South by Southwest

South by Southwest

Updated Mar 12, 2014 at 06:44PM EDT by Don.

Added Mar 10, 2014 at 04:47PM EDT by Don.

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Overview

South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual spring festival and conference held in Austin, Texas with separate film, interactive and music portions. Since its inception in 1987, SXSW has continued to grow in size, most notably in the SXSW Interactive digital-media portion of the event.

Background

In March 1987, The Austin Chronicle staffers Roland Swenson, Louis Black, Nick Barbaro and booking agent Louis Meyers organized a regional music festival in Austin, Texas named “South by Southwest,” named by Black after the 1959 spy thriller film North by Northwest. Throughout the 1990s the festival continued to expand, adding a portion for film and multimedia in 1994. In 1999, the multimedia part of the event was renamed “SXSW Interactive.”[1]

Notable Developments

Early 2000s

In 2000, singer-songwriter John Mayer was signed to his first record label following his performance at that year’s SXSW Music festival. In 2002, the independent film Manito and the documentary film Spellbound took home that year’s SXSW Film jury awards. In 2004, British singer James Blunt subsequently signed his first record deal after performing a show at the SXSW Music festival.

2005

In 2005, the SXSW Film festival featured several low-budget films with naturalistic dialogue, leading sound editor Eric Masunaga to coin the term “mumblecore” for the film genre.[2]

2006

In 2006, a video games component titled “Screenburn” was added to the SXSW Interactive portion of the event. Also in 2006, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark spoke at SXSW Interactive keynote panel.



2007

In 2007, the microblogging and social media platform Twitter coordinated with SXSW to install flat panel screens in the hallways of the main venue, allowing conference goers to text tweets about various panels they were attending. Twitter’s participation at the event is often cited as the pivotal moment for the platform’s success, with tweets per day increasing from 20,000 to 60,000 during that year’s SXSW Interactive.

2008

In 2008, a comedy component was added to the event. The same year, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a keynote interview with journalist Sarah Lacy (shown below).



2009

In 2009, SXSW Interactive drew larger attendees than normal, which subsequently caused connectivity issues for people using iPhone apps on the cell carrier AT&T’s 3G network.[4] That same year, the location-based social networking mobile application Foursquare was launched at the event.

2010

In 2010, SXSW Interactive saw a 40% increase in attendees, which surpassed the music portion of the event for the first time. The keynote speaker that year was Twitter CEO Evan Williams, who was interviewed by author Umair Haque.



2011

In 2011, 4chan and Canvas founder Christopher Poole gave a keynote presentation during SXSW Interactive on the benefits of anonymity on the Internet (shown below). That year, attendees for the Interactive portion of the event increased to over 20,000 people.[5]



2012

In 2012, several mobile applications premiered at the event, including a version of Instagram for the Android operating system and several location-based social apps. That year, Napster co-founders Shawn Parker and Shawn Fanning gave a joint keynote presentation in which they discussed copyright enforcement in the context of Internet media (shown below).



2013

In 2013, the video game components were renamed “SXSW Gaming” and “SXSW Gaming Expo.” Additionally, the Internet-famous snowshoe cat Grumpy Cat was among the attendees and was hosted by the tech news blog Mashable. That year’s keynote presentation was delivered by CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors Elon Musk (shown below).



2014

In 2014, a television component of the event titled “SXSW Film: Episodic” was added. During the Interactive portion, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden spoke via teleconference from Russia to a live audience at the conference. Snowden announced that he did not regret leaking the NSA documents and that he believed Internet users need to educate themselves on how to protect their online security (shown below).



Highlights

Parody Twitter Accounts

Many novelty Twitter accounts have been created that mock SXSW attendees, parties and the event itself. On March 9th, 2010, the @DrunkAtSXSW Twitter account was created, which posts tweets describing various inebriated adventures at SXSW.




On March 11th, 2011, the @SXSWhine Twitter feed began retweeting people who posted various complaints about their experience at SXSW.




On March 8th, 2012, the @SXSWFanFiction Twitter account was created, which posts short fictional stories about events that are likely to occur during the event.




On March 13th, the @SXSWDoucheBag feed began tweeting cringeworthy quotes overheard while attending SXSW Interactive, many of which are associated with the Social Media Douchebag media stereotype.




On February 13th, 2013, the @SXSWPartzzzzz Twitter feed was launched to tweet announcements for fake parties and concerts around Austin during SXSW.




On March 11th, 2014, the Internet news site The Daily Dot[6] published an article highlighting many of the humorous parody SXSW Twitter feeds.

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