Saturday, March 09, 2013

SXSW report, Friday: Connections

I'm attending SXSW Interactive on a last-minute transfer ticket, so I'm coming in with a little different aim. I'm looking at panels that further my jobs at the Statesman and as an adjunct at the University of Texas, but I also want to see some things that have nothing to do with either.

Friday was all about connections. I actually only caught partials of two panels, but it was meeting other people where the day paid off. I started the day at RefreshAustin's meetup at BD Riley's at lunch time, and ran into two interesting folks:

Peter Martinez is the founder of, but it was really three other interests that had us in intense conversation. As one of the leaders of RefreshMiami, they run a meetup that regularly draws 300 attendees. Like RefreshAustin, they try to be a hub for other tech groups in town, and now with a Knight grant they are really trying to extend that mission. Peter also taught a course on data visualization at the University of Miami, which of course I'm very interested in as I'm teaching a similar course at the University of Texas. But the most interesting connect was with TheLaunchPad, a entrepreneur group that helps college students take their ideas to the market. I figured Robert Quigley would want to talk to them in relation to his Mobile New App Design course he is teaching at UT.

Jorge Gonzalez is a freelance motion designer that does video explanations, much like what I want to teach my students in my data visualization class. We had a great discussion on taking story ideas and finding concepts to help develop them into video explainers.

Past that, I caught the Q&A for Bre Pettis's talk on MakerBot, and started the "Future of Crisis Communications" panel, but left to try and catch the Poynter eye-track study. Bad move, as it was full.

Met and talked with one of the guys who helped make ProPublica's Fracking Song video explainer, which is my favorite video explainer ever, so it was a meet-the-rock-star moment, even though he was "second-rapper."

Also spotted Bruce Sterling in the convention center. He typically has the closing remarks for the festival, but I haven't gotten that far in the schedule yet.


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