Credit: AP

Just a brief look at the South By Southwest interactive schedule can boggle even the most experienced festival-goer’s mind. There are panels and conversations and films and workshops and even a daily 7:30 am run (in cowboy costume!) in case you weren’t getting enough exercise dancing your pants off at one of the many parties. But for everyone not going to the festival, which marks 19 years of interactive and film coverage this year, we have started to make sense of some already-emerging trends and news to look out for as the unofficial “spring break for nerds” kicks off in Austin, Texas.

3-D printing

By now you’ve probably seen the cool kids with their 3-D iPhone cases that have castles and whatnot printed on them and said, “ok, a plastic thing from a printer, what’s the big deal?” The big deal is that beyond the odd iPhone case, 3-D printing can literally make anything, from houses to guns to clothes. With no fewer than six sessions and workshops on 3-D advancements, we’re looking forward to getting a hands-on peek at what some DIY geniuses are creating with this new technology.

Social TV

No single second-screen app has really won over the market yet (Get Glue’s failed merger with Viggle left the TV check-in world high and dry last year), but clearly people are tweeting through shows and using social media more and more when they watch TV. So what’s next for interactive TV, including the type of television that gets made and how we experience it? Warner Bros. is hosting a pitch session called “Tell-a-Vision” where people can pitch digital series ideas to execs, and news personalities including Rachel Maddow and Al Gore will be on hand to talk about the media landscape. Fred Armisen is even getting in on the fun to talk about how nerdy shows are using tech to find an audience (ahem, Portlandia).


In 2009, checking in on location network Foursquare was the way to find out what was happening at SXSW. We’re betting that this year it’s Twitter’s new integrated video app, Vine, that will literally show us through user content what’s happening where. Six seconds of the best BBQ in Texas? Our mouths are watering already!

Wearable tech

Is Nike’s fuel band the Tiffany’s heart charm of 2013? Will we all be wearing Google glasses by this time next year? How is fashion responding to these new technologies? Several panels this year are focusing on making technology into a fashion accessory, from a session on how these devices are changing our senses to one on how the next generation of headphones will look. Even Nina Garcia is making her way to SXSW this year, so clearly the jeans-and-tee-shirt crowd in Austin will have to step it up in the fashion department.

Indie Games

The three-day SXSW Gaming Expo has grown massively in the past few years and this year it features panels from how to create your own game (and one on why that might be a bad idea) to exploring music in gaming and how to evolve as an indie game developer. The videogame crew has clearly found a niche at the Austin fest; this year the game expo also features some extra awesome geek stuff from big names like Marvel, Nintendo, and more.

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