With four to five or more events happening at one time, at all times, choosing which direction to take can be a daunting task at SXSW Interactive, the portion of the festival devoted to all thing internet. There are plenty of tools to choose from to keep track of what’s available — the main SXSW.com website, Plancast, Sched, and SitBy.us. If you’re the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type and want to follow the crowd, you can always check which panel your friends are at by logging into Foursquare or Gowalla, or do a Twitter search to see which panels are trending.
Personally, I prefer to go in with a basic idea of what I want to cover at a bare minimum, and that includes more than just panels. I want to have a list of some places I must eat at that I know will be nearby, which events and parties I need to attend and what times I need to be near the convention center to check out speakers and panels.
Here’s a good outline to get your started. I’ve got all day Friday planned out for you, follow along or choose your own adventure.
9am to 10am: AOL Seed Lounge
So called “content sweatshops” are a controversial topic right now. Is AOL Seed the enemy, their corporate Borg-like complex churning out an endless stream of articles dictated by algorithms that are supposed to know what generates clickthroughs? Or are they our friend, giving so many freelancers, who often are forced to write for free just to gain attention for paying gigs, actual consistent for-pay writing assignments. It would be worth your while to stop by and find out for yourself and come to your own conclusion.
11am to 12pm, Live performance at 6pm: The IFC Crossroads House
The Crossroads house has free breakfast, wifi and live performances, with a lineup of acts that include The Walkmen, Broken Social Scene, She and Him and Drive By Truckers. If you’re only here for the Interactive, and you’re more into music than BBQ, skip the Tweet House and get here at 6pm on Friday to check out a live set by The Black Angels.
I’m giving you my top two options here near the convention center for lunch. It’s up to you to decide if you can handle the rest of the afternoon after feasting on BBQ at Stubbs or if you would rather grab a great street taco that will hit the spot but not do you in for the rest of the day. I suggest going the Casa del Fuego route, order up one pork taco, one chicken taco, and a can of Dr. Pepper.
1:30pm: The Young and The Digital
Check out what should be an interesting panel discussing how social media is being driven and shaped by the under-30 set, how to leverage them as an audience, and what they deem as “authentic.”
2:00pm to 3:00pm: How To Rawk SXSW
A good bit of advice on how to balance parties, panels, and everything else. If you’re a newbie to SWSW, leave the Young and Digital early to head over.
2:00pm to 3:00pm: Upstarts! Young Entrepreneurs are Rocking the Business World
3:30pm – 4:30pm: Battledecks
A hysterical competition that mocks the “new new thing” groupthink that sometimes prevails at SXSW. Contestants compete against each other to come up with a narrative on the spot to a random set of ridiculous power-points.
5:00pm – 6:00pm: How To Run A Startup Without A Tech Co-Founder
A panel shows you how to “fake it until you make it.” We all have great ideas, but not all of us have the know-how to make it happen. Here’s a roadmap.
5:30pm – 7:30pm: Tailgate BBQ at the Tweet House
This is invite only, so click the link to RSVP.
Can’t get in? Some of the better parties and events on Friday night:
Tech Set Party (6pm) This kick-off parties is of the biggest at SXSWi.
Ustream Presents “Streaming in your City with Pete Wentz and Gym Class Heroes” (8pm) The former presents the latter in a live performance that will be streamed worldwide
Anthony De Rosa is the cofounder of Neighborhoodr.com. His personal tumblr soupsoup.tumblr.com is, according to Compete, in the top 25 of over 2.3 million tumblogs and among the top 200 blogs in the world listed on Technorati.
[Additional photo: SXSW Interactive Web Awards 2009 emcee Baratunde Thurston – Credit: Matty Greene]