With the biggest conference presence of the entire SXSW festival, SXSW Interactive is more than just a place where, as ace SXSW Interactive Press and Publicity coordinator Tammy Lynn Gilmore put it, “you get to meet all those people you follow on Twitter.” Unlike music and film, it's difficult to maintain an “I'm too cool” attitude when you're surrounded by a bunch of Web dorks.

According to Gilmore, the best thing about SXSWi is that “no matter what you do people want to learn more about how tech is infiltrating.” With SMS blast updates on events, RVIP shuttles and more parties than one can count, many attendees ascribe to the philosophy the best plan is no plan. Mistake #1 is to follow the common dictum, which Gilmore describes as, “Hey, the site everybody knows about is having a party” and missing out on the more intimate smaller events.

We're all flash mobbing Austin, Texas on March 13 – 17 in order discover the next big thing (case in point, a humble little site named Twitter won the 2007 SXSW Web Award in the blog category). When I asked Gilmore what she thought this year's Twitter would be she said, “You tell us.”

“It's about the community,” she explains, emphasizing the importance of this kind of feedback. “We're all about how can we improve for next year -so people keep coming and bringing their ideas.”

Last minute couch-crashing plans and the “not sleeping” your way to the top option aside, word on the street is that when it comes to SXSW, “it's such a whirlwind, there's no one way to do it.” Even the SWSW Web site warns “everything subject to change.” From salons to solo presentations to core conversations, people will be talking nonstop about inventing the future– as anyone who's ever accomplished anything knows, you have to start somewhere.

LAWeekly.com spent the weekend heeding the Boy Scout (and my dad's) motto “Be Prepared” in order to help you make your way through the sheer amount of activity. We've jumped ahead of the game and filled our slate card, pulling out key SXSWi events as well as unofficial fetes and get-togethers.

With that we bring you our “Exclusive SXSW Interactive Preview,” a by no means comprehensive list of what we're planning on attending as well as an iCal friendly calendar you can sync to, just to keep your options open.

You can check here for more details and updates. Highlights below:


2:00 PM User Generated Content: State of the Union

Kicking off our week with a weighty topic – can we ever really make money off YouTube and Flickr? Added bonus – we heard Topix CEO Chris Tolles gives good conference.

3:30 PM How to Rawk SXSW: The Basics

If you're new to SXSWi (like we are, hi) this looks like a useful way to get acclimated and make new friends.

5:00 – 6:00 PM 97 bottles Happy Hour

Beers and snacks at this unofficial happy hour are on the house – all you have to do is look out for the 97bottles team member at the conference and get yourself special 97bottles button beforehand. Show off your button upon entry and you can knock 'em back for free.


Apparently most of the morning stuff is hard to get to (wink, wink) – we suggest you make this, because as one commenter posted, “Yeah it's early, but that's kind of the point for breakfast.”

8:30 – 9:30 AM SXSW Social Breakfast 2009

Local food and great people. Start SXSW on a full stomach.

11:30 AM Change V2 Lawrence Lessig

#1 MUST SEE. Lawrence Lessig is a fantastic presenter and inspired a 19-year-old yours truly to be exactly where she is.

3:30 PM Building Entrepreneurial Communities Outside the Valley at Hilton E Continuing with our post-geographical society theme, Somewhat Frank founder Frank Gruber founder explains why L.A. and NYC also count (one word: content).

5:00 PM How L.A. Has Built A Successful Tech Community at Hilton E

Sloane Berrent and Mixergy's Andrew Warner represent LALA's tech scene. Notice how no other city has its own core conversation (Well played, Los Angeles).

6:30 PM – 2:00 AM The Bigg Digg Shindigg

Naturally the biggest unofficial party at SXSWi, you can't miss the second annual Bigg Digg Shindigg and live taping of Diggnation. Push your way past the fan boys and get yourself a piece of what everyone is looking forward to. No SXSW badge necessary.


3:30 – 4:00 PM Brian Solis Book Signing

We <3 Brian Solis and promise that you will, too. Here's your chance to ask him everything you've ever wanted to know about PR 2.0.

10:00 – 11:00 AM VC Secrets: Plan B for Fundraising

Come on Venture Capitalists, show us the money.

11:00 – 1:00 PM VC Pitching & Office Hours Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant

Because there's nothing like pitching to a VC when you're hung over.

2:00 PM Keynote Interview with Nate Silver at A

Obama-win predicting statistician Nate Silver talks about how to predict things, like where you're going to get your next Bloody Mary (or round of funding).

3:30 PM Marketing Meets New Media: Building Your Audience Online at 12AB Creative entrepreneur Natasha Wescoat (among others) teaches us how to get people to watch our movie or come to our art show via the Interwebs.

5:00 PM Video Blogging: Turning Wine Into Gold at A

Wine library guru Gary Vee spills the beans on video blogging and we're going for the wine party afterward.

7:00 PM Adobe 12th Annual SXSW Web Awards Ceremony

L.A.'s own nationally recognized wunderkind Mike Prasad and team are up for one for GirlGamer. You can either cross your fingers and hope he wins or make it happen by voting for him here.

9:30 PM – 1:30 AM Facebook friends.get Party 2009

The infamous Facebook party. Come on, how much do you want to post salubrious pics from the Facebook party on Facebook?

Monday (GIRL DAY)

Our SXSW Monday is going to be girl themed. Why? Because we say so.

11:30 AM Are Women Taken More Seriously on the Web?

The immediate need for this panel is evident in the NSFW comments people made on our FB after we RSVP'd to it.

2:00 – 3:00 PM Virginia Heffereman Keynote Interview

New media darling Virgina Heffereman writes “The Medium” for New York Times Magazine, and without her our Sundays would be seriously lacking. Watch her do her thing as she interviews artist and technologist James Powderly.

3:00 – 3:30 PM Stealing MySpace

Check out another one of our favorite females, journalist and author Julia Angwin.

3:30 PM Sex Lives of the Microfamous at 5A

You know how we women LOVE to gossip. XOXO.

5:00 PM Girl Gaming Goes Mainstream: Cliches, Reality, and Community at 12AB

Because some gamers are girls, why is that so hard for people to accept?

6:30 PM Digital Dating: Are the Internets Killing Your Game

A salon hosted by Digg.com muse Aubrey Sabala, this event is one to watch. If Facebook has ever ruined your relationship (and you know who you are) be there or be square.

4:00 – 6:00 PM Power Geek Girls at the Techset Blogger Lounge

InternetGeekGirl and Tech head turners Shira Lazar, Julia Allison, Tara Hunt, Deborah Schultz, and Stephanie Agresta bring together online female power players from all coasts as well as some other great viral guests. Drinks and snacks included as well as giveaways from Rickshaw Bags, JB Pro Sound Systems and V-Moda earphones.

8:00 PM SXSW Interactive/Film Fusion Party Hosted by Whrrl and Sun Microsystems at Red Eyed Fly

L.A. Geek Girl Heather Meeker planned this. L.A. Tech Girls Unite.

Alternate non-femme picks:

3:30 PM SEO for Startups at Hilton E

Yahoo's Tony Adam is a Los Angeles native son and just cool – stay tuned for his tips on how to optimize, for search engines that is.

3:30 PM Wired Antarctica: Bringing Science to the Web at B

A little global warming awareness break to take the tech edge off.


(BLOGGER DAY – because who isn't a blogger these days?)

11:30 AM UR Blog Sux and Print is Dead

3:30 – 4:30 PM Surviving Scandal: How to Manage Negative Attention in the Internet Age

See Facebook party pics – above.

5:00 – 6:00 PM From Blog to Book Deal How To

How to thrive in a world where Microsoft Word spell check doesn't recognize the word “blog.” Seriously.

7:00 PM SXSW Interactive Closing Party Hosted by Media Temple at La Zona Rosa

Mediatemple is another L.A. home-town hero. High five Scott DeSmet and collapse in a pool of your own exhaustion at this closing day soiree.

Whew! Hopefully we'll have enough energy to make it to the airport (you might have to drag us there in a wheelchair – which reminds me of more words of wisdom from Tammy Lynn Gilmore – “bring comfortable shoes”).

See you in Austin!

(You can follow us as we get dressed for Texas at @alexiatsotsis and @LAWeekly)

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