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7 Awesome SXSW Interactive Sessions by Bay Area Innovators

2013 SXSW Interactive keynote discussion with Elon Musk and Sean Mathis, via SXSW

SXSW, Austin’s massive tech, music, and film fest starts this Friday the 7th. Although you can find innovative panels, rocking shows, great parties, movie premiers, and comedy any day of the entire festival (check out our guide for Bay Area locals here), SXSW is technically broken up into three parts: Music, Film, and Interactive.

The music and film lineup is out of this world, but the Interactive session is what gets us nerds at 7x7 HQ extra excited. Added to the SXSW Music lineup in 1994, in the inaugural year there were only 36 total speakers scheduled for the Interactive program. Fast forward 21 years and Interactive has over 30K registered participants and a legacy as a platform for promoting tech innovation - like teaching us how to use CD-ROMs in 1996, making a case to switch to coding years in 5 digits in 2000, introducing Creative Commons licensing in 2002, facilitating FourSquare’s launch in 2009, and wowing participants with 3D printing in 2013.

Excited for what’s coming in 2014? (Yeah, us too!) Although there are hundreds of sessions, panels, and workshops scheduled this year, these are the exceptional local talent we don’t want to miss.

Make Yourself the Happiest Person on EarthSaturday, 3/8 at 12:30pm

Chade-Meng Tan first created “Search Inside Yourself” as a course for his fellow Google employees to enhance mindfulness, increase emotional intelligence, and assist in overall productivity. Although still a Googler and Bay Area resident, he’s now also a NY Times bestselling author with a passion for getting people off their smartphones and back to actually communicating. 

Structuring Community During Exponential GrowthSaturday, 3/8 at 12:30pm

Bringing together Bay Area based representatives from Airbnb and Instagram along with SoundCloud and Kickstarter, this panel is based on a problem many companies would love to have: how to manage exponential growth in your user base. Given how well all four companies have handled their booming success we think they’ll have a lot to teach about scaling an enthusiastic community. 

Create Your Own Wearable TechnologySaturday, 3/8 at 3:30pm

Wearable technology is a huge theme this year at SXSW Interactive. With so many panels talking about what’s on the market now and what to expect in the future, a workshop that covers basic circuitry and simple sewing seems like an awesome starter class. Plus it’s taught by Grace Kim, a San Francisco-based wearable technology designer and Cotap employee. 

Brands Driven by Artistic Communities, Sunday, 3/9 at 11am

Bringing together Bay Area native Bailey Richardson of Instagram and innovators from Spotify and 3-D printing company Shapeways, this panel will address how to create successful companies centered on artistic communities. The three varying perspectives on one overarching topic will definitely make for an exceptionally interesting, and hopefully heated, discussion. 

Form & Function: Designing Devices You Want to Wear, Monday, 3/10 at 11am

This panel pairs Bay Area wearable technology powerhouses from Jawbone, Pebble Technology, and Whistle to talk about designing products people actually want to wear. Given the huge surge in innovation and interest in wearable tech, we bet this will be a standing room-only session. 

Biz Stone in Conversation with Steven Johnson, Tuesday, 3/11 at 12:30pm

Twitter co-founder, INC Mag named “Entrepreneur of the Decade,” and social media genius Biz Stone’s new venture, Jelly, is a social picture-sharing tool with a charitable point of view. We’re excited to hear from the Marin resident about where he sees the social sharing landscape going, especially in regards to photos.

YogaDotCalm: Streamlining Productivity & Focus, Tuesday, 3/11 at 12:30pm

Bringing together yoga pros, Silicon Valley-based Femgineer founder, and fifth generation winemaker Karl Wente of Livermore’s Wente Vineyards might seem like an odd pairing. But reading these guys’ bios, it’s clear they’ve mastered the “work hard/play hard” lifestyle using yoga and meditation, and want to help others get there too.

Have a Bay Area-based panel you're excited to see too? Let us know in the comments!