This lead me to the second rule of SXSW: Find the interersting *speakers* rather than choosing based on the panel descriptions. I missed out on some of the most talked about sessions because I didn't know who was "good."
This year I'm trying to present at SXSW along with Jessica Kirkwood of Hands On Network and Wendy Harman of Red Cross on our experiences of using social platforms to get people to help make a real difference in the lives of others. But, we need your help. You see, SXSW is a democracy... and the panels that get picked are the ones that are "thumbs up'd" the most. So, I'll need you to vote for our panel here.
After the jump is a full listing of the speakers that I'd like to see at SXSW - I hope you'll cast you vote for these also... and I hope we'll see you there.
- Nataki Clarke of AARP "From Woodstock to Facebook: Connecting with Baby Boomers Online" - Nataki's one of my partners in crime at the office. She's a fashionista who's worked for everyone from Estee Lauder to AOL to AARP. She knows her way around generations online and she's going to share it all with you.
- Brian Dresher of USATODAY.com on "How Brands Form Partnerships: Headscratchers & Natural Fits" - I first saw Brian at SXSW last year where he talked about how USA Today was training their editors and journalists on Twitter. He's been an inspiration as I've built our training program - and is one helluva great guy to boot.
- Jesse Thomas of JESS3 on "Foursquare 101" - I've followed @JESS3 on Twitter and love the social advice. I'm constantly trying to figure out how to build member-driven point of purchase benefits through geolocation, while respecting privacy and the learning curve. I'm betting Jesse will have some good advice.
- Annie Lynsen of Small Act on "Tiny Strategies: Social Media in 60 Minutes or Less" - I get this question a lot. How much time should I be spending on social? Annie's a great person to answer that question. She's a killer strategist that I work with on social and, in addition, she's a regular in the Piratz Tavern band. What's not SXSW-y about a pirate wench giving you tech communications advice?
- Amanda Eamich of USDA on "Apps for Healthy Kids: Goverment Challenges FTW" - Amanda and I bonded over our love for Twitter, farmers markets and all things at the convergence of locally sourced food and technology. She's been doing so much creative work - look for her to be one of the breakout stars of Government 2.0.
- Andy Carvin of NPR on "Putting the Public Back in Public Media" - Here's another one of my social senseis. Andy has always been gracious about sharing his learnings and advice, even though he never knew me from Adam (beyond Twitter and the odd conference). He's got a great grasp on the future and is always innovating on the media's role.
- Brian Reich of little m media, always provacative, proposes "Help! A Giant Meteor is Heading Our Way!" - Brian's great at asking non-profits the tough questions and challenging them to think bigger than a Facebook app. He's also got two adorble kids, Henry and Lucy.
- Katy Esquivel on "Latinas in Technology: Brains, Beauty and Blogging" - I'll fess up, I only know Kety through Twitter, but she knows her way around technology and has been instrumental in bringing together Latina bloggers across platforms to connect and share through LATISM (Latinas in Social Media). She also works for my old firm, Ogilvy, so I've got nostalgic love.
- Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? on "Let's Get Naked: Benefits of Publicness v. Privacy" - I once walked into a staff meeting and insisted we start a book group and that everyone on our team read Jeff's book and ask themselves before their decisionmaking, what would Google do in this situation? Hopefully, none of them suggested Wave. But, Jeff's a provactive and engaging speaker, as you can tell from his panel topic.
- Heather Blanchard of CrisisCommons on "Have You Saved the World Today?" - Heather and I first met for brunch and a visit to a psychic in Georgetown. Despite our goofy first meeting circumstances (H, we should get together and compare to see if the psychic has been right so far?), Heather is bad ass in the world of using technology to make a differnece in a crisis. Whether it's working 24-7 with developers and aid workers on the ground to live map people trapped in buidlings following the Haiti Earthquake or preparing for the next crisis, you want Heather on your team.
- Steve Mandzik of A Clean Life on "Education Through Digital Art" - I'm used to hearing Steve talk about saving the planet, eating local and composting. Can't wait to hear his take on his other passion, digital art.
- Amy Senger of 1x57 on "Living Content: Rewriting the Past, Shaping the Future" - Amy's a cool chick here in DC and I like hanging with her at Oscar parties and happy hours. During SXSW, I'd like to hear her take on how Wikipedia, Facebook and the like might influence history by documenting current events in real time.
- Mark Horvath of InvisiblePeople.tv on "A Conversation About Social Change Through Social Media" - Mark's got his own inspiring story, but he spends his days documenting the face of homelessness in our country. Through social media, he's broadening minds, opening hearts and helping people.
Seriously, SXSW was one of the most transformative experiences, personakly and professionally, in the last year for me. It was so inspiring to think big and meet interesting people for an entire week. I encourage you to go if you or your organization can scrape together the funds.
So, have you been? Are you going? What panels or panelists stand out to you? Who do I need to discover this year? Talk to me.