25 (ok, actually 26) SXSWi Panel Recommendations

The SXSW Panel Picker is a brilliant idea. Not only does it provide a partially democratic process for panel selection, but it is an opportunity to get the community excited about potential programming, months in advance of the event. I spent a few hours this morning, shifting through the > 2300 proposals (and that’s just for Interactive), and came up with a few gems, based on my years of attending SXSW, that I’d like to see make it into the program come March.

(Updated with the panels that have been accepted so far. 14 out of 26 for Interactive – not too shabby…)


First off, this year, I decided to go with proposing a music-related panel, combining my love of music and tech. I also really enjoyed the cross-over programming the Interactive sponsored on the last day during the 2010 festival. There are 15 panels submitted to the Interactive in the Music category, and here are some of the most interesting that I feel with push the envelope of tech and music:

Accepted Love, Music and APIs, Dave Haynes of SoundCloud – “Using open APIs, developers are creating new apps that change how people explore, discover, create and interact with music…We’ll describe some of the novel APIs that are making this happen and what sort of building blocks are being put into place from a variety of different sources. We’ll demonstrate how companies within this ecosystem are working closely together in a spirit of co-operation.”

We Built This App on Rock ‘N’ Roll: Style Matters, Hannah Donovan, last.fm – “Music has always been analogous with visual culture. So what happens when you overlay this complex fabric of cultural values and personal identities on what is already a thorny process: building and launching a music app… learn how to increase engagement with your music app through an active and inquisitive approach to visuals.”

AcceptedThe Role of Digital Media in International Collaboration, Troy Campbell, House of Songs, LLC – this was listed under Digital Distribution, but it is also music related. “The House has been operating since September 2009 and has provided the foundation for creative collaboration between some of the strongest Austin and Scandinavian songwriters. Through these experiences, the participating songwriters have created numerous potential relationships and have attained unique experiences benefiting their musical careers.”

And a shameless plug for my own, which is in conjunction with the location-based social network Gowalla. Your comments and votes are appreciated.

Accepted Rockin’ the Check-in: Location Strategies for Musicians, Cindy Royal, Texas State U. and Jonathan Carroll, Gowalla – “Certain bands have always had fans that followed them from city to city, meeting other fans, sharing music and stories. New social media tools, like the location-based social networks can be used as platforms for rewarding fans for desired behaviors. Musicians can engage these services by encouraging fans to check-in at shows, offering rewards for multiple check-ins on a tour, providing a space for fans to aggregate photos and videos, and offering a way for fans to develop their own interactions, like organizing meet-ups and creating trips.”


The next most likely category for me to consider is Journalism, as I teach the subject and have an intense interest in the future of the news industry. Lately, I have been focusing on the relationship of data, programming and journalism which was originally fostered by my annual SXSW participation. Here are some of the most interesting panels in this regard:

Pulitzer 2.0: Building News Apps, Tyson Evans, NY Times – Tyson, along with Pulitzer winner Matt Waite, participated on my core conversation, Influence and Innovate: Transforming Media Education, last year. “A look at the emerging startup culture in newsrooms new and old, big and small, as they embrace software frameworks such as Ruby on Rails and Django to tackle serious, long-term investigations, track major events and increase government accountability.”

Accepted The Impact of Social Media Tools in Mexico, Amy Schmitz-Weiss, San Diego State University – Amy’s a great friend and a respected scholar in this area. This proposal fits right in with SXSW’s call for proposals related to Latin America & Mexico. “This panel features journalists from Mexico who will discuss how they use social media tools in their news organizations on a daily basis. In addition, they will discuss how Mexican citizens are using Twitter as a way to respond the lack of information in the newspapers that are under threat of drug traffickers.”

AcceptedHacking the News: Applying Computer Science to Journalism, Burt Herman, Hacks/Hackers – This proposal gets right to the heart of the issue, integrating journalism and technology. I will be developing a Hacks/Hackers chapter in Austin. “Applying lessons from computer science can help make journalism more scalable, flexible and personalized. This panel will discuss developments such as object-oriented programming, model-view controller frameworks, database-driven Web applications and social code repositories — and explore how these principles can be applied to journalism and create the future of storytelling.”

AcceptedYes, It’s Quiz Time: News as Infotainment, Evan Smith, Texas Tribune – News as user experience is an area on which I have been focusing, and what’s a more engaging experience than a game. Make news fun. “Comedy shows and interactive quizzes have become popular ways to consume journalism today. This session will address the successes and limits of providing serious news in entertaining ways.”

Why Journalism Doesn’t Need Saving: An Optimist’s List, Dan Gillmor, Arizona State University – Author Dan Gillmor takes a different approach to the future of news – a more refreshing one. “But there are many more reasons for optimism than pessimism. innovators are transforming the methods of journalism and community information, with new experiments showing up almost every day.”


Since my panel also deals with this, I plucked out a few good ones in this category.

Accepted Beyond the Check-In: Location and the Social Web, Josh Williams, Gowalla – “”Josh Williams, co-founder and CEO of Austin-based Gowalla, will detail why he and his team have been looking beyond the concept of simply checking in at locations — and how people’s interest in sharing where they are and what they’re doing with friends, family, and the public-at-large is a stepping stone on the path to how people will continue to communicate and express themselves.”

Make Your Event Pop with Location Based Services, Christina Coster, CRC Productions – “This panel will delve into the different types of social media services that individuals and businesses planning events can rely on. We will show you how you can embrace and engage your audience leading up to the event by seeding information in these mobile networks as well as pulling out the metrics and analytics after the event.”

AcceptedConverting Checkin’s to Cash: Why Location Marketing Matters, Simon Salt, Incslingers – “Social Location Marketing is the latest in a long line of Social Media “shiny new objects” but is it really relevant to marketers? Can they convert Checkin’s to cash? Which platforms work best for which markets and how does all this sharing benefit the customer? Attendees will leave knowing why they should be including this in their marketing mix, how to construct a scalable Social Location Marketing campaign and where all this is likely to go next.”

Some Panels to Stretch my Tech Knowledge

Each year, I try to pick some panels to take me out of my comfort zone, that introduce me to new concepts, both skills and ideas, that I am sure will be beneficial to my students. Here are a few of the directions I am leaning:

AcceptedBeyond Wordclouds: Analyzing Trends with Social Media APIs, Chris Busse, Fahrenheit Emerging Media – “This presentation will demonstrate how to programmatically access the APIs of several social media platforms to pull out specific data, store it in a database, and perform custom analysis on it to meet the needs of various business cases. We’ll take a look at how different social media platforms are better suited for gleaning different kinds of data.”

Javascript Breakdown for Designers, Jen Strickland, Ink Pixels Paper – “JavaScript Breakdown for Designers will provide a clear explanation of the DOM, unobtrusive JavaScript that is accessible, flexible, and readily styled using CSS, and provide a path to compelling interaction, providing user feedback, & validating client-side form inputs. An understanding of JavaScript allows the designer to to call upon the power of libraries like jQuery and Dojo to do the JavaScript heavy lifting on browser variations.”

HTML5 & CSS3: The Good Enough Parts, Estelle Weyl, Standardista – “In this practical presentation you will learn what features are implementable and how to implement them. We’ll learn about practical CSS3 selectors that enable targeting of almost any element on the page (in your CSS, or in your JavaScript libraries like jQuery), HTML5 web form elements that enable form validation without the use of JavaScript along with other new to HTML5 elements.”

AcceptedThe Politics Behind HTML5, Charles McCathieNevile, Opera Software – “On this panel, the people who have been there take you on a guided tour of the (smoky backroom) discussions and deals that shape HTML5, and looks at what is happening now. Where did HTML5 come from? Who were the players, who are the players, and what do they think? Why is X3D not in HTML5 if MathML is? What happened to accesskey, and why are people unhappy? Why does HTML5 have two licenses, and two specs?”

AcceptedExploring the Twitter APIs, Matt Harris, Twitter – “This panel will cover the recently released and popular features of the Twitter API and explore creative ways they have been used. We’ll discuss the developments over the past year and what you can expect from the API team in the future.”

API Madness: Data, Data Everywhere, Kevin Lingerfelt, Scout Labs – “As a web service provider, learn more about web frameworks like Django and Rails that facilitate such architectures, and explore the advantages and disadvantages of opening your data up to the Web at large (and how to protect yourself). Conversely, as a consumer of such data, learn about the wealth of APIs that already exist and the many creative ways that they are being used to enrich sites across the Web.”


Since that’s what I do, it’s nice to see lots of great panels around education-related topics.

Girl Developers++: Getting Women Equipped to Ship, Sara Chipps, Girl Developer LLC – “Creating a tangible application for the first time is a giant leap towards the confidence it takes to follow a career in programming. In this discussion, we’ll outline existing efforts and dive into a discussion on what more can be done now to get more women coding away.”

AcceptedIvory Tower Defense: Why Academic Tech Research Matters, Alice Marwick, NYU – “Most academics don’t talk to technologists, and most technologists never read academic work. There’s a cultural disconnect that makes it extremely difficult for the two to meet. And while both spheres are doing fascinating research with potentially explosive impacts, they rarely, if ever, overlap.”

Six Ways Social Media Can Invigorate Journalism Education, Jeremy Littau, Lehigh University – “The approach our panel takes is concepts over specific platforms. Students learn about the value of information overlaid on place, not merely about Gowalla. They learn about how to build an audience of relevant followers and then interact with them to build better news stories, not only about Twitter.”


I don’t always flock to the Advertising panels, but this one that integrated advertising and interactive storytelling looking very interesting:

AcceptedFrom Storytelling to Technology and Back Again, Barry Wacksman, RG/A – “So how do we marry great storytelling with technological innovations? The creation of utility-driven platforms has both the power to seamlessly integrate into a person’s life and provide tools to enhance it. However, finding the perfect balance between technology and storytelling is a challenge.”

Texas State Alumni Propose Panels

We are always very proud when our students and alumni become active with SXSW. This list shows the breadth of experience and interest areas of our alumni. Please give some of these panels your consideration.

The Ladies Have It: Women Make Better Journalists, Anna Tauzin, J-Lab – “This provocative panel will address why traditionally feminine characteristics are best suited for journalism.”

Landing Your Next Job Through Unconventional Personal Branding, Maira Garcia, who just announced her new position as a Web editor at Austin American-Statesman, and Anna Tauzin, J-Lab – “Using the web to market yourself through personal branding is a well-known idea, but how do you rise above the rest and get an edge on the job market? This panel will discuss trends, tried and true methods, and provide expert opinion on making the most of your job search.”

AcceptedToo Small, Too Open: Correcting Wikipedia’s Local Failure, Michael Trice, University of Leeds, Centre for Digital Citizenship – “What happens when Wikipedia isn’t big enough? This is a key question for those developing closed community spaces. Wikipedia came onto the scene promising to offer a repository for all knowledge, but it turned into the world’s best encyclopaedia—absolutely nothing more, nothing less. A remarkable achievement it is, but one that never managed to store local knowledge with the same reverence as general, global knowledge. This panel will explore how developers are trying to address these limitations by building a different kind of collaborative environment.”

Getting Advanced with Social Media for Social Good, Jordan Viator, Convio – “Online supporters are working to save the world one Tweet at a time. But how can nonprofit and philanthropic causes take their efforts to the next level and stand out from the crowd to increase the success of social campaigns? Hear from technologists and nonprofits on how to define and implement the ideal strategy and get advanced with metrics to make social a key component of online fundraising and advocacy campaigns.”

So, that’s my dream SXSWi in a nutshell. No, I didn’t read all 2344 proposals, but I did try to select those that I found the most interesting or intriguing, hosted by the most qualified people. If you have other ideas or your own picks, please feel free to leave a comment.

Looking forward, as I do every year, to another great event!

Update 8/28:

I scoured the music and film panels and found a few that go in interesting directions:



Data! Great, but what to do with it? –  Market data is key for (i) major labels to regain competitiveness; (ii) indie labels to compete head-on with major labels; and (iii) bands and their managers to go straight to market and become successful. Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, MySpace and other data emerged and is collected.  Key is to “own” the fan via an integrated platform and no data analytics business can do that unless they integrate with artist platforms.

How Can Data Help Build My Career? – Data and it’s offspring, analytics, is both a simple and and complex tool, and one of many in the box, that can and should be used for successful artist and career development. Measuring the results of actions and events that take place on behalf of an artist to drive awareness, engagement and revenue provides the quantitative intelligence to inform future decision making.

Social – especially fan-focused

How technology is changing the live music experience – YouTube – Ever watch a live concert in London from your phone on the beach in Los Angeles? This seemed crazy ten years ago, but today it’s possible. Livestreaming and other instant technologies are suddenly making local shows global — letting fans experience the music from home and even interact with other fans on the ground, in real-time.

Separate But Not Equal: Why Superfans Matter More – Whether you’re Nordstrom or Jimmy Buffet, both have learned to pamper those customers/fans who plunk down their credit card more frequently. There are many good reasons why the best of the best, from major retailers to major superstars, have mastered the art of targeting their core consumers. As an artist, understanding and executing on this principle could make the difference when it comes to you making a living with your music.

Authentic Fan Management with the 3-C’s – We’ve all heard about D2F (Direct To Fan) marketing, social networking and promotional guerrilla tactics – but what about the artist’s relationship with their fans? This panel highlights the questions surrounding how to authentically Captivate, Cultivate and Communicate. Fans don’t buy what you do; they buy the connection they feel with you and your creation.

How You Can Survive Giving Away Your Music – It’s inevitable – but, as an artist, if you aren’t planning on giving away at least some of your music for free, chances are you not only missing out on new fans, but you are risking irrelevancy. Learn how “struggling” musicians are making ends meet by giving away their music for free. Learn specific techniques and tools that other musicians have been successful with in this new “freemium”-based economy.

How Mobile Creates Communal Experiences at Live Concerts – The mobile phone is revolutionary in how fans can interact with the artist and each other at live concerts. By incorporating experiences allowing people to connect and relate to each other, artists can create a stronger fan community as part of the live show. Your phone is often the last thing you hold before going to bed and the first thing you pick up after waking up, and it’s ready to transform the live show.

App for That: Using Mobile to Engage Fans – With the right strategy, artists can use mobile phones to engage fans in their music, the issues they care about, and fans’ own local communities. We’ll present findings from a year-long research project on effective artist apps, drawing on case studies where we tested assumptions and figured out what works. Designed to help artists and managers think through their own apps, the session will provide guidelines for thinking through goals, tech specifications, and implementation.

Finding Superfans – A small number of vocal, dedicated, fans can positively influence the career of an artists more than thousands of casual listeners. How can artists cultivate intense dedication from their fans? Topics discussed will include the two way street of communicating via social media and fan rewards.

Accepted Super Fans as a Marketing Force Amplifier – You’ve got a free, engaged, and mobile workforce at your finger tips, so what are you waiting for? This panel will remind musician’s that affinity is a greater motivator than money, and provide several examples of how artists can be empowering their Super Fans to help generate more revenue and source new fans.

Other generally music cool ideas

AcceptedWomen in the Recording Studio – Meet the women behind the mixing boards on some of today’s biggest hits! Grammy winners and music industry veterans will talk about their experiences in the studio, dispense valuable advice about working with engineers and producers, and share tips for making it as a successful recording artist.

Fair Use Cage Match – Copyright practitioners and professors square off over what qualifies as a fair use of copyright protected works. The panelists will analyze uses across mediums and platforms to flesh out parameters for the fair use analysis. There will be, without a doubt, a healthy debate as reasonable minds can disagree. Attendees will leave with an understanding of the current state of the law regarding fair use, and a better perspective over the complex issues related to fair use.

And a few Film panels

iPhone and Place-based Filmmaking: Geocoding to Augmented Reality It’s easy to incorporate your iPhone’s location technologies and geo-apps into your film making and distribution process…if somebody shows you how. From basic geo-coding to augmented reality layars [sic], place makes media more personal, interactive, connected, relevant, and fun. This workshop explores the intersection of place, film making, and emerging technologies.

Cheap shots! Cinematography for DSLRs and the iPhone – Once upon a time, if you wanted to make a film, you had to use…film. Then came MiniDV, pro HD, and digital cinema. All had the the goal of creating that elusive “film look.” And now, you can suddenly create amazing-looking footage with hybrid DSLR cameras, HD cameras that use still lenses, and yes, even the camera on your new Android or iPhone.

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