How Associations are Making Their SXSW Imprints Felt

Associations, big and small, are all over the annual education, interactive, and music festival, which is getting even more attention than usual, thanks to President Obama's appearance in Austin this year. Here are some of the places you can spot them.

Barack Obama’s decision to become the first sitting president to take a stage at South by Southwest (SXSW) has brought extra attention to the conference this year—in ways both positive and negative.

(For one thing, the president’s decision to keep his commitment to SXSW over attending the funeral of former first lady Nancy Reagan has drawn controversy this week, though PolitiFact Texas reports it is rare for sitting presidents to attend the funerals of first ladies.)

However, Obama won’t be the only big figure making his presence felt at the annual education, technology, and culture conference, the interactive portion of which starts Friday.

In ways both big and small, a variety of well-known associations also will make imprints on the event. Among the groups you might stumble upon in Austin, Texas, in the next couple of weeks:

Consumer Technology Association (CTA): The tech industry group, famed for putting on CES each year, will hold the third edition of its Innovation Policy Day in Austin on March 15. In an interview with DC Inno, CTA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Michael Petricone emphasized that the annual event is meant to get the ball rolling on regulatory discussions. “We want to change modes and expectations in ways that make sense for the 21st century,” Petricone said. “We want to find where regulatory oversight is needed and where it isn’t.”

American Library Association (ALA): Librarians have already been making their presence felt at SXSWedu, the educational portion of the conference taking place March 7-10. On Tuesday, ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries held an event called “Hacking Education Through Libraries,” while the association’s Office for Information Technology Policy hosted a session on the educational role of 3D printing. And American Libraries reports that ALA is also holding events on copyright issues and the role of libraries as incubators at SXSW Interactive.

Americana Music Association (AMA): SXSW is famed for music, of course, and this year’s event will be no exception, with AMA putting on a party with the internet radio service Pandora. Those taking the association’s stage this year include a couple of legendary country acts: Wynonna Judd and her band the Big Noise and local Austin heroes Asleep at the Wheel. You can catch them on March 17 at the Gatsby.

And there’s more, too: A few other events of note: The Association for Computing Machinery will be holding a happy hour on Friday, while Online News Association Digital Director Trevor Knoblich will talk data in journalism on Saturday, and the American Music Rights Association’s Brahim Ait Ben Larbi will speak up on the issue of streaming and payments during a Wednesday event.

So even after the president is gone, there’s still plenty to do if you made it to Austin this year. Go forth!

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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