SXSW’13 Provides Bigger and Busier Offering … and Free Food!

Posted on Apr 1, 2013 in Blog, community, experience design

This most recent SXSW proved to be an exciting week, with energy and optimism that was palpable on every street corner. The Interactive Weekend really kicked off with the annual frogdesign opening party, which was touted as a social experiment of sorts.


Many major tech brands—such as Google, Blackberry, and Mashable—set up camp and lured visitors with exciting new products and services. Smaller social media startups offered grilled cheese sandwiches in exchange for proof of using their app (or evidence that you’ve at least downloaded it). These and other major brands also sponsored lunches, happy hours, and evening parties, the latter of which included free music and booze for badge holders and RSVPers.


For non-badge holders, there were plenty of unofficial SXSW things to see and do, such as public art installations, secret music shows, and speaker events that included a Pecha Kucha hosted with Pentagram’s parking lot as the venue. Speakers offered musically themed design talks, two of which included integration of a baby grand piano.

With many of the featured sessions posted online, people could catch whatever they missed (and visuals were often provided via Slideshare). This benefit even applied to badge-holders, who didn’t always get to see what they came for due to schedule conflicts and “sold out” auditoriums.

Central to the week’s showcase of technology, innovations, and ideas are the following questions. Are you excited about the new possibilities? How do you see them playing out in your everyday life as well as in emerging economies? How will we create more meaningful interactions among people and between people and intelligent connected devices? How will we improve our cities?

Gensler's Design ATX

Gensler teamed up with Mass Relevance, Rand, and Stratus to ask, ”What would a redesigned Austin look like? Subsequent tweets were projected on a large screen installed on a facade of the W Hotel.

One session particularly relevant to us in wayfinding and EGD was delivered by fd2s alum Leslie Wolke and Jake Barton, founder and principal of Local Projects. They walked through a case study entitled “Change By Us,” an open-source application with its first project up and running for New York City. Another talk, which was previewed for us during  XLab in November, was Carina Ngai’s “Design for Aging“, in which she offered a methodology to “move us beyond usability and into a process of innovation.” Just how that process unfolds will be interesting to observe.

What other sessions did you find particularly relevant? Inspiring? Thought-provoking?

This post was first published on the fd2s blog