Getting Weird in Austin: A Chicagoan’s Guide to SXSW

Dear reader, it breaks our heart to say goodbye to Chicago next week… because we’re headed to Austin, Texas, for the 2016 SXSW Interactive Festival! See what we did there? Wondering what we’ll cover, or heading down yourself and overwhelmed by the possibilities? Don’t worry – we got you. Below are the panels we’ve added to our list because they are sure to change your world.

And in case you need a break between events, check out lounges like the Comcast Social Media Lounge. A space to network, recharge and relax, the lounge is definitely gonna be our go-to spot to connect and caffeinate.

Can Incubators Make Universities Relevant Again?

With companies like Google saying college isn’t necessary, there have been doubts about the relevancy of higher education. Enter the academic incubator, a new model to evolve universities for a new way of learning. This expert panel will debate what makes a successful incubator and examine whether incubators can possibly save (or transform) higher education. Panelists include Jill Goebel, principal of Gensler, the design firm behind incubators like 1871, and Mike McGee, co-founder of The Starter League, an immersive school in Chicago that teaches novices how to build web applications. // Saturday, March 12, 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m., JW Marriott, 110 E Second St., Salon 7

Using Social Media to Predict Gun Violence

Considering the heartbreaking statistics, it’s hardly wrong to say gun violence is a national public health crisis. But what can be done when laws often prohibit comprehensive data collection on the issue? Non-traditional data sources – from online news to Twitter – may be the answer. Panelists including Jessyca Dudley, program officer of Chicago’s The Joyce Foundation, will demonstrate and discuss a brand-new, publicly accessible interactive platform that provides real-time data and forecasts on gun ownership and violence in searchable geographic areas. // Sunday, March 13, 5 p.m.-6 p.m., JW Marriott, 110 E Second St., Salon C

The Startup Struggle Is Real

Thinking of starting a business, but scared of the various pitfalls? This panel is for you. Three managing directors and a program graduate of Techstars, a mentorship-driven startup accelerator, will advise how to fix common mistakes to keep your startup from failing. Bonus: one speaker is Troy Henikoff, managing director of Techstars Chicago who teaches at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business and is on the board of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. // Saturday, March 12, 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m., Hilton Austin Downtown, 500 E Fourth St., Salon C

Mind Controlled Interfaces

Fantasies of mind control may not be too far off, especially seeing how we’ve already moved beyond the ol’ clicking and tapping: We can now take and share photos and control TV content with our minds. Hear from two experts from This Place, the digital design studio behind MindRDR, what these future interfaces might look like in order to create intuitive interactions based on brain activity. They’ll also discuss the challenges they’ve faced and successes already achieved. // Sunday, March 13, 5 p.m.-6 p.m., Austin Convention Center, 531 E Fourth St., Room 8ABC

Game On: The Role of Games and Play in the Workplace

Ever wonder about the trend toward fun work spaces with board games and table tennis? Matthew Dabney, who’s helped run events like New York Comic Con and Chicago Ideas Week and is an active member of the Chicago startup community, will talk about the role games play in creating a cohesive work environment, influencing company culture and fostering the creative potential of employees. // Tuesday, March 15, 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m., JW Marriott, 110 E Second St., Salon 7

Are you also leaving Chicago to spend some quality time at SXSW? Let’s keep in touch on Twitter!

Leave a Comment