sxsw

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Sure – Austin’s weird.

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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.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning, Austin! Ready for a sunny start to SXSW Music? The National Weather Service says Austin's due for a high near 77 today.  The evening will be clear with a low around 44.

Here's a roundup of some KUT News stories for today:

The Lead: Austin's Police Chief says he thinks South by Southwest has been a little calmer so far this year.

But APD Chief Art Acevedo acknowledges that things will probably start to heat up a bit as the music portion of the festival gets going. Acevedo plans to hit the streets over the next several days.

Technology has made it easier than ever to track your activity levels, your sleep cycles, how you spend your time, and more. The self-trackers who near-obsessively capture and analyze their own data are part of a growing "Quantified Self" movement.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

With badge pickup for the music portion of South by Southwest open, a changing of the guard is afoot.

While the crowds at Austin Convention Center are as thick as ever, spillover into the streets of downtown Austin is relatively quiet at this point.

“This year it seems a little bit calmer that last year, so far,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said.  “Music starts tomorrow, so we anticipate things to start heating up.”

The city of Branson, Missouri is home to under 11,000 permanent residents, but enjoys more than 7.5 million visitors a year. A new documentary premiering at SXSW Film this week takes a peek behind the rhinestone curtain to look at the lives of the performers when they’re not on stage. It’s called ‘We Always Lie to Strangers.’

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Starting with Richard Linklater's latest film "Before Midnight" screening Saturday, SXSW Film saw several Texans walk the red carpet.

Sunday saw the screening of "Mud," starring Texas actor Matthew McConaughey, along with "Tree of Life" actor Tye Sheridan and first-time actor Jacob Lofland. The feature from director Jeff Nichols tells the adventure of two boys who meet a fugitive in the middle of an island and try to help him reunite with his true love.

facebook.com/GettingBackToAbnormal

Hurricane Katrina changed more than just the landscape of New Orleans. After the disaster, thousands of people moved away from the city, most of them black and poor. In the years since, the city has slowly been rebuilt. But what has become of its culture?

KUT News reports on a new film premiering today at the South by Southwest film festival, “Getting Back to Abnormal,” that tries to answer that question.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

It's feeling like a spring break week in Austin with highs in the 60s and 70s. And, of course, South by Southwest is in full swing.

Lead Story: Tens of thousands of badge-toting visitors are in town for "South by." That may mean some traffic congestion. Check out this interactive map of road closures to help guide you through it.

South by Southwest Interactive and Film continue as preparations for the Music portion of the festival ramp up. Music starts tomorrow.

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.

YouTube, http://bit.ly/14GzVFN

Scott Stullen and Katie Hill, co-curators of the now legendary Internet Cat Video Festival of 2012 spoke to a room full of cat lovers at SXSW Interactive. Their session featured…adorable cat videos! The questions the project raised were inevitable: Why cats? and Is this art?

What made the event significant was not only that it was the first, but also that the event took place at the highly renowned Walker Art Center. The cat video festival was a new translation of the center’s formal experimental program. This particular experiment was a runaway success.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The 20th year of South by Southwest Film kicked off Friday night with "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone"

It was the world premiere of Don Scardino's movie, starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey in a tale about a world-famous duo of magicians in Las Vegas. The event also brought to Austin some well-known Hollywood actors and filled the Paramount with laughter.

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. 

flickr.com/redux

Parking woes, scammers, thievery and lost friends are all issues that can ruin a South by Southwest experience. The Austin Police Department, AAA Texas and Better Business Bureau of Central Texas are all offering tips on how to best avoid those pitfalls.

APD Commander Bill Manno says anytime there is a big event, parking can be a challenge. He said parking close to the festival has been labeled "event-parking" only—violators will be towed. He also said the Guadalupe neighborhood, which is the area between I-35 and the State Cemetery, will be closed to public parking this year.

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?

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Microsoft founder Bill Gates says tougher standards and more testing have not helped American students get a better ranking against their peers in other developed countries.

South by Southwest edu wrapped up today with a keynote from Bill Gates. In his remarks, Gates encouraged the hundreds in attendance to invest in technology as way to improve education in the U.S., while retaining educational fundamentals.

Every year, the South By Southwest music, film and interactive festival gets larger, and navigating the blur of panels, parties and shows gets more daunting. The girth of it all is enough to keep many SXSW old-timers away from Austin this year.

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