SXSW 2017: It’s Over?
SXSW 2017 was a whirlwind. From the moment I applied to the class, to the conference, to writing the post and all the tacos in between, I didn’t expect it to fly by so fast.
When I started at Texas State University in 2012, I was a Communication Design major and was set on graduating with my Bachelor of Fine Arts. After a few semesters in that program, my plan fell apart and I chose to completely change my major to Mass Communication. Like anyone who has changed their major you feel like you did not make the right choice and you will second guess yourself many times. It wasn’t until one of my first mass communication classes where I felt like I made the right choice. That class was my MC 1313, Writing for the Mass Media class in 2014 where we learned to properly write in a journalistic style. In that class, Jordon Brown came to speak to us and told us all about the SXTXState project. I had no idea about this project, let alone did I know it was something I would one day be able to do. From that day forward, I knew I needed to find my way into that class somehow. I applied to the Texas State University Digital Media Graduate program just for this class project, and here I am completing the SXTXState project three years after I found out about it.
People may see this project as only a week or two long during Spring Break, but it is really a semester long project and beyond. Our work started in December when we were assigned specific tracks so we could reach out to this year’s panelists. Along with our assigned tracks, we each had our own specific tasks within the project. My job was the webmaster. I worked with the SXTXState webmaster from 2016, Sara Shields, in developing new graphics, logos and a whole new website.
After our website is developed, we then had to start pushing out content! Each student was required to preview upcoming SXSW panelists. This was one of the hardest parts of the project because you are reaching out to strangers via email and social media and hopefully having them grant you an interview. Once all of the panelists have responded, then you have to edit the copy and videos that go along with the articles. In addition to panelist previews, we also take turns weekly posting news and top five lists. 2017 was a special year for the project as it was the 10th birthday of SXTXState! With the 10th anniversary on our minds we also reached out to past participants of the project for a new segment called Throwback Thursday and gained insight into their post graduate life and what they learned from the program. When we say this project is always evolving we mean it. The team is constantly innovating and finding new ways to showcase our brilliant work like using Evrybit this year!
I had been to SXSW many years in the past but only for the Music portion. By participating in this project, I was given the opportunity to finally attend the Interactive portion. Attending interactive panels weren’t as life changing as they were inspiring. Day 1 of SXSW, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Here you are given this magic ticket (badge) to let loose and go to any panel your heart desires. Who knew a paper badge would give you such power?
One of the best things about SXSW is the sheer amount of programming. You can plan for months but once you actually get to SXSW, your plans could change at the drop of a pin but fear not, there is always something going on. If you are burnt out from speakers and panels then you can take a walk around the convention center or around downtown and explore interactive exhibits, or you can walk down to the food trucks for a bite or you can head on down to a film preview as well. Whenever one of the panels I wanted to attend was full or no longer interesting to me, I would walk around the hotel or convention center and see what I wander into. One of the best things I wandered into was a food exhibition pop up that had free Franklins! Besides food and movies, one of the best things when I had downtime was to people watch. At SXSW you will encounter people from all walks of life and from around the globe.
SXSW gave me to opportunity to see panels from Cecile Richards from Planned Parenthood, Gina Rodriguez from Jane the Virgin, John Hanke from Niantic, Christina Tosi from Masterchef as a judge, Buzz Aldrin the former Astronaut, Yara Shahidi from Blackish and many more. Besides just seeing celebrities, I was able to hear from many visionary and inspiring women in tech! I’m not sure how it happened but the majority of my panels were around women finding their way within male dominated careers. From the Taco party to the Texas State Innovation Lab, there were so many networking opportunities in addition to interviewing panelists.
I couldn’t think of any other way I would rather spend my spring break than meeting professionals and listening to people in my field with my same interests. I could have been on a beach with my classmates, but I would rather take that break from school and use it as a learning experience. I am thankful to Cindy Royal and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication for giving me the opportunity to participate in this magnificent conference. My goal is to try and speak at SXSW in the coming years and hopefully be able to go year after year or be involved in some way. By being a part of this project, I feel inspired to keep creating and I feel empowered with my choice of education. I also wanted to say thank you and good job to the rest of the team. To put it simply, we kicked ass.
Being the visual person that I am, I took pictures all week long and couldn’t chose which few to post so here is 15 of them!