BY IAN PANCHEVRE
Silicon Hills News Reporter
It’s okay if you haven’t heard the rumors yet.
Supposedly – and this has been verified by a number of sources who are generally in the know – gossip has been stirring about the sudden appearance of various technology professionals and enthusiasts in Austin this weekend. Apparently, a bunch of people randomly decided to travel from distant lands and descend upon Texas’ capitol.
I’ve been told there’s some sort of conference going on. I think it’s called South by Southwest. But I’m not sure. I’ve only heard people say “South by.” And every time I’ve read about the get-together, it’s referred to as “SXSW.”
At any rate, I was told there would be plenty of free food and drinks of the alcoholic persuasion. That was all I needed to hear to plan on going. But when I learned that a Badge for the Interactive Festival cost $1,150, I suddenly had second thoughts.
Fortunately, I learned about a program called Interact, which is a “community of the brightest young entrepreneurs in the startup scene.” Interact was founded by Maran Nelson, a senior at the University of Texas. Their premier event, Interact ATX, has partnered with high-profile sponsors to generously provide discounted badges to 100 young entrepreneurs, as well as exclusive events for the 2013 Interact class.
Somehow, I managed to trick the good people of Interact into thinking I was bright, young and an entrepreneur.
The truth is, I’m 23 which feels surprisingly old. Sure, I was fortunate to attend an Ivy League school, but my two-year stint in New Haven was enough to teach me that “bright” is very much a subjective term. As for being an entrepreneur? I’ve worked on a few projects, past and present, the pinnacle of which was a social, customer-loyalty app called Qliq. But everyone knows that you’re not a real entrepreneur until your company IPOs or sells for 10+ figures. So I’ve still got some work to do until I can plan my sabbatical on the French Riviera.
But enough about me. Let’s talk about South by Southwest, erm, SXSW.
Needless to say, I’m excited for what’s to come. So excited that a declarative sentence, written in all caps and followed by a dozen exclamation points would underrate my excitement.
I’M SO EXCITED THAT I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!!!!!!!!!!!!
No, seriously. What am I doing these next few days?
As a SXSW novice I don’t really know how to navigate the festival. Fortunately, Interact ATX has put a few events on the calendar for me. But I can’t help but notice that hours of my days are open, unstructured, free.
For the past few days, almost by the hour, I’ve been learning – through email, twitter, blogs, Facebook, and carrier pigeons – of some new, super awesome, can’t miss, absolutely-must-attend meet up, crawl, hackathon, pool party, rooftop party, nightclub party, and lounge party.
And then there’s the serious stuff. The keynotes, the presentations, the workshops.
Fortunately, there are lots of resources for keeping tabs on SXSW.
Twitter aficionados might find it useful to follow a few accounts, which have been carefully curated by The Horn: @ChronSXSW, @AusChronMusic, @sxswparty, @360sxsw, @SPINsxsw, @googlesxsw, @Media_TheHorn, @rsvpforyourlife, @SXSWbaby, @SXSWPartyList, @sxswist and @Do512.
If you’re a traditionalist, the official SXSW website is a good place to start. Take note that if you have a badge to any of the three festivals – Music, Film, and Interactive – you’ll also have access to the Comedy events. Hello Sarah Silverman!
For the more professionally minded among us, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce has kindly provided a master schedule of events that it is supporting.
And if you want to get ahead of the curve by downloading as many SXSW apps as possible, before the festival (yes, even among early adopters, there are early adopters). Well, this would be the place to start.
I have to admit – it’s already feeling like sensory overload and I haven’t even finished my laundry yet.
And then there’s Silicon Hills News. Susan Lahey, Andrew Moore, and of course, Laura Lorek, will all be present to share their experiences with the world wide web.
As for me? SHN has been fantastically supportive about letting me explore my journalistic whims. So for the next few days, I’ll be writing a series of sorts. This is part 1.0.0 of Adventures in Austin. In future pieces, I’ll explore the economic impact of SXSW, deep-dive into Interact ATX, and comment on the technologies that are making the most noise.
But right now, I need to move some clothes out of the dryer and into a small suitcase. I-35 is calling my name. Time to get going.