The Non-Obvious Insights Blog. Non-Obvious Insights
The Non-Obvious Insights Blog.

Dedicated To Helping Readers
Be More Interesting
Since 2004.

As Featured In:

25 SXSW 2011 Panel Ideas Worth Getting Excited About

IMB_SXSWPanelPicker2011 Every year the SXSW event starts the excitement around planning early by releasing their “panel picker” – an online interface that lists all the panel submission ideas for SXSW along with descriptions and offers anyone the chance to vote or comment on the panel choices. This feedback is then used by the planners of SXSW as 30% of the decisions to finalize all the sessions for the actual event. This year there were 2347 ideas submitted for the Interactive portion of SXSW, with the most popular category being Branding/Marketing/Publicity (of course) with 175 entries. Social Networking was the second most popular with 132 entries.

IMB_SXSWPanelPicker2011_2 In this vast list, it is hard to find the ones really worth getting excited about. I spent some time in the interface reading descriptions and getting to see some of the common threads. Here are just a few of the more than 2000 entries that I think are really worth getting excited about. Please check them out and offer them your support and votes as well!*

  1. YouTube vs Cave Drawings: Our Future Anthropological Imprint – This panel tackles a big question that I have often wondered about myself in terms of the legacy that all of our incessant tweeting will leave behind about the human race of our time and how we recorded our own history. I love the idea of this session.
  2. The Art Of Enchantment – Guy, you had me at “the art.” This is the worldwide introduction of Guy’s new book and will definitely be huge – I plan to get there early for this one and you should too.
  3. What Digital Tribes can Learn from Native Americans – Marketers talk a lot about tribes and I love the premise of this session which will be led by Allison Aldridge-saur of the Chickasaw Nation Division of Commerce. There is much that any of us could learn from the Native American culture and I’m thrilled to see a session idea that puts this into digital terms.
  4. Be Heard: How to Innovate At Big Companies – This is a topic close to my heart as I hate all those self help books that just tell you to quit your job if you want to do what you love. There are plenty of ways for personal passion to coexist with working for a big company … and sometimes you might even be able to do them at the same time.
  5. Why Nurses Are Vital In Emerging Technology – It is a real shame that more of the tech and social media types who attend SXSW probably won’t have heard of Phil – but he is a rockstar in the healthcare blogging world and a symbol of the growing ranks of nurse bloggers who will have some great thoughts to share in this session.
  6. Unpacking Gender: Men, Women, Technology and More – To say that gender frames much of what we do and how we act probably isn’t a newsflash – but what intrigued me about this panel idea was that Debbie Chachra from Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering promises to “unpack” these issues and offer more insight into the differences. It’s a topic worth learning about.
  7. Tweeting On Weekends – Are We Becoming Socially Anti-Social? –  Ok, this is my panel submission and of course it has to be on this list (if I didn’t think it was good, I wouldn’t have submitted it right?) It is a topic I care a lot about because I try hard not to let social media interrupt my social interactions with people I meet or my time at home with my two young boys. In this panel, we’ll explore the leash that technology keeps us on, and how to manage it without losing your sense of perspective. (Disclaimer – This is a panel idea submitted by the author of this blog post, Rohit Bhargava)
  8. F U 2.0 – Scott Stratten is the irreverent voice that many people working in marketing today need to hear and his perspective on the BS of all the 2.0 stuff around us and how to cut through it should be entertaining and educational.
  9. Latinas in Technology: Beauty, Brains and Blogging – This panel organized by my new Ogilvy colleague Kety Esquivel focuses on a demographic that is often ignored and I am a big supporter of having more diversity and sessions like this at SXSW.
  10. Brand Journalism: The Rise of Non-Fiction Advertising – I really like the term that Kyle Monson from JWT uses in this title of “non-fiction advertising.” In theory, all advertising should be non-fiction, but focusing on how brands are becoming publishers of content is a strong topic and one that more and more brands are concerned about.
  11. Stop Dreaming, Start Doing: Tips For Execution – Scott Belsky of Behance is the guru of helping you to make your ideas reality and this session is guaranteed to leave you with actionable information you will be able to use right away.
  12. How NPR And PBS Can Reinvent Local Journalism – Kevin Dando from PBS is hosting this discussion which will be a must-attend session for anyone keeping a close eye on the future of the publishing and journalism worlds.
  13. Marketing Museums: From the Web to the Door – There is some wonderful and mostly unrecognized innovation coming from Museums in the social media space and I was glad to see this session in the list of potential ones. Even if you don’t work at a museum, the lessons in this about merging the online and offline worlds and adding a virtual dimension to something real are important lessons to take away.
  14. Social Media Mythbusters – Peter Kim is a very smart guy and this session that takes apart some of the prevailing lingo of social media types and shines a light on it will be much needed. I just hope I don’t use any of those words.
  15. The Luxury/Digital Paradox: Taking Luxury Brands Digital – One of the most underdiscussed sectors in social media and digital is luxury brands – something I have shared before. I’m glad this panel is potentially going to be included at the very least so this message of just how important and relevant social media can be for luxury products is an important one.
  16. How I Plan On Killing The Billboard – This is a bold promise from a filmmaker turned marketer, but the lessons in this session seem to be engaging and it is one of those where I want to see what happens so I would attend just for that.
  17. Marketers at SWSXi – Don’t Be A Douche – SXSW is one of those events in real danger of swallowing itself and losing the every edge that has made it so popular. Central to this danger is the growing role of marketers at the event. How can you reach people in this crowded event without being “a douche”? Hopefully this session will offer some good tips on that.
  18. Block Party Capitalism: Where Analog and Digital Intersect – Jon Gerzema is one of those people with a job that gives him access to insights about people and behaviours that you or I might only read about. In this session, he promises to share what pickles; vinyl records, urban chickens, Farmville, flea markets and Tumblr all have in common. Ok Jon, you got me hooked.
  19. Keds. The Original Sneaker, Relaunched. – I love a good case study and this looks like it will deliver exactly that. Keds has a great story and I’m looking forward to learning more about it.
  20. The Art of Immersion: Tron – I was never a Tron guy, but the interesting story behind this panel from Frank Rose at Wired had me intrigued. Should be a fun session with lots of geek attention.
  21. 500,000 New Mobile Users Daily? Welcome to India! – This one had to make my list because it was (surprisingly) about the only panel proposal that talked about anything related to South Asians or India. International topics in general are usually underrepresented at SXSW and if you are voting for sessions, I would strongly urge you to try and find just a few interesting international ones that you could offer some support to.
  22. Intercultural Intelligence: Designing Your Site for Global Opportunities – This session from my friend Paolo Nagari will be worth checking out for anyone who is thinking of expanding globally and dealing with audiences with different cultural backgrounds. Paolo is a fountain of knowledge on how to effectively communicate with other cultures.
  23. Your Computer is the Next Wonder Drug – Jon is a pioneer in the healthcare social media field and his blog posts routinely make the rounds at just about every big pharma company. In this session, he tackles some BIG questions about healthcare and social media and his take will be worth listening to.
  24. Crowdsourcing: Innovation and/or Exploitation? – Kickstarter is a site that helps anyone get any idea funded, and in this session Fred Benenson tackles the increasingly asked question of whether crowdsourcing is innovation or exploitation, or perhaps a little of both. I’m looking forward to hearing and participating in the debate on this one.
  25. 8 Easy Ways To Sabotage Your Film’s Marketing – Though this is officially a submission for the Film portion of SXSW, I included it in this list because it is a topic I am passionate about and have wanted to lead a discussion on for several years now. This year I am finally lining up a killer panel of film marketing pros to share their dos and don’ts about marketing. (Disclaimer – This is a panel idea submitted by the author of this blog post, Rohit Bhargava)

*Note: My method for choosing these panels was based on looking at the presenters and the topics in the panel picker interface. In some cases, I know and have personal relationships with the speakers … but no one solicited me or asked to be put on this list and aside from the two panel suggestions that I personally made (#7 and #25) I have no personal stake in any of these panels.

9 thoughts on “25 SXSW 2011 Panel Ideas Worth Getting Excited About”

  1. Great list (and I’m not just saying that because my proposal is on it).

    Thanks for putting this together. Gave me a good place to start combing through the 2,800 submissions.


  2. hey Rohit,
    Weekend tweeting a topic close to my heart.

    Did you see the related quote from our ultimate leader re: business BlackBerry use on holiday? (Registration)
    >Sir Martin Sorrell:
    “This may sound a little harsh, but we should definitely keep in touch with the office. Our clients’ businesses are 24/7 and do not stop for holidays – whenever they are. One of the great and different things about our business is that we operate effectively on Christmas day, Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan, for example.

    Opportunities, challenges and crises do not wait for our return. You can always organise time on holiday to deal with the priorities and still be with your family – and there are always the weekends.”

    Hope we both make the cut and I see you in Texas xx

  3. Thank you, Rohit, for including my proposal on your list! I am so excited to explore Native American Tribalism as it can benefit Digital Media tribes. I am keeping my fingers crossed!

    Like Jonathan, above, I also really appreciate your giving us a targeted place to start our review!


  4. Links weren’t working for whatever reason…?

    As a former Texas resident, I used to look forward to SXSW with much anticipation. In regards to #7, I’m torn on weekend use of social media and email. As a collegiate sports coach, I am typically the first person that my team will call/email/text when they need help and I don’t want to be unavailable to them in a serious situation.

    And what of those of us trying to kick off personal businesses? The only time is after work and on the weekends. But the other side of that same coin is that that’s also my family time…something’s got to give.

    Can’t wait to hear your session!

  5. I’m with you on this one. They have way too much private info. I am switching to Mozilla. Wait, someone is at the door. . . It’s Eric Schmidt and the Google police. Quick delete my post! I was just kidding.


Leave a Comment

The Non-Obvious Insights Newsletter. Non-Obvious Insights
Layer 97
The Non-Obvious Insights Newsletter
Layer 118

Skip the obvious and anticipate the future with our weekly newsletter. Join over 25,000 subscribers and start receiving the stories (and insights) you’ve been missing.

All Books

#1 WSJ & USAToday Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

Vector Smart Object


Have a Question or Inquiry?

Just fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

About You

What Are You Contacting Us About*:

Your Message