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Austin, here I come! Here are the panels and keynotes I'll be attending, what to look out for
Anyone who has ever been to SXSW in recent years knows one thing: there is a hell of a lot to see.
SXSW 2011 will be my first ever and I couldn't be more excited to start exploring. Almost overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of panels, presentations and parties, I've decided to publish a sampling of the day events I'm most excited about. Who knows if I'll actually make it to every single one, but I'll try my best! (Excluded are all the super sweet soirées I'll be swimming through in the evenings.)
Friday, March 11
Depending on who you ask, social media's influence on protests and revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East has either been grossly exaggerated or hugely underrated. Either way, something's really happening and people are talking about it. I'm looking forward to seeing what this panel, featuring members of the press and more, think about technological innovations and revolution.
Brian Reynolds, Chief Gaming Designer for Zynga, will be discussing the next frontier of social gaming. If 2009 was about introducing social gaming to the world and 2010 was about those games going mainstream, where will 2011 take us? I'm especially eager to see if Reynold responds to criticisms made recently by veteran video game developers like Nintendo.
I know it's my job to stay on top of the social apps market, but, man, the singularity. It's "HERE." The first panel brings together three executives from three budding group chat services--Yobongo, Convore and GroupMe--so it will be interesting to see whether a bloodbath breaks out between the three. Alternatively... there's the singularity. Do you see how hard this is?
Saturday, March 12
Various writers and other media experts will present on transforming your digital works of text, like blog posts, emails, tweets, etc., into a cohesive piece worthy of being printed and distributed as a (gasp!) book. Of course, writing apps and services will necessarily play an important role.
It may not have been the crowd favorite for location apps from SXSW 2009 (that's Foursquare) and it may not be directly integrated into the official SXSW Go app (that's Gowalla), but SCVNGR can hold its own in the location arena by focusing even more intensely on the gaming aspect of check-ins. The company's "chief ninja," Seth Priebatsch, will present his thesis that, while social ruled the last decade, gaming will rule the next.
Sunday, March 13
"Can 'tweeting' release Oxytocin?" That's one way to introduce your panel. Most people, especially us tech aficionados, know the feeling of really really needing to check your email account for new messages or Facebook for new notifications. It's obviously addicting; I just want to know how bad it is.
No! I'm one of them! Okay, but maybe it's gotten a little out of hand. After all, in the next few years, being a social media expert will be as mandatory as being an email or productivity suite expert. Sam Decker of Mass Relevance and Sean McDonald of Colony Master will be sharing insights by turning the room into a virtual social media experience.
The 4chan founder just last month launched a brand new website called Canvas. Since 4chan is pretty much responsible for originating every horrible (but often hilarious) meme on the Web, Canvas must be something pretty exciting.
NYT executive editor Bill Keller, joined by Evan Smith, CEO and Editor in Chief of the Texas Tribune, talk old media in the age of new media.
Monday, March 14
An Interactive Crossover with the Film portion of SXSW, this panel will discuss how control over music has shifted from the hands of DJs and record labels to software developers. Today, it is data accessible via the API that tells you everything you need to know about music--lyrics, set lists, metadata, everything.
This one's an interview with Dennis Crowley, Foursquare CEO and co-founder, which is interesting because Foursquare is now embedded in SXSW as that tiny little unknown app that left the festival with 5,000 fans. Now that location services are finally trickling into mainstream usage, what can we expect their influence to be on daily social interactions?
No tech stars here, just academics. And it's another Crossover event. The panel will delve into the different providers of metadata, comparing more open, peer-generated sources with proprietary sources. They'll also look into social and political issues related to metadata.
Tuesday, March 15
As graduation rates dip and tuitions rise, it's clear that education in this country is facing a dilemma. Meanwhile, a plethora of startups have cropped offering industry-disrupting services, like book rentals and digital textbooks. But I sometimes wonder whether these products and services will be enough to help solve the larger problem.
There's little to no information on the presentation, but it's Reid Hoffman. He's almost as important as the singularity.
There's more to come next week, for the second part of SXSW.
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