SXSW 2014

Our panel picks for SXSW 2014 and how you can pick, too

Our panel picks for SXSW 2014 and how you can pick, too

panel audience at SXSW 2013 in Vimeo Theater
An audience listens to a panel in the Vimeo Theater during SXSW 2013. Hutton Supancic

While we still have an entire season of fall festivals, the holidays and winter to get through, the behemoth that is SXSW is set to return in the spring and bring with it an onslaught of panels on technology, film, music and education. One way the community can shape that conversation is by using the PanelPicker to vote on the panels hosted at SXSW 2014.

The PanelPicker allows anyone in the SXSW community to submit proposals for conference programming while others comment on and vote for which panel should make the cut. The list has already hit nearly 4,000 proposals, but we've combed through the list and turned up some promising panels that offer in-depth discussions on innovation and creativity. And others that just sound really cool.

SXSW Music

If you count yourself amongst the Deadheads of the world, then throw all of your support behind the proposed “Resurrecting Jerry Garcia” panel. The lead singer of the Grateful Dead (and inspiration for one of the best flavors of ice cream ever) helped lead his band to a fanatic cult status long before social media. Organizers of this panel want to help that musical legacy live on through the technology that Jerry didn’t have.

Or maybe you’re like any good Austinite and you want to learn the crossroads between food and music? “Indie Food is the New Indie Rock” explores how the DIY spirit of the new indie food and drink movement with its fanatical devotees, fanzines and blogs parallels that of the indie rock scene. Perhaps it is time that SXSW just goes ahead and adds SXSW Food. Maybe with some food samples, SXSW could get back in the good graces of the local grumps.

SXSW Interactive

Anyone who’s ever written for the Internet should consider “Is it Possible to Change Someone’s View Online?” panel. Though opinion-driven rhetoric fills the majority of Internet comment sections, when was the last time that opinion was changed after reading a post or article? Hosted by folks from Reddit, this panel with examine how the anonymity of the Internet has shaken the culture of discourse. Hopefully this conversation will stay nice and civil.


While this branch of SXSW doesn’t get the attention the rest of the conference does, the conversations that happen at SXSWedu are perhaps most important. Hosted in the days that are the calm before the storm of SXSW, this conference it could offer up some interesting lessons for 2014 and beyond.

STEM education has received a lot of attention recently, but the panel “The Liberal Arts Matter in the STEM World” wants to remind educators of the continuing importance of humanities education. The organizers and speakers are looking not set up liberal arts in opposition to fields such as science, engineering and business, but rather instead show how the humanities can help engage in effective critical thinking and communication.

At the very least, it will make you appreciate taking that rhetoric class back in freshman year.

Another panel examining the role of the humanities in the workplace and global market, "21st Century Language Learning; Interactive & Fun” wants to show that learning a foreign language should be about more than memorizing grammar rules.

By incorporating visual media and cultural texts, educators can help their students transform from a translator to a cultural ambassador. But the main reason this panel should get your vote is so more people can enjoy the educational and charismatic talks that panel host and UT professor Dr. Thomas Garza is famous for.

There are still thousands more prospective panels to comb through, and you have until September 6 to make you choices.

Oh, and just remember that you have less than 200 days left to properly prepare for the coming chaos.