SXSW Interactive Report

Matthew Sacks
03/27/2009 04:05 pm

The South by Southwest Interactive conference purports to showcase the best minds and brightest personalities in emerging technology. The Interactive portion of this year's event took place from March 12-16 in Austin, Texas. The entire SXSW festival is composed of Interactive, Film, and Music conferences and turns the city of Austin into one large media fest.

The conference was a medley of different events, activities and stimulations related around the technology industry. The Interactive event focuses more on the business and social side of technology more than engineering focused technology, and offers a different viewpoint on the technology industry.

Although there was some fare for the more software-development and engineering-focused audience, this was not in the quantity that a more technical user might prefer. Google's Steve Souders, discussed Web performance. Steve, who wrote the book on High Performance Web Sites published by O’Reilly, also gave a preview from his upcoming book on front-end engineering and web performance, Even Faster Web Sites.

Other notable talks included the Mozilla Foundation's discussion on browser compatibility, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's talk about Not being Evil, and Babcock and Jenkins's discussion on iPhone Development for web developers.
What sets SXSW apart from other events are the interactive activities, which provide an engaging experience and make the event own up to its title. The BizSpark Accelerator, sponsored by Microsoft, Moontoast, and Rackspace was an interactive forum in which entrepreneurs showcased their Internet startup businesses to a panel made up of venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki and journalist Brad King.

The web awards showcased some popular web sites covering topics such as activism, art, and functionality, highlighting some of the best ideas on the web.

If you are into “Internet celebrity” sightings, partying, networking, and spending time with the “popular” kids on the Internet, which Ben Huh, CEO of Icanhascheezburger relegates to being popular like Steve Urkel, then SXSW is for you. At the very least, it is a fun event that offers some new insights into technology from a business and social perspective. SXSW is where the Internet meets in physical form, interacts, networks, and has fun all at the same time.

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