High Tech Hijinks
The 2002 Sexiest Geek Alive Pageant Finals
Don't hate them because they're beautiful. Hate them because they're probably in the 20 percenters group and will make a whole lot more money as an info techie than you will making fun of their Star Wars T-shirts or wigging out over their stories that begin, "One time, at computer camp ..."
The "20 percenters" are those who use more of their brainpower than the average mortal, who typically uses only 8%. That extra brainpower is put to the test at the 2002 Sexiest Geek Alive Pageant finals at SXSW. The pageant is now in its third year, but this is the first time the finals have happened in Austin.
To get to the finals, contestants completed an online questionnaire covering topics in math and science, computers and programming, nerd culture and science fiction. If that weren't enough, an essay question completed the application. Nine finalists selected from online entries travel to Austin for the final pageant. Judges include Cyan Callihan, SGA online winner and pageant runner-up; Jamie Hall, the 2001 winner of the SGA Houston pageant and a pageant finalist; and Rob Langhoff of Quick Internet Services. Actress Chase Masterson, better known as Leeta from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, returns as this year's host.
The final pageant takes place at SXSW Interactive Tuesday, March 12, at 2pm on the Trade Show Day Stage at the Austin Convention Center. For more information, see www.sxsw.com or www.sexiestgeekalive.com.
THE IRON WEBMASTER SHOWDWON
Two teams, one pre-formatted URL, whirlwind play-by-play, and one large screen on which to watch it all happen. These are the ingredients of the first annual Iron Webmaster Showdown. Much like the quirky Japanese cooking show that brings world-class chefs to face off in the ultimate food fight, teams of competing Web designers are expected to whip up a dazzling Web site from a pre-formatted site that's high on text and graphics, but low on pizzazz. To make the challenge even more of a nail-biter, the competing teams must work their magic in 90 minutes, with a public audience and lots of commentary from the hosts. Content, design, usability, showmanship, and shameless sycophancy will determine which Web designer will reign supreme.
Leading Team Blue into battle is Alan Watts of16color.com, a do-it-yourself animation application that won a 2000 SXSW Web Award. James Craig leads Team Red, which has already thrown down the gauntlet by posting on Craig's weblog that he and his team would "rain on Watts like Ozzy did on the Alamo."
The inaugural Iron Webmaster Showdown takes place Sunday, March 10, at 3:30pm on the Interactive Trade Show Day Stage at the Austin Convention Center. Winners of the battle will be announced at the SXSW Web Awards ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel Sunday evening.
Admission to the Sexiest Geek Alive Pageant and the Iron Webmaster Showdown is free to SXSW Interactive badge holders. The general public can purchase a day pass to the trade show the day of the event ($15). Free day passes are available online at www.sxsw.com/executive_pass.