Charleston Open Source Scouts SXSW Interactive

Each March, the South X Southwest (SXSW) 13-day Music, Film and Interactive Festival attracts 80,000 of the world’s leading creative professionals to Austin for a series of conferences, trade shows, job fairs and special events.  The Interactive segment is now the largest, and most celebrated, venue for showcasing the latest tech innovations (Twitter in 2007 and Foursquare in 2009 were launched at SXSW).

I attended SXSW this year with Charleston allies Stan Gray and Harriott Parker of DIG SOUTH, Buff Ross of AllOneWordDesign, and Lee Deas and Will Bullock of Obviouslee Marketing to scout the event, learn about the latest developments, promote Charleston’s emerging tech sector, and support Charleston Open Source, our collaborative talent recruitment initiative.

A few highlights from this year’s event:

  • POTUS took the stage: President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to attend SXSW, engaging in a conversation on civic engagement in the digital age with Texas Tribune’s Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith. In addition to urging the tech community to partner with government to help solve society’s toughest problems, the President talked tacos (his talk was delayed by an unscheduled visit to Austin-favorite Torchy’s) and joked about the #ThanksObama meme.
  • Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality was all the rage: SXSWi dedicated a full track of VR/AR programming and demos, from NASA’s partnership with Microsoft to create a cutting-edge simulation of Mars to a virtual reality journalism partnership between Google and the New York Times. And we learned it’s impossible to look cool while wearing VR goggles.
  • Big keynotes: In addition to the Obamas (the First Lady provided a Music festival keynote, also), other impressive thinkers included filmmaker Ken Burns and historian Henry Louis Gates of PBS fame, J.J. Abrams of Star Trek and Star Wars, entrepreneur guru Gary Vaynerchuk  (returning to DIG SOUTH 2016), Charleston food fan Anthony Bourdain, and NYT bestselling author and TED Talk sensation Dr. Brene Brown, founder of COURAGEworks.

Obama 3 Bourdain IMG_1550

While our crew spread out and attended as many of the keynotes, panels, demos, late night parties, and taco trucks as possible, we also promoted Charleston Open Source with a guerrilla marketing campaign and digital “Lucky Dog’ sweepstakes, giving SXSW attendees a chance to win a trip to Charleston for DIG SOUTH Interactive and experience the Charleston tech sector up close and personal. Congratulations to our lucky winner Heather Wilde with ROCeteer, who will be visiting us for the 2016 DIG SOUTH; thanks to our sponsors: DIG SOUTH, Hyatt Hotels, Southwest Air, and Wildsam Guides.

Stayed tuned for more Charleston tech news as DIG SOUTH is right around the corner, April 26-28.

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