think more creatively about sensors. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP26742 http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP22230 Breaking the Mold: How to Thrive When Allies Turn Media and the Personal Brand Who: Jehmu Greene, Joanne Bamberger and Sally Kohn Who: Bill Simmons, Nate Silver Where: ACC 10AB Where: ACC Ballroom D Why: All three of the women on this panel have faced a tremendous amount of social backlash for challenging viewpoints contrary to their own. Listen to their stories about how to be an agent of change while even allies are turning against you, and especially as that plays out in digital media. All three are great speakers. Why: Bill and Nate will talk about how independent voices are shaping our digital media landscape. They’re both brilliant – come with questions. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP25608 Who: Katherine Woo, Katie Bisbee, Kevin Conroy, Paull Young 11:00a - 12:00p Live from Space! Talk with Astronauts in Orbit Who: John Yembrick Where: Omni Downtown Capital Ballroom Why: Because how many chances are you really going to get to web chat with astronauts in space? Plus NASA has done some very cool things to change the way it gets its message out, and should have some smart takeaways. Plus, John is a terrific speaker. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP25456 Link: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP26993 The Original Gangsters of Crowdfunding Where: Austin Convention Center 9ABC Why: This session brings you back to the roots of crowdfunding with the folks who have been doing it the longest. Learn why they were successful then and how they’ve stayed in the game as crowdfunding went mainstream. Link: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP23751
Saturday cont’d 3:30p - 6:00p Always be Testing: Detecting Novelty in A/B Tests Who: Amelia Showalter Where: AT&T Conference Center Classroom 102 Why: The former director of digital analytics from President Obama’s re-election campaign is going to show how they tested email, web and ad campaigns, and how they used those lessons to learn and adapt quickly. The workshop is a smart choice for anyone involved with digital content, audience engagement or email newsletters. Ameila is a spectacular speaker and a wonderful mentor. Link: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP25757 5:00p - 6:00p Fearlessly Funny: The Women Changing Digital humor Who: Issa Rae, Jane Pratt, Kristina Wong, Mandy Stadtmiller Where: Austin Convention Center, Room 18ABC Why: This panel, convened by xoJane.com’s editor in chief, promises to be sassy, funny and honest. Bring smart questions to the Q&A and expect to spend some time laughing. Link: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP20635 #TheSXSWRules - Making SXSW Work For You Who: Cathryn Posey, Sophia Wong Where: Courtyard Marriott Brazos Why: This is a good session for folks new to SX (though we think it should have been on the Friday schedule). Cathryn and Sophia are wonderful guides. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP23350
Sunday 11a - 12p 12:30p - 1:30p A Cloud of One’s Own One Does Not Simply Walk into Mordor Who: Dave Sanford, Jeff Kramer Who: Nilofer Merchant, Rachel Sklar Where: Sheraton Austin Capitol View North Where: Sheraton Austin Capitol ABCD Why: You’ve undoubtedly heard a lot about the cloud, but this session promises to delve into the special needs and opportunities presented by emerging personal clouds. This should be an active discussion session rather than a traditional PowerPoint presentation, which means it’s a fantastic opportunity to get expert answers to all your questions. Why: The ‘who you know’ game is rigged -- and these speakers know it. This session is a smart choice for anyone who is trying to get a foot in the door, but has stopped in the past because they felt like they didn’t go to the right school or know the secret handshake. Nilofer and Rachel are dynamic, insightful speakers and mentors. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP23258 http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP25750 Running the Show: TV’s New Queen of Comedy Injecting Computation Everywhere Who: Adam Pally, Anne Fulenwider, Ike Bairnholtz and Mindy Kaling Who: Stephen Wolfram Where: ACC Ballroom D Why: The Mindy Project castmates will talk about how the show has evolved and about the emerging new crop of female showrunners. It’s a big room, but this is a combined Interactive and Film session and it’s sure to be packed. Get there early and plan to wait in line. Why: We always find Wolfram’s talks to be insightful, funny and inspiring. He’ll no doubt talk about Wolfram Alpha, but he’ll most likely also show how computational search and data can be used in lots of new ways. Get there early, as his session is usually standing room only and a line forms outside well before the session starts. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP27482 http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP27295 Everyone’s a Curator - Do Museums Still Matter? Hacking Princess Culture: Girls, Games, & Science Who: Jennifer Yin, Kathryn Jaller, Sarah Bailey Hogarty, Willa Koerner Who: Jennifer Oxley, Lindsey Shepard, Sara DeWitt Where: Omni Downtown Longhorn Why: With so much focus on how professional women can lean in and crack the glass ceiling, this session starts earlier and looks at changing the future for women by starting with girls. If you saw GoldieBlox’s Super Bowl commercial and got excited, this is a good pick for you. Why: These days, everyone’s a curator. (Including us!) Learn about how technology can be leveraged to curate, and what the future holds for museums. If you see the parallels between online storytelling and art curation, this should be fascinating. This is a fantastic opportunity to ask Willa about how the SFMOMA has continued to attract an audience and cultivate its community while it’s shut down for renovations. There are lessons here for anyone hoping to build a relationship with their audiences. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP20388 Building the Bridge to Equality with Allies Who: Adria Richards, Hudson Taylor Where: Austin Convention Center Room 5ABC Why: Adria Richards turned heads, ignited the web and even received death threats last year after she named and shamed attendees who made her feel uncomfortable at a tech event. Now she’s changing the conversation, offering to give folks tools to be come a better ally in their community, school or workplace. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP24240 Where: ACC Exhibit Hall 5 Where: Long Center Dell Hall http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP21933 Accurate, Fair & Safe Who: Eric Carvin, Jennifer Preston Where: Austin Convention Center Room 18ABCD Why: Both Eric and Jennifer have stellar reputations and have spoken extensively on social media reporting. Now they’re pairing up to examine the role of citizen journalists and the responsibilities newsrooms have to these sources. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP22078
Sunday cont’d 3:30p - 4:30p Glassholes: The Cultural Dissonance of Technology Who: Elise Hu, Patrick Miller, Perry Fair, Timothy Jordan Where: Sheraton Austin Capitol EFGH Why: From the first time you saw a guy talking to himself with a Bluetooth earpiece and thought, “who does this guy think he is?” to the next time you see someone wandering around wearing Google Glass, you’ve definitely had the feeling this panel wants to examine: that wearable and ever-present tech might turn us all into narcissistic voyeurs. Also, Elise is brilliant -- even if she’s telling you that you might become a “glasshole.” http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP22509 What: Mission 31 - How Exploration Enhances Advocacy Who: Fabien Cousteau Where: ACC 9ABC Why: You may recognize his last name -- Fabien hails from a long line of ocean explorers, having grown up on the decks of his famous grandfather’s ships. Fabien will soon head deep into the ocean to live for 31 days in order to conduct science experiments around climate change. He’s a really great speaker. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP27384 4:00p - 5:00p I Measure Every Single Thing My Kid Does Who: Amy Webb (Webbmedia Group and Spark Camp) Where: ACC Ballroom F Why: Last year, Amy explained how she used data and analytics to hack online dating and meet her husband. This year, she’s back to explain her data-driven approach to parenting. Even if you’re not a parent yourself, you’ll learn how to apply the techniques of Big Data to everyday life, your startups and more. Immediately following her talk, Amy will be at the SXSW bookstore signing copies of her book “Data, A Love Story: How I Cracked The Online Dating Code To Meet My Match” (now out in paperback). http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP20068 5:00p - 6:00p Printing Chocolate - Food on Demand Who: Daniel Heron, Levi Lalla Where: Omni Downtown Capital Ballroom Why: We always recommend trying to take in a few panels that are well outside of your usual professional focus, to help you gain perspective and see fresh ideas. Whether or not you’re a foodie, this session will help you think about 3D printing in new and unexpected ways. When was the last time you watched someone print food?! http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP22759
Monday 9:30a - 10:30a 3:30p - 4:30p Who: Gail Marie, Kristina Eastham, Mike Schmidth, Robert Hernandez Who: Glenn Greenwald, Micah Sifry Where: Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB Why: More content doesn’t always mean better, especially online. Who is the gatekeeper for digital content; who helps readers decide what to trust?; and who sets the ethical standards? Robert is a great speaker with a deep background in journalism. Why: This should be a dynamic conversation between Greenwald, who’s changing the way we think about privacy and journalism, and Micah Sifry, who has long been at the forefront of democracy and technology. They’re both terrific speakers — bring lots of questions. It’ll probably be very crowded, so get there early. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP22833 http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP27593 What: Multiplatform Strategies for Making Good Happen What: Platforms vs. Publishers: A Big New Theory Who: Caitlin Burns, Lina Srivastava, Liz Nord and Morra Aarons-Mele Who: Zach Seward Where: Driskill Hotel Ballroom Why: Zach Seward posits that a big decision for media brands is where they choose to settle on a spectrum between publisher and platform. It might feel a little meta, but should be a good discussion for anyone who wants people to read, share and pay for their content. Zach is brilliant and generous -- even if this topic itself isn’t of interest, go to hear Zach’s perspective, which will undoubtedly broaden yours. If Content Is King, Who Is Sheriff? Why: This panel has a wealth of experience in political organizing, documentary filmmaking, education and storytelling. You’ll learn how to use technology for social good. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP19803 11a - 12p What: A Conversation With Glenn Greenwald Where: ACC Exhibit Hall 5 Where: Driskill Hotel Maximillian What: It’s Not Rocket Science: UX for Niche Communities http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP17944 Who: Joseph Medwid, Kevin McMillin 5:00p - 6:00p Where: Four Seasons Ballrom Why: We’re always excited to hear from NASA, but this session in particular will talk about the particular needs of user experience design for very specific purposes. What is your system is only for five users? What if you don’t really need to scale your experience? There should me many lessons learned that can be applied across industries. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP17123 What: Do Algorithms Dream of Viral Content? Who: David Carr, Eli Pariser Where: Austin Convention Center Ballroom D Why: Where Old Media meets New: a New York Times media reporter/columnist and the CEO of Upworthy talk virality of content and the role of algorithms. This should be a great discussion. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP27896 What: How Elizabeth Warren Built Her Grassroots Army Who: Amanda Coulombe, Lauren Miller, Mike Firestone, Mindy Myers - Elizabeth Warren’s team Where: ACC Room 10AB Why: In 2012, Elizabeth Warren’s team launched and ran one of the more successful digital campaigns in Senate history. Her team will discuss what they did, what they learned and what all of that means for the 2014 political season. This will be a great session -- especially if you’re not involved in politics. http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP23462 Tuesday 11am - 12pm Future Foods - New Cuisine for a New Age Who: Glenn Zorpette, Pablos Holman Where: Radisson Town Lake Why: The future of food is upon us, whether we’re printing it, growing it in a lab or processing it in unexpected ways. What are these new technologies? How will they work -- and how will they impact society? http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_IAP20607
Webbmedia Group Webbmedia Group (http://www.webbmediagroup.com) is a digital strategy agency that focuses on near-term emerging technology trends. We prepare our clients for future business disruption using research, ideation and a vast knowledge of what’s about to change in the digital ecosystem. Webbmedia Group works with Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies as well as large nonprofits, universities and government agencies based all over the world. Twitter: @webbmediagroup Flickr photo credits: Jim Nix, Charles Henry, Michaël Stone, and Blue Hour Admiral. webbmediagroup.com | @webbmediagroup
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