Hot Ticket: The SXSW Interactive Festival

We may be in love with art here at ArtAttack, but our crush on the internet is an open secret. For the last few years, our eyes have started roaming westward in late February, in anticipation of the SXSW Interactive Festival, March 11-15, which starts about a week before the disheveled rockers start infesting the bar at the Four Seasons. Back in the day, the coveted badge was for the live music events, but lately Interactive is looking like the hotter ticket.

Just like the music fest before it, Interactive is growing fast, with auxiliary events like the new Technology Summit following the week of panel sessions, and the HoustonSXSW meetup, which in its third year is blossoming into a significant presence for our local folk traveling to Austin.

So herewith, a handful of key to-dos for SXSW Interactive:

Last Things First: The closing keynote by cyberpunk godfather, fiction writer and Wired Magazine critic Bruce Sterling is a must-see, for his longevity and breadth of experience, and his Texas ties.

Pitch Your Plan: Check out the SXSW Accelerator business plan pitch competition, sort of a tech-entrepreneurs's death match that will take place before a panel of tech-celebrity judges, including The Whuffie Factor author Tara Hunt, and a live audience.

Browse & Lounge: In any good conference, much of the action is outside the sessions, in the lounges that sponsors (the good ones, anyway), fill with refreshments and swag for beleageured conference-goers. Our pick for the lounge to visit this year is the one hosted by deviantART, for reasons that should perhaps be obvious.

Talking the Talk: And then there are the panel sessions--and there are dozens, possibly hundreds of them, on everything from the most tech-centric of details, to time management, to community development. You'll want to race around madly from one to the next, trying to find the startup guy, gal or blogger dispatching the hottest tips about the future of the Internet.

Yep, for us the real rock stars in Austin are the tech folks.

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