From March 9-13, downtown Austin was taken over by tens of thousands of visitors to the world famous SXSW Interactive Festival. Kitty Leering, PICNIC's Program Director, was one of them.

Event Report: PICNIC at SXSW Interactive...

 For three years in a row, members of the SXSW organizing team visited the PICNIC Festival. Now it was time for PICNIC to join this great happening in Austin, Texas!

And what a great happening it turned out to be: more than 1500 sessions, 45 official parties (not counting the unofficial ones), 15 event locations plus 43 special and evening venues spread out across the city, 20 sponsored lounges, just a little under 2500 speakers, approximately 2000 volunteers, 100 staff and around 275 trade show exhbitors (to share a few statistics). To manage such a huge amount of activities, the organization of SXSW uses crowdsourcing: everyone who is interested can submit a proposal for a session and the public votes on their favorites. The sessions with the highest scores are included in the official programming. A great way to leverage the wisdom of the crowds. Although the quality of the sessions varied, the method does generate a good overview of the SXSW audience’s interest areas. They made the choice, after all.

So what the SXSW Interactive crowd interested in? In short: everything that features the word social in it (social innovation, social networks, social responsibility) or touches society at large (education, health, government, serious gaming, culture, science). In addition to that, topics like online content, new business, emerging technologies and design, were well represented. But mostly, it is the laid back atmosphere and the incredible networking with old and new friends that make SXSW a truly amazing experience. This will certainly not be our last visit to SXSW!

- Kitty Leering, PICNIC's Program Director

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