TBT: Jordon Brown
Throwback Thursday – To commemorate the 10th year of SXTXState, each Thursday we’ll be featuring past participants in the project. Check back each Thursday until SXSW to find out what SXTXState alumni remember from their time with the project and what they are up to now.
Jordon Brown is another prime example of success from the SXTXState project. As a graduate student at Texas State, he ran the video for the website, and was also a content editor the following year. This year, he’ll again be attending the conference with the graduate students, except this time he’ll be joining in as a lecturer. After his experience on the project, Brown was asked to stay on as a faculty member for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Digital Media program.
Answer: I’m a lecturer for the Digital Media Innovation major at Texas State. Mainly I teach FDOM and web design. I’m also a PhD student in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas Austin.
Question: Do you have any stand out memories from SXSW?
Answer: Every year at SXSW provides some great memories, but I have two standout moments from my time going, a serious one and a silly one. First, the serious, I got to see Edward Snowden speak via video chat one year and it really rekindled my passion for politics. He was so optimistic and inspiring, even though he’s hiding out in Russia. It was a really powerful and moving experience to be a part of. It really solidified that I want to teach digital and political communications.
My much less professional memory came when I met Megan Amram, a writer for Parks and Rec, one of my favorite shows on TV (it was still on at the time). I had been following her on Twitter for years and absolutely adored her. I asked a question during her panel and someone gave me a pass to get into an after party. At the party, I ended up in a small circle with Megan and she told me stories about the show and we chatted about SXSW and other things. It was amazing to get to have such a personal conversation with one of my heroes.
Question: What was your biggest takeaway from being part of the project?
Answer: The SXTXState class is the best part of the entire Master’s program at Texas State because it gives you an incredible opportunity to experience the tech world. You get to see incredible speakers and have these amazing moments of interaction. It’s a lot of hard work, but totally worth it.
Question: What were your responsibilities during your time with the project?
Answer: The first year I was a student correspondent, just like you, and also ran the video for the website. My second year, I was an editor with the project, where I mainly focused on cleaning up content before it went live. Since then, I’ve gone as a member of the Texas State digital faculty.
Question: Is there anything you’d like to say about Cindy Royal’s mentorship and leadership of the project?
Answer: Cindy is an amazing mentor and leader. She really pushes students. Even before SXSW started, we had dozens of stories up on the website, with panel previews and news and other projects. Even though it was a lot of work, it was incredibly rewarding. It was nice to be able to look back at all the work we had done and there was something to be really proud of. And there’s no way we would’ve gotten that done without Cindy’s guidance. On top of that, her connections are phenomenal. We get to meet with the director of SXSW every year, and he seems genuinely interested in our opinions. That incredible access is something that Cindy makes possible.
Question: Are there any tips for a first-time interactive attendee like myself?
Answer: Plan. Plan. Plan. Always know where you’re going to go next, and have a backup just in case that doesn’t work out. But, don’t stay with your schedule so strictly that you miss out on opportunities. I’m sure at the opening kickoff, Hugh Forrest will talk about the serendipity of the conference, and that’s something I really believe in. I always have a well-thought-out plan, but am ready to adapt if some great opportunity comes rolling my way.
Also, stay hydrated and wear comfortable shoes. And if you’re going to leave the convention center for any panel, it better be a good one.
Question: If you could have done anything differently, what would it be?
Answer: I try really hard every year to experience the most that I can out of the conference, so I have very few regrets. I think there have been some missed opportunities for me to network because I’m not very good at it. The great thing about SXSW is networking is fairly easy. Everyone is a tech nerd there, so it’s really comfortable to start up a conversation. People have such similar interests, it’s natural that you’ll connect with people that you’re sitting next to or waiting in line with. And there are a lot of lines to wait in. Even with the ease of networking at SXSW, it’s something I still struggle with and try to be better at.
Question: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Answer: Have fun, and try to keep up!
Question: What would you like to see more of at SXSW?
Answer: And the answer is that I want more interaction online with attendees. Every year there are fewer and fewer people live-tweeting panels with me, and that bums me out. Show me the tweets!