Inspiring Speakers, Long Lines Mark SXSW Day Two

Day two of SXSW Interactive involved a lot of walking and a lot of waiting. My Interactive badge gives me access to dozens of panels, meetings, sessions and meetups on the latest cutting-edge technologies.

One of those sessions featured former Vice President Al Gore, whose talk with The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg examined the future of the world to come. Gore told a crowd of more than 3,000 festival-goers that overpopulation, environmental damage, genetic engineering and an increased reliance on advanced technology are just a few of the factors that will drive global change, in ways both good and bad.

By many accounts, the former Vice President’s speech was amazing. It was a solid and thorough look at the advances to come and the potential dangers they pose.

It’s too bad I couldn’t hear him deliver his talk in person. More than an hour before his address, the line to enter wrapped around the convention center. Several hundred people, myself included, waited over an hour to score a seat in the session room before we were turned away.

And Al Gore’s talk wasn’t the only event that I couldn’t get into.

A different panel discussing how retail is going mobile hit capacity just as I reached the room’s entryway. There, the speakers included Wendy Bergh, the senior director of mobile and digital strategy at Wal-Mart, and Aaron Emigh, co-founder and CTO of shopkick, a mobile rewards program for physical-world retail.

It’s no surprise that so many sessions seem to be at capacity well before they begin – the quality of speakers at SXSW Interactive has made it one of the country’s premier festivals for technology enthusiasts. It’s a great reflection of south Texas’s growing technology scene. More importantly, SXSW shows that cities like Austin and San Antonio – both of which have a strong presence this weekend – are more than prepared to compete with Silicon Valley as the next greatest technology hubs.

Rackspace has a flurry of events planned for SXSW Interactive 2013. And if you want to find us on Twitter, be sure to keep an eye on the hash-tag #SXRackspace.

Leezia Dhalla was the Speakers Bureau Program Manager at Rackspace until 2015, where she was responsible for coordinating external speaking engagements and developing corporate messaging for senior leadership, software developers and key subject matter experts. graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science.



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