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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



SXSW Interactive: 'Tomorrow Happens Here'
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Brenda Schumacher

This article shared 2790 times since Wed Apr 7, 2010
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"Tomorrow Happens Here"—the slogan to this year's SXSW interactive, film and music festivals—was not hyperbole. Attending the workshops, films, concerts and parties, one had the distinct feeling of being right at the heart of something very important, and bursting with possibility. Even the conference badges seemed like they were right out of, well, tomorrow. Swipe your badge across a smart phone, and you neatly swap contact info—no need for old-fashioned paper business cards. Chart your movement, avoid your ex, find the best parties and panels with free location software; follow Twitter to decide if you should ditch your boring panel for something better. Gowalla, Foursquare, Google, Mashable, Digg and dozens of tech giants and juniors were on site launching new products, throwing extravagant parties and working hard to out-geek each other to become the next trending topic. New and free technology was flying around so fast, your freshly uploaded SXSW iPhone app was practically outdated by the end of the conference.

For the first time, paid Interactive attendance surpassed that of the music festival, long the grand dame of SXSW. Interactive grew 40 percent over last year to 13,000 paid attendees, and has become a must-attend event for tech industry leaders, geeks, nerds, bloggers, academics, social media mavens and edgy marketing professionals. And for good reason—many a start up was made or broken by its reception at SXSW. As well worn legend has it, when Twitter launched at the 2007 festival, its usage quadrupled in one week, embolding Twitter to go out and conquer the world.

While Gowalla and Foursquare battled for the location-wear mantel, Youtube launched a new service for independent musicians, Microsoft announced explorer 9, Digg unveiled a site redesign, Twitter launched a new service for media Web sites and Spotify worked hard to position itself as the future and savior of the music industry.

Dozens of Chicagoans joined the annual geek pilgrimage, including Trish Bendix, editor of LOGO/MTV's, who forged some new territory of her own. After looking at the queer-free festival offerings, Bendix proposed and hosted a panel entitled "Engaging the Queer Community"—the first-ever LGBT dedicated programming at SXSW.

Bendix assembled an all-star cast of panelists including Chicagoan Fausto Fernos, founder and editor of the award winning Feast of Fun blog; Sinclair Sexsmith of Sugarbutch Chronicals, a personal blog by a "Chivalrous kinky writer, queer butch top, feminist sex educator in New York City," and Bil Browning, contributor for the Bilerico Project, an independent political news blog noted for its prestigious roster of queer writers.

With little time and much enthusiasm, panelists attempted to cover a broad range of topics. Sexsmith explored privacy issues, writing about sex in public space, and creating safety for a diverse audience; Browning stressed the power of the Internet as tool of activism, education and advocacy, and cited the very successful Bilerico boycott of RockStar energy drink. Fernos discussed the groundbreaking work done by queer bloggers, and pointed out that many of the blogs, podcasts, video blogs that dominate the industry are gay-themed.

Bendix was pleased with the first panel, but recognized it was "just the beginning of a big conversation." She added, "there are so many issue regarding being queer and creating for the Web." Bendix is already planning for 2011 and hopes too see "multiple queer-themed SXSW panels so every facet of interactive media can be discussed."

Fernos followed on the panel's success with the festival's first queer tweet-up, drawing a couple hundred festival attendees eager to share their Foursquare coordinates and make plans for an even more queer SXSW 2011.

This article shared 2790 times since Wed Apr 7, 2010
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