sxsw interactive

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Two panels, scheduled to be held during SXSW Interactive in March 2016, were canceled Monday on account of “numerous threats of on-site violence,” according to the press release sent out by the head of the conference, Hugh Forrest.

Tuesday 5:40 p.m. Following today's developments, SXSW's Hugh Forrest has released a new statement on its website under the headline "Safety Is A Top Priority And So Is Your Voice":

Terrence Henry/KUT News

There are a lot more options for getting around Austin these days other than driving your own car, and even more apps and technology to help you navigate those options. But some of the big investors in this new technology may surprise you. They aren't just coming from Silicon Valley — Detroit and others in the auto industry are getting in on the action as well.

Take the Austin-based RideScout, for example. "RideScout is essentially the Kayak of ground transportation," says Joseph Kopser, RideScout CEO. Kopser is a veteran who came to SXSW a few years back with an idea: What if you could take something like transportation and mobility, and make it as easy as booking a flight or hotel room?

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

With just two days left, SXSW Interactive is in its home stretch, ahead of the start of the fest's music portion on Wednesday and the inevitable second surge of festival-goers.

Interactive may be the calm before the storm that is SXSW Music, but it's always delivered on promises of drawing tech luminaries to Austin — highlights this year include keynotes from Lyft CEO Logan Green today and a Tuesday keynote from Dr. Astro Teller, head of Google X's "moonshot" initiatives.

KUT spoke with festival director Hugh Forrest about what's new to Interactive and why he thinks, after years of consistent growth, the crowds may have finally plateaued.

South by Southwest continues today in Austin, Tex., following yesterday’s tragic hit and run that left two people dead and 23 injured — and left many wondering if the festival that draws tens of thousands of visitors from around the world has become too big and unruly.

As the festival continues to expand, cities and countries have been sending representatives to tout their homegrown musical artists — and do a little self-promotion — with the goal of attracting new business.

The interactive section of South by Southwest (SXSW) wraps up today, and for the first time it included three days of panels and discussions specifically focused on the integration of Latinos in tech.

The sessions were designed to make Latinos feel more comfortable in a field where they are underrepresented.

We hear a report from Veronica Zaragovia of KUT that for some Latinos, the results were less than satisfying.

The task of building your very own toy, or robot, or radio can seem daunting for someone without much background in engineering. But a set of color-coded electronic bits that can be magnetically snapped together called littleBits is aiming to make creating your own electronics easy for everyone. It's like Legos, if only Legos could be connected into circuits that light up, move or make music.

"Circuits in seconds," promises the outside of the box.

Watch live as WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange speaks via satellite video at SXSW Interactive. Livestream is courtesy the Texas Tribune.

Yogi Berra's famous quote – "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" – has never really applied to Austin's South by Southwest festival.

Yes, there are crowds galore. But people keep coming: in 2012, the number of registrants increased by 15 percent over the previous year.

But now an Austin-based ad agency has developed an app for locals who might be looking to avoid the SXSW masses. It lets you know where people aren’t.

South by Southwest Interactive is the technology-driven part of the annual Austin-based festival for digital, film and music and it starts on Friday. An expected 30,000 people will take part in the interactive and film week that precedes music, and they love it for the spontaneity and the chaos. They also hate it because of the chaos — parties on every corner, marketing handouts at every turn and a sprawling program of panels, screenings and speakers that span at least a dozen city blocks in the heart of Texas.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Another South by Southwest has come and gone – and in its wake comes the inevitable cry from some local natives: “Don’t move here.”

Pulling up the drawbridge on SXSW visitors isn’t anything new: back in 1997, one local band minted t-shirts telling folks they could go back home when the music’s over. But as SXSW Interactive continues its explosive growth – with a 25 percent surge this year and over 30,000 attendees – it attracts a different set of attendees than music-loving spring breakers. And some of those attendees may not be going back.

Roman Mars, the host and producer of 99% Invisible, is a superhero in the field of contemporary podcasting. That’s according to his co-panelists at a South by Southwest Interactive panelAnswer Me This host Helen Zaltzman, and Bullseye host and producer Jesse Thorn.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

South by Southwest Interactive powered down last night, although not before a blowout closing party at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q and the SXSW Interactive Awards.

The 16th Annual Interactive Awards held at the Hilton Austin Downtown honored winners across 15 different categories. Emcee Aisha Tyler kept the jokes coming at a rapid clip, imploring honorees (with mixed success) to keep their acceptance speeches Tweet length. And bluegrass performers The Austin Steamers kicked the festivities off with a Texas twang.

As South by Southwest Interactive grows, so does the difficulty of trying to encapsulate the annual conference. And while onlookers can point to big themes in 2013 and much, much more, one burgeoning area with real world applications is civic apps and hacks.

Simply put, civic apps take publicly available data – anything from crime statistics to restaurant inspection scores – and mashes them up with applications like maps, making them accessible to the smartphone set. The biggest example is Code for America, a national non-profit that works with cities to develop meaningful data applications.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

If you’ve ever attended South by Southwest, then you know: Invitations to private events come fast and furious, and it’s hard to keep on top of them.

That’s where RSVPster comes in. It charges customers 30 to 40 bucks to respond to invitations to unofficial events during the SXSW Interactive and Music conferences. Though it’s the company’s third festival, founder Jennifer Sinski says it’s gotten its fair share of criticism since the service started.

Everywhere you walk in downtown Austin, Texas, new names compete for the attention of the tens of thousands wandering the SXSW Interactive festival. Which of this year's emerging ideas and brands — MakerBot, Leap Motion, Geomagic — will break into mainstream consciousness? Here's a quick rundown of the conversation topics in coffee lines, and some notes on appearances and panels that caught our attention:

Beyond The Keyboard And Mouse

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

SXSW Gaming Expo kicked off today, with thousands of people filling the Palmer Events Center. From computer tech to board games, the expo has companies from all over country unveiling their new demos.

"The Gaming Expo is a great opportunity for people who had been reading about games or had seen them online, to actually come in and try them out," says Nintendo of America's Kit Ellis. Nintendo is premiering more than 10 video games.

Remember some of those catchy old commercial jingles: "plop, plop fizz, fizz".... or "you deserve a break today?' Well, a fragmented mass media audience and ever-evolving technologies may be making those a thing of the past.

Bob Garfield is an advertising critic, author, consultant, and co-host of NPR's "On the Media" (quick plug: you can hear it Sunday mornings at 9:00 on KUT 90.5). He says companies have to trade in the old rules of reaching the mass market with the a new set of rules that mimic the way people treat each other. 

Health Issues on Stage at SXSW

Mar 8, 2013
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Austin artists, musicians and filmmakers and entrepreneurs are among the people who could benefit most from the federal Affordable Care Act.

The intersection of health care and technology is trending this year at South By Southwest Interactive.

For KUT News, Cathy Byrd talks to Gabriel Shepherd, the president of Las Vegas-based Don’t Sweat the Technique, and Sara Worthy, Tendenci Community Manager with Schipul in Houston. Both SXSWi presenters suggest that self-care is the place to start.

Click the player to hear the interview.

NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham/Emmett Given

Last year, South by Southwest had approximately 60,000 registrants. And close to half of them – nearly 25,000 – came for SXSW Interactive.

In 2013, SXSW Interactive is still growing – but by five to seven percent, instead of the 15-20 percent leaps seen over the last few years. “That’s probably a good thing,” says SXSW Interactive Director Hugh Forrest. He says continued but manageable growth means “a little more bandwidth to manage some of the rough edges of the event and hopefully improve the usability.” Or in the words of CNN: “SXSW may have peaked –and that's not a bad thing.”

courtesy NASA

First it was a music festival, then a film festival, then an interactive festival. Since then, South by Southwest has added education, the environment and venture capital to its repertoire. Could SXSW Space be far off?