The Nerdpocalypse is Coming Back to Austin

  • March 9, 2019
  • Scott
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SXSW, aka “the Nerdpocalypse”, is coming back to Austin this week.  It’s a fascinating conference that has morphed from “just a music festival” to a conference with an important role to play for film lovers and techies.

The increasing audience and reach of the conference was both caused by, and a critical element of, the rise in startup launches at SXSW, starting most famously with Twitter in 2007 and Foursquare in 2009.  The conference has exploded in attendance since then.

And if you build a big enough audience, you get two more changes.  First, media loves an audience, and if you manage to assemble an audience, media companies will show up en force.  In the last few years, SXSW has turned the corner with media company participation in the event, and media personalities participating in panel discussions.

The second change you get with a big audience, is increasing attention from politicians.  First we had a few senators and house representatives showing up. Then the Obamas.  And now we have T-squared: Texas Tribune and SXSW collaborating to run a track of political conversations with leading politicians.  It’s kind of an amazing turn of events. Who would have ever expected our hippie music festival would have turned into a political influencers dream? Appearing at SXSW allows a little tech conference and Austin pixie dust to rub off on the politician. It’s a chance to rub elbows with a cross section of the body politic that isn’t often together in one place.  And usually it is a chance to experience a bit of nice weather and good food.

More from the Texas Tribune:

We kick off on the morning of Saturday, March 9, when U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, will be interviewed by Kara Swisher, co-founder and editor-at-large of Recode. The rest of the day’s schedule: former Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, in conversation with Washington Post associate editor David Maraniss; U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, with Time contributor Anand Giridharadas; Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat who is mayor of South Bend, Indiana, with Ana Marie Cox, the host of the Crooked Media podcast “With Friends Like These”; and former Gov. Bill Weld, R-Massachusetts, with Wired contributing editor Garrett Graff.

On Sunday, March 10, our first conversation is with Democrat Julián Castro, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who will be interviewed by HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen. Also that day: former Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado, with BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith; and U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, with Politico senior writer Jake Sherman and senior Washington correspondent Anna Palmer. Additional conversations will be added to the Sunday lineup shortly.

It’s kind of amazing.  And the Tribune is a non-profit, you can donate to support their efforts to increase civic engagement!

 

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