News & Views

Contagious' SXSW Selections

by Contagious Team

At its best, downtown Austin during South by Southwest can be a serendipitous trip through the ideas and concepts you usually only find through a screen. At its worst, you’re trudging from packed ballroom to packed ballroom, frequently lost, and the dream of a fully-charged battery recedes in your memory like last night’s delicious tacos.

This year, with 14 official venues and hundreds of panels, presentations, sessions and events in downtown Austin it’s going to be more essential than ever to plan your time effectively to get the most out of SXSW Interactive. We cruised through the schedule to highlight some official sessions we’re looking forward to.

Don’t forget to come see us, as Contagious co-founder and editorial director Paul Kemp-Robertson and James Kirkham from Holler present Full of Tomorrow: Brands, Technology and Miracles on Saturday March 8 from 5-6pm at the Omni Downtown.

General first-timer guidelines?

The keynotes at 2pm are all always worth watching, but you don’t need to break your neck to get into the live room. A dark simulcast area is just as good.

Dropping in on a panel or presentation featuring a speaker you’ve never heard about or a technology you have no concept of can be a really fun way to break out of your comfort zone. Unless the speaker is the founder and CEO of a consulting company that is also named after themselves. That’s typically a red flag.

Conversely, only visiting stuff where startups and technology companies talk about advertising can result in the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.



Friday, March 7

12:30 PM
The BRCK - Designing from the Rest of the World, Austin Conv. Ctr., Room 9ABC
If you missed him at Most Contagious, come see how Erik Hersman’s connecting Africa

The New Digital Age, Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D
Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen give an update on Google’s political aims


3:30 PM
The Secret Sauce of Real Time Storytelling, Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB

The Internet of Cars, Wanderlust, Wanderlust

Monkeys with Lazers: How MailChimp Does AI, Austin Convention Center, Ballroom E
John Foreman is a brilliant guy leading data analysis at one of the world’s most important marketing companies  

Arena vs. Couch: The Battle of Game Day Experience, Driskill Ballroom, 604 Brazos St
Watching sports at home and in the stadium go head to head. What will the future of sports entertainment look like?


5:00 PM
The Future of Making, Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D
If Joi Ito and Tim Brown can keep the conversation level at ‘mere mortal’ this will be worth watching

Makers & Megabrands Meet Up, Meet Up Tent

Saturday, March 8

9:30 AM
A Virtual Conversation with Julian Assange, Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 5
Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald and Barton Gellman are all bringing intrigue to the festival this year, but we’re most interested in what The Barbarian Group’s Benjamin Palmer will ask the former

11:00 AM
The Next Evolution in Communication: What Will Happen, Hyatt Regancy, Ballroom 5-7


12:00 PM
Creating a History of the Future in 100 Objects, Austin Convention Center, Ballroom G
Friend of Contagious Adrian Hon (he of Zombies! Run! fame) writes the future

12:30 PM
Media & The Personal Brand - ESPN, Grantland & 538, Austin Conv. Ctr.,  Ballroom D
ESPN’s Bill Simmons and Nate Silver in conversation. Surely navel-gazing and circuitous but still very interesting

It’s Complicated: Teens Social Media Practices, Sheraton Austin Capitol ABCD
Microsoft’s Principal Researcher and social media scholar danah boyd on what the kids are up to online—like a dismissive approach to capitalisation

3:30 PM
Creative Coding: Art + Design with Cinder, Austin Convention Center, Ballroom BC
Perhaps the largest gathering of people who understand exactly what Cinder does

5:00 PM
Full of Tomorrow: Brands, Technology and Miracles, Omni Downtown, Longhorn
Don’t forget to go see Paul, and tell him we sent you (or we’ll be beaten)

Sunday, March 9

12:30 PM
Interview with The Goggles: Immersive Storytelling, Austin Conv. Ctr, Austin Suite
The Goggles, of Welcome to Pine Point fame, talk compelling digital experience

Injecting Computation Everywhere, Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 5
Stephen Wolfram is the exception to our eponymous speaker company rule

Tomorrow Is Another Day: Surviving A Social Media Crisis, Austin Conv. Ctr, EH 3/4
Will Chapin Clark, @rga, be as funny in person? Will a possible perceived lack of in-person entertainment value perpetuate a social media crisis? As the world turns...

3:30 PM
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Austin Conv. Ctr, Exhibit Hall 5
In 1994, Nas made Illmatic. In 1995, Ben Horowitz began as a product manager at Netscape. What They Connect Over In This Heartwarming Interview Will Shock You

Monday, March 10

10:30 AM
Status Update: Attention & Celebrity in Tech, Austin Convention Center, Ballroom G
Alice Marwick’s Status Update was a sleeper hit last year, dealing with fame and celebrity in the technology world through a thorough ethnographic lens. Come hear an excerpt.

12:30 PM
iWED: How to Marry Writing, Editing, & Design, Omni Downtown, Lone Star
Mario Garcia’s one of the grandmasters of publication design; a must for those interested in content, in a luxurious sense

3:30 PM
A Conversation with Glenn Greenwald, Austin Convention Center,  Exhibit Hall 5
SXSWi version of Spot the Fed reaches its apex

Infinite Future: Beyond Cyber & Hyper - Parts 1 & 2, Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon D
Lousy name, but listening to Warren Ellis and Daniel Suarez talk dystopias for a couple hours is a good way to readjust your brain for life

Tuesday, March 11

9:30 AM
Blizzards & Beer: How Weather Affects What We Buy, Radisson Town Lake Riverside Ballroom

11:00 AM
FEEDing the Future: The Power of Social Business, Austin Conv. Ctr Ballroom D
Lauren Bush Lauren is on the short end of the programming stick, with Chelsea Clinton keynoting the festival mere hours later and LBL stuck in Ballroom D. But both former First Daughters will have interesting stories of influencing change, or at least changing influence

From Human-Centered to Life-Centered Design, Omni Downtown Capital Ballroom

12:30 PM
Biz Stone in Conversation with Steven JohnsonAustin Conv. Ctr, Exhibit Hall 5
The Twitter co-founder charmingly spills the beans on his latest startup, Jelly

What’d we miss? Where the party at? Let everybody know in the comments.