SXSW Interactive 2011 - Austin, TX

SXSW Interactive 2011 - Austin, TX (Photo credit: kk+)

By Shannon Delaney

Getting the chance to attend SXSW for free is almost unimaginable, right?  This may be true for most, but Cindy Royal’s Advanced Online Media graduate class has gotten the opportunity to attend SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) for free.

For the past five years, Royal has taken hands-on learning to a whole new level, as students have been able to cover SXSWi for the class blog,  For those who don’t know, SXSWi is an amazing learning and networking opportunity, as it unites journalism, technology and social media professionals at the top of their various fields.  People come to Austin from all over the world to present on panels, and registrants get to choose from over 5,000 panels and events covering topics from data visualization in journalism to sports media.  There is literally something for everyone.  Interested in fashion?  Music?  Film?  There are panels and events for you.

The 19th SXSWi will be held March 9-13 in and around the convention center in downtown Austin.  Not only is the festival an opportunity to see cutting edge presentations, but there are also various events showcasing the latest in new media, journalism and tech, as well as hands-on trainings and networking parties.  These Texas State students get to experience these events alongside these professionals. Each student in Royal’s class will attend SXSWi for two days.  During their time at the festival, students will post blogs about each panel they attend, video interviews with panelists and attendees, photos of various events and so much more.  The goal is to capture the essence and breadth of SXSWi.

This project requires quite a bit of prep work.  Students have been conducting previews of panels for several months in preparation for the event.  Previews allow readers more insight into a panel, including short interviews with the panelists themselves.  In completing my previews for the blog, I have interviewed some interesting professionals in the world of sports media, fashion and journalism, including talking with The New York Times Interactive Editor Aron Pilhofer.  Additionally, the blog also gives weekly news updates of companies who will be at SXSWi and top five panels from various SXSWi tracks, including sports, gaming and non-profits.

Speaking of Aron Pilhofer, he will be at Texas State University-San Marcos on Thursday, March 8, where he will conduct a workshop with graduate students during the day. That evening, Pilhofer will speak about the state of data journalism from 6:30-8 p.m. in Old Main, room 232.  This event is open to all students.  For more information, visit the Advanced Online Media website.

The following day, the craziness really begins, as the Advanced Online Media students will begin covering the full SXSWi experience.  Stay tuned to the class blog throughout SXSWi for updated Interactive coverage, including panel posts, video interviews and photos.

While most events require a pass to attend, the festival includes a few free events, including Screenburn, a video game arcade at the Palmer Events Center.  For a list of all free interactive events, please click here.

Shannon Delaney is a graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Judy Oskam at the Texas State University Round Rock Campus. She has taken classes at both Texas State campuses and will graduate in May.