SXSW

Photo courtesy of SXSW

Whether or not you have attended Austin’s South By Southwest, you’re probably familiar with the annual festival’s technology component. Also known as “spring break for geeks,” SXSW’s tech fest aims to bring together the brightest minds in technology through scores of networking events and an unbeatable line-up of the best new websites, video games, and start-ups. And the festival has not only energized Austin’s technology scene, it has also given the city a reputation as a genuine tech hub.

Techy hosts for techy guests

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Photo courtesy of SXSW

Hosting a tech festival is no easy task. It’s not just about getting people to attend, it’s also about engaging them enough so they stay.

After years of panel discussions and trade show models, the SXSW team has given the tech fest’s structure a makeover. They’ve replaced the festival’s hour-long panels with engaging 5- to 10-minute sessions that include clear takeaways. And the multitude of small interactive events has proven to be more engaging than one large, attention-grabbing spectacle.

But events don’t end when the crowd thins out—people are encouraged to head to SlideShare and other online resources to continue the discuss. Taking it a step farther, in 2014, Doritos gave attendees RFID bracelets that they could scan at various places and win prizes. Thus, thanks to South By Southwest, Austin not only invites technology from all over the world, it also offers it, as well.

Using technology to make content viral

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Photo courtesy of SXSW

A critical part of South By Southwest event planning is its content planning, and after years of wrestling with which content should be posted online and which should be exclusive to attendees, SXSW event planners have embraced the idea of giving away content and building the brand’s online visibility.

Now, everything you want to know about SXSW is available on Youtube and various other social networking sites. The SXSW channel itself has had over 94 million views and has publicized Austin’s tech potential to a wider audience, which proves content sharing has been a game changer in marketing tech events in Austin.

Social media exposure

When it comes to social media, one of South by Southwest’s biggest success stories has been Twitter. It’s appearance at SXSW helped make it part of the public’s consciousness, and it has inspired and motivated countless Austin techies.

In addition, a large number of social start-ups, such as Foursquare and Meerkat, have come out of SXSW. And while not every app is a Twitter, Austin app creators have certainly been coming up with fresh and interesting ideas.

Making room for privacy

Given the increased exposure to technology that South by Southwest has brought to Austin, the need for online privacy has come into focus. Along with the new privacy technologies showcased annually at SXSW, festival attendees themselves have also created products to help web users hide their activity from prying eyes.

Welcome to Gadgetville

In the past, SXSW’s tech fest was invariably seen as a much anticipated week of apps, websites, and tech ideas. But recent festivals have seen an uptick in the number of gadgets and robots.

Ever seen a drone that can knock you off your feet with a Taser-like stun gun? How about a virtual-reality headset that can take you into any scene from your favorite fantasy series? Well, SXSW attendees have!

From 3D printers that can make candy to wirelessly connected homes that learn your habits, Austinites continue to experience cutting-edge hardware merged with innovative software.

Wearable tech

Wearable tech has always been a highlight of SXSW tech week. And thanks to the large number of wearable technology showcased at SXSW, it’s now so common to see people walk around Austin wearing unusual tech gear that no one looks twice.

 

We hope this has given you a little more insight into tech week at SXSW and its influence on Austin. If you have an idea, a computer, and a passion for technology, then make sure to be Austin in March for the SXSW tech fest!