2018 SXSW Interactive Must-See Sessions from a Panel Nerd

Blaise Pascal once famously said, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” And if I had more time, I’d curate down my 2018 SXSW Interactive panel selections even more! But alas, here they are with some time slots wishing I had duplicates of myself to attend all of the sessions.

This is my 10th SXSW, second time advising, and fourth time speaking, and I love all aspects of the conference: discovering new ideas and sharing the great conversations I have with people I admire on a stage.

Below the green highlighted sessions are ones I’m looking forward to the most. Of course, I’ve included my panel, the Era of Camera-First Food, which will take place on Wednesday, March 14 at 11am at the JW Marriott, room Salon AB with fellow panelists include Lior Lev Sercarz from La Boîte (@la_boite), director and photographer Thomas Schauer (@tschauer), and Michael Friedl from Advantage Austria (@mfriedl_nyc). We’ll discuss the intersection of food and digital, and what brands need to know.

Last year I wrote the post First Time SXSW Tips from a SXSW Panel Nerd. This has some great tips on how to navigate the sessions that still hold true. There are a few tips I want to call out here too. First, take advantage of the SXXpress passes. And second, some of the bigger keynotes will be filmed. The smaller ones may be audio recorded but there’s no guarantee that you’ll have the chance to catch them later, so keep that in mind as you’re deciding what to go to – I’d recommend picking some of the smaller, hidden gems at SXSW that you’ll only get the change to see in person.

Did I miss anything that should be included? Let me know by adding it to the comments or tweeting to me at @helenstravels! If you’re in Austin, do say hi!

Have a great SXSW!

Friday, March 9

11:00 AM

Tristan Harris: How Do We Ethically Manipulate 2B Minds
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP97128
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM EFG
Tristan challenges tech to answer: How is tech helping humanity? Watch his TED talk if you haven’t seen it yet.

12:30  PM

Jake Tapper and Bernie Sanders
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP99980
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM D

Ezra Klein – Keynote
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP98617
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
ROOM 18ABCD

2:00 PM  

Esther Perel Keynote on Modern Love
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP97078
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM D
Relationship therapist Esther Perel is amazing! If you haven’t seen her talk at 92 & Y, do watch it.

3:30 PM

Letting Go:Designing For an AI You Can’t Control
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP72030
JW MARRIOTT
SALON E
AI AI AI. This panel includes speakers from Facebook, Singularity University, and more!

Why Ethereum Is Going to Change the World
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP97082
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM D
Blockchain visionary Joseph Lubin, founder of ConsenSys and co-founder of Ethereum, will be on stage.

What Can Developers do to Keep the Web Open?
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP99483
JW MARRIOTT
SALON 6    

5:00 PM

First Time to SXSW Meet Up with Sweet John
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78175
JW MARRIOTT
SALON 5
If this is your first time at SXSW, this meet up is for you!

Saturday, March 10

 9:30 AM

Increasing CTR with 1:1 Content Marketing
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP74449
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL B
Speakers are from Facebook, Coca-Cola, and more!

United-ish & Black-ish: W. Kamau Bell and Kenya Barris
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP97168
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM EFG

Hacking the Racial Bias in Artificial Intelligence
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP80834
JW MARRIOTT
SALON 3
A very important topic as we move more into AI!

11:00 AM 

How to Create at the Speed of Feed
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78052
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL
Andrew Keller, Facebook Creative Shop’s Global Creative Director, will be on stage.

Data Journalism: We’re All News Nerds Now
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP72948
JW MARRIOTT
SALON FG

More Data, More Problems: Transparency in 2018
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP74615
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL C

12:30 PM

What Followers Want: How Social Evolves in 2018
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78529
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL B
Speakers are from Facebook, Instagram, and more!

Authenticity and Media in 2018 with Lena Dunham
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP99758
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
ROOM 18ABCD

Back-end of the future: A/B testing
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP70470
JW MARRIOTT
SALON 6
Speakers are from Facebook, Pinterest, and more!

Alien Worlds: NASA’s Quest for Life
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP76837
FAIRMONT
MANCHESTER EFG
You had me at NASA and alien worlds!

Christiane Amanpour on Sex & Love Around the World
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP98614
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM D
Pro-Tip: To get a good seat for Ta-Nehisi Coates, listen to this first!

2:00 PM

Ta-Nehisi Coates Keynote
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP98597
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM D
Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most important writers of our time. This is a must-see session!

3:30 PM

Crafting Mobile Video on Facebook & Instagram
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP80401
FAIRMONT
IRIS ROOM
Both speakers are from Facebook. 

How Bots and Conversational UI are Killing Design
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78816
JW MARRIOTT
SALON E
Great line-up of speakers including Josh Williams (OG Gowalla founder) and speakers from Facebook, Slack, and Hipmunk.

Featured Session: Westworld Showrunners Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy with TBA Cast
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP99072
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM D
Pro-Tip: Just camp out in Ballroom D for the afternoon!

5:00 PM

The Secrets of Cult Brands
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP71977
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL B
Speakers are from Instagram, NFL, Glossier, and Spredfast.

Manufacturing Battleground: Intelligence is Next
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP79380
HILTON AUSTIN DOWNTOWN
SALON J

Binding Emotion & Memory: Science, Story & Scent
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP74393
FAIRMONT
MANCHESTER EFG
As we move more into virtual worlds, see how scent will play a role!

Brainy Surgery: VR, AI and Robots in the OR
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP75517
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
ROOM 9AB

Art Attack: Data as the New Creative Director
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP71818
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL C
A talk on the intersection of data and art – sounds really interesting!

6:00 PM

Trailblazers: A Special Podcast Taping with The Aspen Institute’s Walter Isaacson
https://sxsw.delltechnologies.com/trailblazers
THE SUNSET ROOM
310 E 3RD ST, AUSTIN, TX 78701
This is part of Dell’s SXSW programming and sounds like a great event. Sign-up for it separately through the link.

Sunday, March 11

11:00 AM

Reading Signals: The New Segmentation
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78965
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL A
Both speakers are from Facebook.

Facebook Live Broadcaster Meet Up
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP73444
JW MARRIOTT
ROOM 213

The New Arbiters of Taste
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP80871
Container Bar
90 Rainey Street

Prototyping the Future of Public Media
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP71420
JW MARRIOTT
SALON FG

12:30 PM

Unique Veteran Employment Strategies
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP70189
FAIRMONT
MANCHESTER A
Speakers are from Amazon, LinkedIn, Facebook, and NBC Universal.

Audience Engagement: The New Path to Greenlighting
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP72552
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
ROOM 13AB

Arnold Schwarzenegger Joins POLITICO’s Off Message
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP100005
HILTON AUSTIN DOWNTOWN
SALON H

2:00 PM

Melinda Gates Keynote
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP98929
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM D

3:30 PM

Facebook IQ: The 5 Consumer Shifts Shaping 2020
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78892
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL B
Both speakers are from Facebook.

How to tell a 6-sec story
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78273
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL C

Spike Lee – Episode 10 of She’s Gotta Have it
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP99520
VIMEO THEATER (500 Cesar Chavez, entrance at Cesar Chavez and Red River)
This sounds like a SXSW treat!

Emoticulture: How Data & Science Create Happiness
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP71869
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL A

Breaking Digital Facades: It’s Time to Take Tech Back
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP98621
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
ROOM 18ABCD
This is Brian Solis’s keynote on how to redeem our tech selves.

5:00 PM

Bob Gruters of Facebook
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP100120
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM EFG
Bob Gruters is the US Group Lead for Facebook’s Entertainment + Technology & Connectivity.

From Planet 9 to Space Poop: Crowdsourcing NASA R&D
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP80312
HILTON AUSTIN DOWNTOWN
SALON G

Discussing Today’s Evolving Data Policy
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP71022
HILTON AUSTIN DOWNTOWN
SALON F
Data policy is an incredibly important topic!

Monday, March 12

11:00 AM

Reality But Better: Augmenting the World with News
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP74775
JW MARRIOTT
SALON FG
Speakers are from The Washington Post, Google, and more!

Eddy Cue of Apple
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP99591
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM D

12:30 PM

Reddit: Life After (Near) Death
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP97083
HILTON AUSTIN DOWNTOWN
SALON H
Reddit’s Co-founder Steve Huffman will be on stage.

A Conversation with Ernest Cline (Ready Player One)
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP100006
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
ROOM 18ABCD
As a Ready Player One fan, CANNOT WAIT for this session!

Today’s Cyber Warfare Looks a lot Like Adv
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP77615
JW MARRIOTT
SALON FG

The Post 50/50 Workforce
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78112
FAIRMONT
MANCHESTER A
Speakers are from AirBnB, Obama Foundation, Instagram, and more!

Modern-Day Publisher Models
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78345
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL C

How NASA and LEGO Embrace Open Innovation
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP74927
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL B

2:00 PM

The Restaurant of the Future
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP70984
JW MARRIOTT
SALON AB
Speakers include MIT Media Lab and James Beard Foundation – sounds really interesting!

3:30 PM

Building the Post-Cable Television Network
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78104
JW MARRIOTT
SALON FG

Changing the World Through Food
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP98611
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM EFG
José Andrés and Andrew Zimmern take the stage to discuss food and social impact.

Don’t Judge a Book by its (under)Cover: Librarians at the CIA
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP72218
HILTON AUSTIN DOWNTOWN
SALON F
This sounds really interesting!

Prototyping the Future with Science Fiction
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP75351
HILTON AUSTIN DOWNTOWN
SALON G

A Game-Changing Shift in Control of Personal Data
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP74405
FAIRMONT
MANCHESTER EFG

More Than Numbers: Data Analysis for Storytellers
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP80020
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
ROOM 13AB

5:00 PM

Can AI Soothe the Savage Comment Section?
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP74775
JW MARRIOTT
SALON FG
Speakers are from The Washington Post and more.

Influencing Food Culture & Policy Through Film & TV
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP98785
JW MARRIOTT
SALON AB

Tuesday, March 13

9:30 AM

The Gifts of Faith: Cultivating Resilience
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP97109
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM EFG
Great line-up of speakers, including from the New York Times discussing faith – great to see this topic at SXSW!

Driving Audience: If You Build It, They Will Not Come
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP79250
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL B
Great line-up of speakers, including from The New York Times.

11:00 AM

There is no pipeline problem
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP99215
JW MARRIOTT
SALON 1-2
Speakers are from The New York Times, ProPublica, and more.

Escape the Algorithm: Build Rad Online Communities
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP70186
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL B

The Humanoid Future of Journalism
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP73498
JW MARRIOTT
SALON H

12:30 PM

Uniting to Fight the -ists, -ites, and the phone
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP69833
JW MARRIOTT
SALON FG
Speakers are from The New York Times and more.

The End of Content
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP99055
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM EFG
Speaker is founder and CEO of GIPHY, Alex Chung.

Fighting Terror with Tech
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP80799
LA CONDESA
Speakers are from Facebook, Department of Homeland Security, and more.

Earth v. Mars: The Future of Exploration
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP80412
FAIRMONT
MANCHESTER EFG

2:00 PM

Pivoting to Video the Best Way
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78604
JW MARRIOTT
SALON FG
Speakers are from the Washington Post, NBC News, and more.

Algorithms, Unconscious Bias, & AI
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP79139
HILTON AUSTIN DOWNTOWN
SALON DE
Another panel on this incredibly important topic.

New Mediums to Tell Authentic Food Stories
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP70099
JW MARRIOTT
SALON AB

From Publishing City Data to Solving Problems
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP77191
OUR SEASONS
BALLROOM AB

Convergence Keynote: whurley
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP97091
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM D
William Hurley will be discussing the endless possibility of quantum computing. I’m especially curious what he’ll say about quantum computing in regards to blockchain.

3:30 PM

Investigative Journalism in the Social Media Age
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP76644
JW MARRIOTT
SALON H
Speakers are from the Washington Post and more.

Illusion Design, Story Craft, and Virtual Worlds
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP78435
JW MARRIOTT
SALON 1-2
A professional illusionist discussing virtual illusion – sign me up! This is a SXSW hidden gem.

3:30 PM

Ray Kurzweil
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP99241
AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
BALLROOM D

Displaced Kitchens: Community Empowerment via Food
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP80354
JW MARRIOTT
SALON C
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and hearing Komeeda’s Nas Jab speak on his project bringing communities together – including refugees – through food. 

5:00 PM

Misinformation Age: Can AI Solve Fake News?
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP70642
HILTON AUSTIN DOWNTOWN
SALON DE
Speakers are from Facebook, Reuters, and more.

Wednesday, March 14

 11:00 AM

Era of Camera-First Food
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP72250 
JW MARRIOTT
SALON AB
Shameless plug alert: This is my panel! Fellow panelists include Lior Lev Sercarz from La Boîte (@la_boite), director and photographer Thomas Schauer (@tschauer), and Michael Friedl from Advantage Austria (@mfriedl_nyc). We’ll discuss the intersection of food and digital, and what brands need to know.

3:30 PM

Goodbye Mad Men, Hello New Gen
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP76849
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL B

Synthetic Creativity: When AI Takes Over the Arts
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP99504
FAIRMONT
CONGRESSIONAL C

5:00 PM

Starting the Internet All Over Again
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP74569
JW MARRIOTT
SALON E
This sounds fascinating – read the description!

Building a Machine Economy with IOTA
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP99190
JW MARRIOTT
SALON D
Machines that can use money – interesting concept I’d love to hear more about!

Thursday, March 15

11:00 AM

Y35 W3 C4N: Innovations in Accessibility
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP77554
HILTON AUSTIN DOWNTOWN
ROOM 400-402
We’re all fans of Haben Girma here at S2. If you get the chance to see her speak at SXSW, don’t miss it!

Digital Campfire: Storytelling on Voice UIs
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP73791
JW MARRIOTT
SALON FG
Speakers are from the Washington Post, Amazon Alexa, Quartz, and Northwestern University.

Trust Crisis: The Need for Blockchain
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP75550
JW MARRIOTT
SALON D

12:30 PM

How Volumetric Humans Impact Storytelling in VR/AR
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP77323
JW MARRIOTT
SALON 3-4

3:30 PM

Singularity is Here: Future of Data Mining in VR
https://schedule.sxsw.com/2018/events/PP75255
JW MARRIOTT
SALON 1-2

Also to note:

 



Helen Todd

Helen Todd

Helen is co-founder and CEO of Sociality Squared. She is an award-winning marketer, international speaker, and also an advisor and speaker for SXSW Interactive. Helen graduated from Xavier University and holds a Master's degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Emerson College. Connect with Helen on https://twitter.com/helenstravels and https://instagram.com/helenstravels.