TBT: Joshua Shepherd
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.
Joshua Shepherd graduated from Texas State University in 2011. I was able to speak to Shepherd on the phone recently, which is no easy feat given his incredibly busy schedule. For starters, Shepherd informed me he was about to get married. He has also been busy preparing for an upcoming event taking place at SXSW 2017. More to come on that later.
Shepherd was a member of the SXTXState project in 2011, and was tasked with being the editor for the blog that semester. He edited content but also helped other students come up with ideas for what they should write and contribute to the blog. He had attended SXSW previously, but mostly for music as he was working at a music television channel, and not the Interactive portion of the conference. Since the project, he has made it a point to attend Interactive almost every year.
After graduating, Shepherd bounced around the startup scene in Austin. During this time, he also got to work behind the scenes during SXSW one year. While working at Mass Relevance, he was apart of a team helping on the keynote speeches with the technology where people could ask questions via Twitter, which is now commonplace for SXSW and other conferences.
“I was there for Julian Assange. I got to see Shaq and rapper Nas speak from behind the scenes,” Shepherd recalled.
When I started to ask Shepherd about some of his favorite memories from the year he attended SXSW as part of SXTXState, he began to recall how it was experiences he had never expected to have in the first place that had stuck with him the most. He specifically remembered a panel that he did not even attend, but on a topic that he found fascinating and that still resonates with him to this day.
“The panel was about how cell phone use in Africa was being used to check grain prices in cities. So farmers could figure out where to take their crops to sell, and in which towns, based on the rates they were seeing via text messaging,” Shepherd shared. “This really highlighted to me the different ways people use technology in a way I had never really thought of before.”
I began probing Shepherd for advice for a first time Interactive attendee such as myself. His biggest takeaways included some simple but important advice: You get out what you put in.
“SXSW gives me energy and motivates me in my job and in projects I want to work on. The creativity and energy and people excited to be there and do what they do, I feed off that each year,” Shepherd told me excitedly.
One of those projects is something I alluded to earlier in this article. Shepherd has spent the last 5 years after graduate school working on a documentary called “Disgraced.” Shepherd is a producer of the documentary that will have its World Premier at SXSW 2017. The documentary has also been picked up by Showtime, and will air on that network March 31, 2017.
Shepherd left me with some sound advice that I think is applicable to more than just the SXSW Conference.
“There will be a lot of people there that want to talk, and that you are going to want to talk to. You’ll be surprised how open they are. People take down their walls and barriers at SXSW and it really creates an open dialogue. People are there to share and be apart of something bigger than themselves,” Shepherd shared.
You can learn more about “Disgraced” in the links below:
When and Where:
Sunday, March 12
Austin Convention Center – Vimeo Theater / 500 Ceasar Chavez
Find out more: Disgraced