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Webbmedia Groups 5th Annual Curated Guide to SXSW

March 2014 | @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. Youll nd 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, lm, space, business, gaming and more. (And thats 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. Weve 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 youd like to meet with us, or if youd like for us to facilitate introductions to startups or other presenters, please contact our office: 267-342-4300 or See you in Austin! | @webbmediagroup

How to Survive SXSW

This is the 28th anniversary of the conference, and the 21st anniversary year of the Interactive festival. If you havent already made hotel reservations, plan to rent a car and stay in West Texas everythings 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 prole 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. Youll 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 gure 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 rst 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 dont make a plan for SXSW, youll 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 youre on RSVP lists. For parties, check Eventbrite for a good list of whats 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 theyre going to either be crowded or booked for a private SXSW event. Dont plan your big Iron Works BBQ outing for noon on Saturday. Pick off-peak times for meals. If all else fails, the Hiltons coffee shop has great breakfast tacos -- and they usually stock extras to last until mid-afternoon. As youre 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 youre in Austin, but its much better if you arrange to get on the guest lists well in advance. The Austin airport is relatively small. Youll need extra time to get through TSA than you might expect as you catch your ight home. Pro tip: youll nd excellent food at the airport, including BBQ. Dont sound like a tourist. Veterans call the conference Southby. Speaking of tourists...SXSW is great for the city of Austin, but its 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 thats made getting around challenging, but not impossible. If youre at one of the main hotels around the Convention Center, congratulations! Youre in the middle of the action and will be able to walk to just about everything. If youre 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 nd or taken over by event tents). Theres 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

3:30p - 4:30p
The Internet of Cars Who: Dave Knox, Heidi Browning, John Ellis, Scott Lange Where: Wanderlust Why: Youve 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.

5:00p - 6:00p
How Twitter Humorists Landed Sweet Real World Gigs Who: Jenny Johnson, Josh Hara, Matt Silverman and Megan Amram 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. Theyll 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 terric, making for a great end-of-day panel.

The Next Steve Jobs May Be From Africa Who: Claude Migisha Kalisa, Fred Mweetwa, Gertjan van Stam, Jessica Colaco Where: ACC 9ABC Why: It isnt 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.

A Fearless Approach to Social Change Who: Jean Case, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin Where: Hilton Salon H Why: Jean is a dynamic speaker, and shell talk about her experience leading social change. Its a good opportunity, also, to learn about unlikely partnerships and creative collaborations.

Taking the Collaborative Economy to Space Who: Alex Hall, Anousheh Ansari, Bob Richards, Ruben Nunez Where: Omni Downtown Lonestar Why: Theres 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?

What Social Media Analytics Cant 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 arent your in social media audience and the things they arent posting.

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 terric group who will share their views on startup evolution and how to transition the product management role from the Founder to the rst Product Manager.

9:30a - 10:30a
Being Social with Grandma: Social Media for 50+ Who: Aldea Douglas, Andres Castillo Where: Sheraton Austin Capitol ABCD Why: If theres a brand thats getting social media right, its AARP -- and it just so happens their target audience is the 50+ population. Theyve created community online with their members and successfully engage across a variety of topics and events.

11:15a - 11:30a
43 Tongues: Emerging Market Apps for IOS & Android Who: Will Sullivan Where: Austin Convention Center, Ballroom E 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 wont be disappointed.

9:30a - 6:30p
Type Tasting Global Lettering Workshop Who: Sarah Hyndman Where: AT&T Conference Center Classroom #103 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.

12:30p - 1:30p
The Quantied Artist: Biometric Augmented Reality Who: Robert Tuttle Where: Hyatt Regency Austin Texas Ballroom 1-4 Why: This session will showcase an array of multimedia capture devices, new music productions tools and innovative ways of using biometric sensors as instruments. Its a different way of thinking about our own personal data, and should help you think more creatively about sensors.

Breaking the Mold: How to Thrive When Allies Turn Who: Jehmu Greene, Joanne Bamberger and Sally Kohn Where: ACC 10AB 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.

Media and the Personal Brand Who: Bill Simmons, Nate Silver Where: ACC Ballroom D Why: Bill and Nate will talk about how independent voices are shaping our digital media landscape. Theyre both brilliant come with questions.

The Original Gangsters of Crowdfunding Who: Katherine Woo, Katie Bisbee, Kevin Conroy, Paull Young 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 theyve stayed in the game as crowdfunding went mainstream.

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 terric speaker.

Saturday contd
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 Obamas 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.

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.coms editor in chief, promises to be sassy, funny and honest. Bring smart questions to the Q&A and expect to spend some time laughing.

#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.

11a - 12p
A Cloud of Ones Own Who: Dave Sanford, Jeff Kramer Where: Sheraton Austin Capitol View North Why: Youve 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 its a fantastic opportunity to get expert answers to all your questions.

12:30p - 1:30p
One Does Not Simply Walk into Mordor Who: Nilofer Merchant, Rachel Sklar Where: Sheraton Austin Capitol ABCD 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 didnt go to the right school or know the secret handshake. Nilofer and Rachel are dynamic, insightful speakers and mentors.

Running the Show: TVs New Queen of Comedy Who: Adam Pally, Anne Fulenwider, Ike Bairnholtz and Mindy Kaling 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. Its a big room, but this is a combined Interactive and Film session and its sure to be packed. Get there early and plan to wait in line.

Injecting Computation Everywhere Who: Stephen Wolfram Where: ACC Exhibit Hall 5 Why: We always nd Wolframs talks to be insightful, funny and inspiring. Hell no doubt talk about Wolfram Alpha, but hell 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.

Everyones a Curator - Do Museums Still Matter? Who: Jennifer Yin, Kathryn Jaller, Sarah Bailey Hogarty, Willa Koerner Where: Omni Downtown Longhorn Why: These days, everyones 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 its shut down for renovations. There are lessons here for anyone hoping to build a relationship with their audiences.

Hacking Princess Culture: Girls, Games, & Science Who: Jennifer Oxley, Lindsey Shepard, Sara DeWitt Where: Long Center Dell Hall 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 GoldieBloxs Super Bowl commercial and got excited, this is a good pick for you.

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 theyre pairing up to examine the role of citizen journalists and the responsibilities newsrooms have to these sources.

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 shes changing the conversation, offering to give folks tools to be come a better ally in their community, school or workplace.

Sunday contd
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 rst 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, youve denitely 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 shes telling you that you might become a glasshole.

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 grandfathers ships. Fabien will soon head deep into the ocean to live for 31 days in order to conduct science experiments around climate change. Hes a really great speaker.

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, shes back to explain her data-driven approach to parenting. Even if youre not a parent yourself, youll 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).

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 youre 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?!

9:30a - 10:30a
If Content Is King, Who Is Sheriff? Who: Gail Marie, Kristina Eastham, Mike Schmidth, Robert Hernandez Where: Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB Why: More content doesnt 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.

3:30p - 4:30p

What: A Conversation With Glenn Greenwald Who: Glenn Greenwald, Micah Sifry Where: ACC Exhibit Hall 5 Why: This should be a dynamic conversation between Greenwald, whos changing the way we think about privacy and journalism, and Micah Sifry, who has long been at the forefront of democracy and technology. Theyre both terric speakers bring lots of questions. Itll probably be very crowded, so get there early.

What: Multiplatform Strategies for Making Good Happen Who: Caitlin Burns, Lina Srivastava, Liz Nord and Morra Aarons-Mele Where: Driskill Hotel Ballroom Why: This panel has a wealth of experience in political organizing, documentary lmmaking, education and storytelling. Youll learn how to use technology for social good.

What: Platforms vs. Publishers: A Big New Theory Who: Zach Seward Where: Driskill Hotel Maximillian 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 isnt of interest, go to hear Zachs perspective, which will undoubtedly broaden yours.

11a - 12p

What: Its Not Rocket Science: UX for Niche Communities Who: Joseph Medwid, Kevin McMillin Where: Four Seasons Ballrom Why: Were always excited to hear from NASA, but this session in particular will talk about the particular needs of user experience design for very specic purposes. What is your system is only for ve users? What if you dont really need to scale your experience? There should me many lessons learned that can be applied across industries.

5:00p - 6:00p

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.

What: How Elizabeth Warren Built Her Grassroots Army Who: Amanda Coulombe, Lauren Miller, Mike Firestone, Mindy Myers - Elizabeth Warrens team Where: ACC Room 10AB Why: In 2012, Elizabeth Warrens 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 youre not involved in politics.

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 were 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?

Webbmedia Group
Webbmedia Group ( 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 whats about to change in the digital ecosystem. Webbmedia Group works with Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies as well as large nonprots, universities and government agencies based all over the world. Twitter: @webbmediagroup

Flickr photo credits: Jim Nix, Charles Henry, Michal Stone, and Blue Hour Admiral. | @webbmediagroup