A Developer-Photographer’s Perspective on SXSW Interactive

As a software developer with a photography obsession, what better way is there to experience SXSW Interactive than to join the photography crew? That’s just what I did this year, and the amount of information I absorbed about emerging technology and pop culture during the 5 days of Interactive was mind boggling. Let me share a few technological and visual highlights with you:

#codingCEO Lew Cirne

Lew Cirne is the CEO of New Relic, a SaaS provider of analytics software that employs nearly 400 people. He gave a talk about how he was able to organize his executive team to allow him to take two weeks per quarter to sit in a cabin in Lake Tahoe and write software. He pulled excellent managerial talent from large organizations and empowered them to run the organization. Ultimately, Lew finds coding a great opportunity to stay fresh on emerging technology and get enough separation from the business side to see the forest for the trees.

Age Matters: Leverage It for Startup Success

A powerhouse panel of four very successful entrepreneurial souls spoke about the relatively recent conventional wisdom that technology is the domain of youth. The “Forty Successful People Under Forty” lists have become “Thirty Under Thirty,” with some joking that the next round with be “Five Under Five.” I stifled my high five jokes. One brought up a story of a venture capitalist who signed a startup with a guy who looked like Mark Zuckerberg, but apparently it didn’t work out so well.

The magic of this panel was that after about 15 minutes, it evolved into a conversation with a room full of brilliant people about the value of a diverse workforce. Many had examples of systemic bias in particular organizations and shared information about dealing with it or attempting to affect change. If you are in a room full of people that look like you and have similar life experiences, see about bringing in a fresh perspective. Insular communities do not thrive.

Pop Culture Showcases

Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers each had a full ad wrap on a the Red Line commuter train that runs to and from the Convention Center. Several other pop artists were also in attendance, of course. Mindy Kaling, Fred Armisen, and Lady Gaga were only a few others with panels that packed huge halls with attendees. While I don’t find pop stars nearly as exciting as, say, the Coding CEO panel, they put on well-lit and entertaining panels that the photographer in me really appreciated. I was very happy to get photos of Mindy Kaling, Seth Meyers, Olivia Munn, and several of their producers and costars under the bright stage lights and beautiful sets built by the SXSW crew.

It was a fun and exhausting week, and each night I slept like a brick. Now I get to explore technologies I only got to scratch the surface of during the show and put that knowledge to good work here at Eureka. And next year, I plan to do it all over again.