The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Interactive Announces First Wave

By Monica Riese, October 14, 2013, 1:07pm, SXSW

You knew this was coming.

South by Southwest may not officially hit town for another five months (now that Eco's done), but the emails have already started trickling in: Buy your pass! Book your hotel! And now, here comes the first wave of programming.

Today, SXSW Interactive announced the first 500 or so sessions for the Festival. Per usual, programming runs the gamut of tech and Web topics: gaming, health, startup culture, fandom, memes, and computing, just to name a few. Highlights are many, but here are a handful that caught our eye:

• Nine "feature sessions" are already on the books, including everything from "Generation Mash-Up: Y Bother?" from Mashable honcho Pete Cashmore to a conversational session with Assassin's Creed co-creator Jade Raymond about games' impact on the environment.

• Security and privacy, on everyone's minds and fingertips since the Edward Snowden leaks this summer, will receive their own track of programming, to be hosted at the Sheraton Hotel.

• Space-related programming, which launched to great success last year, returns, with folks from NASA talking everything from climate science to life on other planets (presumably in case we flub the climate science bits).

• Emoji get their day in the sun, as's Ben Zimmer discusses the death of language.

• The Texas Tribune will talk about their big win on the night of Wendy Davis' filibuster, as "Streaming Politics Beat TV" – by a long shot.

Chris Trew talks about "The Humor-Centered Design Process," and you should probably listen. Man knows a thing or two about laughs. But speaking of humor, xoJane's Jane Pratt is back this year, this time to talk about the humor gap online.

• Everything in the Intelligent Future track suggests our childhood dreams of a Jetsons reality may finally be on the horizon: Driverless Cars, Hardwiring the Brain, smart apps, gesture-controlled electronics, and more.

• "Hacking Meat: Why Insects Are the Future of Food." Whoa, what?

"We are very excited about today's announcement and all the amazing content scheduled for the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival," said Interactive Director Hugh Forrest in a press release. "From design to social good to privacy to non-profits to space exploration, these sessions represent the breadth of programming that SXSW Interactive offers the digital creative community."

You can read the full list over at the SXSW website. Another 300 or so panels will ultimately make their way to the calendar, so stay tuned for more if none of these (seriously?) strike your fancy.

You'll find all our SXSW coverage from Festivals past at

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