SXSW: What it is and why it matters.

Since 1987, South by Southwest (SXSW) has been the gathering place for all things film, music, and interactive. The festival has grown in size every year, understandably due to the rising interest of technology and the media. Held in Austin, Texas, SXSW has given start-ups, musicians, artists, and filmmakers a giant stage to display their work on.

SXSW has been the starting place for many: Singer-songwriter John Mayer’s performance in 2000 led him to sign with his first record-label, the early buzz of Twitter began at SXSW, the movie The Hurt Locker premiered there in 2009 – which went on to win best picture at the Academy Awards in 2010, as well as the starting place of rising actor and filmmaker Lena Dunham, where her independent film Tiny Furniture, broke out in 2010.

As the 2016 SXSW event wraps up this weekend, there has been a great amount of happenings worth mentioning.  HBO screened their documentary, Beware the Slenderman, about an all too familiar story of two 12-year-old Waukesha girls who stabbed their friend to impress the fictional character. Virtual Reality took center stage, as multitudes of headsets put festivalgoers into fantasy worlds. President Obama’s keynote talked about privacy and national security implications from Apple’s battle against the FBI over device encryption. Autonomous vehicles and the future in urban transportation have been a huge topic of conversation as well. And that is just the start; search SXSW 2016 on your own to find out other exciting news.

                                                       

Why does it matter?

The films being presented are narrative, independent, and creative. They give a glimpse into today’s society that you won’t see in the movies at the big screen.

The music ranges from performances from next-generation hip-hop artists, experimental electronic musicians, country singer-songwriters, little known jazz artists, just to name a few. Who knows, your new favorite musician may be hidden on this list.

But overall, SXSW has become the premier conference on digital technology and the media, and all those tech-savvy people are there to hit it big. It has become the place to promote the next best mobile app, website, and tech device. It is the place where big dreams become realities. The speakers are pushing boundaries and changing the way we think. We have come a long way in the past 20 years in technology, and there is no turning back.