The GeekDads Guide to SXSW 2014: 10 Must-see Events at the Nation’s Largest Interactive Festival

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SXSW Interactive will be in Austin, TX 6 March – 12 March
SXSW Interactive will be in Austin, TX 6 March – 12 March

Later this week, I’ll be knee-deep in SXSW, one of the geekiest professional events in the world. While a lot of people think of it a film and music conference, the Interactive side has grown over the years to dominate the other events.

Over on the WebVisiosn site, I’ve already posted a list of 20 things to do, or DIE, at SXSW, which is a list of survival tips if you are new to the conference.

For GeekDad, though, I wanted to highlight the standout sessions, panels, and events at this year’s SXSW. I can’t tell you every session or event you should go to—there are just too many—but I can recommend ten events that will pique the curiosity of the geek at heart.

NOTE: I’ll be one of hundreds of speakers presenting to tens of thousands of attendees at SXSW Interactive 2014. My own session will be about new techniques in designing user experiences Sunday at 3:30PM in Ballroom A. Let me know if you’ll be there.

? 1
Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey

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Friday, March 7
10:00PM – 10:43PM
Paramount Theatre
713 Congress Ave

Why geek dads should go: See the most highly anticipated science show of the last 30 years before anyone else.
 
How to get in: Film Badge, Gold Badge, Platinum Badge, Film Festival Wristband

The Lowdown: A special screening of (I presume) the first episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos  series that will premier on the Fox Network, 9 March. Written by Carl Sagan’s collaborators on the legendary original series, Ann Druyan and Steve Soter, this will be the highlight of SXSW for me.

? 2
SXSW Geek Stage by ComiXology

Friday, March 7
1:00PM – 9:00PM

Palmer Events Center
Exhibit Hall 1
900 Barton Springs Rd

Why geek dads should go: It’s a place to hang-out and commune with your kind.

How to get in: Free and open to the public

The Lowdown: This is an all day, stop-by and recharge, event staged by ComiXology to present the hottest names in video games, comics, movies, TV, tech and more exclusively. Apparently, there will be some big announcements from the SXSW Gaming Expo as well.

? 3
A Conversation with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Saturday, March 8
2:00PM – 3:00PM

Austin Convention Center
Exhibit Hall 5
500 E Cesar Chavez St

 
Why geek dads should goa chance to ask NdGT any question you want in person.
 
How to get in: Interactive Badge, Gold Badge, Platinum Badge

The Lowdown: A Follow up to the premiere, this will be your best chance to ask NdGT about the project and learn about the future of Cosmos.

? 4
Live From Space

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Saturday, March 8
11:00AM – 12:00PM

Omni Downtown
Capital Ballroom
700 San Jacinto

 
Why geek dads should go: How often do you get to phone people not on this planet?
 
Hot to get in: Interactive Badge, Gold Badge, Platinum Badge

The Lowdown: If you could talk to an astronaut in space, what would you ask? During this session, you’ll be connected live with astronauts flying 240 miles above the Earth at 17,500 mph in the International Space Station. Talk with space, and ask about the science work they’re conducting on station and using technology to communicate with us down here on the ground.

? 5
I F-ing Love Science Channel! Party

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Saturday, March 8
7:30PM – ???

Stubb’s
801 Red River St

Why geek dads should go: Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Bill Nye the Science Guy will be there.

How to get in: Film Badge, Interactive Badge, Gold Badge, Platinum Badge

The Lowdown: Enjoy a variety show featuring Mythbusters‘ Kari Byron & Tory Belleci, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Elise Andrew of I F*cking Love Science, comedian Eugene Mirman and more special guests.

? 6
Equipping and inspiring the next generation

Sunday, March 9
11:00AM – 12:00PM

Austin Convention Center
Exhibit Hall 5
500 E Cesar Chavez St
 
Why geek dads should go: Dean is an inventor worth listening to.
 
How to get in: Interactive Badge, Gold Badge, Platinum Badge

The Lowdown: Dean Kamen is the inventor of  the Auto Syringe, Segway, revolutionary wheelchairs, assistive medical devices and the “Luke” robotic arm. He is on a mission to help end world poverty with pioneering devices capable of producing sustainable energy and purified water anywhere in the world. Come and hear his plans for FIRST® (For Recognition and Inspiration of Science and Technology) and work with the IEEE.

? 7
The Maker Age: Enlightened Views on Science & Art

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Monday, March 10
2:00PM – 3:00PM

Austin Convention Center
Exhibit Hall 5
500 E Cesar Chavez St

Why geek dads should go: Adam Savage speaks!

How to get in: Interactive Badge, Gold Badge, Platinum Badge

The Lowdown: Adam Savage as  explores the ties between art and science, dispelling these cultural myths, revisiting the Age of Enlightenment and highlighting luminaries like Leonardo da Vinci, a master of self-expression in the fields of both art and science. He’ll discuss how society may benefit from returning to the clarity that art can be just as rigorous as science, and that science can be just as creative as art.

? 8
Geek Out for Good: Apps that Change the World

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Monday, March 10
3:30PM – 4:30PM

Austin Convention Center
Room 9ABC
500 E Cesar Chavez St

Why geek dads should go: Talk to others geeks creating apps for a better world.

How to get in: Interactive Badge, Gold Badge, Platinum Badge

The Lowdown: A panel that brings together representatives of grassroots technology organizations (Digital Democracy) and major platform providers (GitHub, NationBuilder and Change.org) to share stories, ideas and resources that any software provider can use to serve diverse communities in an effective and positive way.

? 9
Code Monkey Save World: A Kickstarter Case Study

Tuesday, March 11
11:00AM – 12:00PM

Austin Convention Center
Room 18ABCD
500 E Cesar Chavez St

Why geek dads should go: JoCo will be in the house!

How to get in: Music Badge, Film Badge, Interactive Badge, Gold Badge, Platinum Badge, Artist Wristband

The Lowdown: Comics writer Greg Pak and musician Jonathan Coulton will discuss how they launched a Kickstarter for Code Monkey Save World, a graphic novel written by Pak, drawn by Takeshi Miyazawa, and based on Coulton’s songs.

 
? 10
Bruce Sterling Closing Remarks

Tuesday, March 11
5:00PM – 6:00PM
Venue TBA (Probably the Austin Convention Center)

Why geek dads should go: Bruce is one of the fathers of Cyberpunk.

How to get in: Interactive Badge, Gold Badge, Platinum Badge

The Lowdown: There’s a reason that Bruce has spoken at almost every SXSW: he’s both highly entertaining and highly enlightening. Even if you haven’t read any of his books, if you want a hopeful but pragmatic peek into our future, then he’s who you need to go see to find out what will be happening in 2014 and beyond.

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