South by Southwest 2014 kicks off in Austin today. The music/film/technology festival has lost some of its cache over the past few years but those heading to the capitol of Texas this week will still get an upfront view of the latest in both culture and technology.
Here’s a quick peak at what we’re paying close attention to:
For South by Southwest Interactive, the big headline draw this year is a videoconference panel with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.It’s hard to say whether anything interesting and/or controversial will come out of the conversation, but I suspect many will tune in just in case.
It’s also being livestreamed to the public for free courtesy of The Texas Tribune, so you can follow along from home.
South by Southwest is also known as a springboard for new apps and/or social networks, including both Twitter and Foursquare. It’s unlikely a new social media titan will emerge this year, but many will try.
If I could pick a theme this year, though, it would definitely wearable technologies.
In fact, three of the eight finalists in the wearables category are from Canada, with Toronto-based Bionym demoing the Nymi — which identifies you based on your heartbeat — and Montreal-based Might Cast showing off their NEX Band — which lets users collect “Mod” charms, that connect you with people with similar interests nearby.
SXSW is also a film festival, and while it might not have the same draw as Sundance or TIFF, it still gets its fair share of cool. The Veronica Mars movie, famous for its record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, will be screened for the first time this weekend.
Also being screened is Jon Favreau’s Chef, Seth Rogen’s Neighbors and Leave the World Behind which is about Swedish House Mafia’s final tour (which some have compared to LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up and Play the Hits, screened at SXSW 2012).
Finally, we’ve been fans of the cronut for a while here at MediaMiser so we were understandably excited when creator Dominique Ansel announced he would be bringing his latest creation to SXSW: chocolate chip cookie milk shots.