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The Recommender: SXSW Interactive 2015 Edition!

Headed to SXSW Interactive? Here’s what Fast Company editors and writers down in Austin think you should do while you’re in town!

SXSW Interactive has changed a lot over the years–but it’s still one of the funnest gatherings of techies, entrepreneurs, marketers, and other creatives in America. Every year, Fast Company sets up camp near SXSW at the Fast Company Grill so that our editors and writers can have easy access to all that the annual convergence has to offer–you can stop by the Grill too, just check out our Grill schedule here. Check this page often–our staff will keep adding their recommendations for what to do, see, use, and eat while you’re in Austin this weekend.

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Monday, March 16

Attend! Decoding Our Bodies: A New Era of Citizen Health 9:30 a.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
Sam De Brouwer, cofounder of Scanadu, Linda Avey, cofounder of 23andMe and cofounder & CEO of Curious, Inc., and Jessica Richman, cofounder and CEO of uBiome, “will share their unique perspectives on democratizing health care and learning how to decode our bodies and potentially alter the future of our personal health. From understanding our genetic code to discovering what’s happening in our microbiome to having unparalleled access to our vitals, learn how the future of health is literally in our hands.” Location: JW Marriott, Room 203-204

Attend! Expressive Interactive Interfaces 9:30 a.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
This event promises to discuss “machines and robots made out of materials as soft and lightweight as natural tissue,” which has me intrigued. This video about “soft robots” by speaker Carmel Majidi only makes me more curious. Location: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon B

Attend! How Serialized Fiction Is Rewriting the Book 9:30 a.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
I’m definitely a book geek, but to be honest, I didn’t realize until recently that serialized fiction was starting to take off again (paging Charles Dickens)! Speakers on this panel include author Michelle Miller, Slate columnist Jon Nathanson, who apparently is “commissioning fiction series in the style of TV—with high concepts, production bibles, showrunners, and writing teams” (what?!), and Henry Hall, the lead product manager for the Kindle at Amazon. Location: Four Seasons, Ballroom AB

Attend! News or Not? Navigating Native in the Grey Zone 9:30 p.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
My colleagues on the business side of Fast Company‘s operation have been doing some really interesting stuff on the paid content front lately. This panel featuring Sebastian Tomich of The New York Times and Mark Howard of Forbes Media seems like a good opportunity to learn what our competitors are up to–and how they’re navigating what can be pretty sticky terrain for journalists, marketers, and media executives alike. Location: Hyatt Regency Austin, Texas Ballroom 4-7

Bionic Pancreas: Getting CloserPhoto: courtesy of SXSW

Attend! Bionic Pancreas: Getting Closer 11 a.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
What the heck is a “bionic pancreas”? This panel featuring Harvard Medical School professor Steven Russell will discuss efforts to create a pancreas that “combines novel medical devices and formulations of insulin and glucagon to mimic the function of the pancreas outside the body.” Since diabetes can be such a difficult illness for some people to manage, this seems like a pretty noble project. As the event summary notes, “The standard of care to date has been the injection of insulin to manage high blood sugar and the ingestion of carbohydrates to manage low blood sugar. This is akin to managing the temperature in your house with a space heater to add heat and opening the windows to cool things off.” Location: JW Marriot Room 201-202

Think Like an Animator: Motion on Android

Attend! Think Like an Animator: Motion on Android 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Recommended by Mark Wilson, senior writer
A designer at Tumblr and engineer at Android have teamed up for Think Like An Animator–a primer to making your apps feel more magical. What I heard that’s not in the session’s abstract, though, is that they’ll actually be talking about Walt Disney’s famous 12 Principles of Animation, and applying those rules to how you should develop your app. Should be a good event. Location: JW Marriott Salon D

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Attend! Inside the World of Mix 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
This is going to be awesome: Fast Company senior writer Mark Wilson interviews Sir Mix-A-Lot! Location: Fast Company Grill

Attend! The Future of the Fest 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
A talk with Simon Lowden, chief marketing officer at PepsiCo North America Beverages; Russell Wallach, president of media and partnerships at Live Nation; and musician Jack Antonoff of Fun. and Bleachers; moderated by Co.Create editor Teressa Iezzi. Location: Fast Company Grill

Toy StoryPhoto: Pixar Studios

Attend! Infinity and Beyond: Pixar and 20 Years Since Toy Story 5 p.m.
Recommended by Sarah Kessler, Associate Editor
Toy Story came out 20 years ago. Which makes me feel very old. This panel has Ed Catmull (Pixar president), Pete Docter (Director of Monsters, Inc., Up, and upcoming Inside Out) Jim Morris (president of Pixar Annimation Studios), and Galyn Susman (producer of Toy Story TV specials) talking about making the film and how animation has evolved since then. Location: Austin Convention Center, Room 18ABCD

Tuesday, March 17

Attend! How Media Companies Build Tech Scenes 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Recommended by Noah Robischon, executive editor
How can a small startup scene outside of NY, L.A., or SF get the media attention it deserves? Eric Hellweg, managing director of Harvard Business Review, suggests that cities should invest in their media scenes the same way they invest in tech hubs, and he’ll explain what that looks like in this discussion along with Joshua Rubin and Tom Cheradar from Daily Dot Media. Location: Texas Ballroom 2-3

Photo: courtesy of Kamp K Productions

Attend! Being Evel 8:30-10:10 p.m.
Recommended by Maccabee Montandon, senior editor
If there’s anyone who understand the brilliant, brutal beauty of 1970s uber-stuntman Evel Kneivel, it’s Jackass mastermind Johnny Knoxville. This Knoxville-produced doc explores the “sometimes glorious and sometimes disastrous” life of the man inside the red-white-and-blue helmet. It’s said that Kneivel broke some 433 bones during his airborne career–but you can learn all about his curious adventures in the comfort of a theater seat, entirely fracture-free. Location: Alamo Slaughter

What you missed

Friday, March 13

Attend! The Art and Science of Shareability 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Recommended by Rose Pastore, assistant editor
The publisher of BuzzFeed, Dao Nguyen, will discuss how BuzzFeed uses data to understand what makes stories go viral. I assume we’ll get something of a behind-the-scenes look at #TheDress. Location: Hyatt Regency Austin Texas Ballroom 4-7

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Attend! The Secret History of Hypertext 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Recommended by Rose Pastore, assistant editor
I’m really into the history of science, so this talk appeals to me. It’s about a Belgian bibliographer named Paul Otlet who, in 1934, outlined his idea for a global network of “electric telescopes” that would connect people to a library of documents and images. How prescient! The talk will go into how we can apply Otlet’s utopian vision to creating a better future Internet. Location: JW Marriott Salon 3

Photo: Erik Voake

Attend! The Road Ahead For The Walking Dead 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
Fast Company senior writer Mark Wilson chats with The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and executive producer David Alpert about what’s next for the show. Location: Fast Company Grill

Attend! Well-Designed: Creating Empathy-Driven Products 5-6 p.m.
Recommended by Noah Robischon, executive editor
Your app may have great features that disrupt an entire industry, but it will feel soulless and manufactured unless it offers a meaningful connection to the people using it every day. Jon Kolko, VP of consumer design at Blackboard, will talk about how to build empathy into your design process in order to provoke emotion and change behaviors. Location: JW Marriott Salon A

Watch! The Last Man on the Moon 7:45pm-9:30 p.m.
Recommended by Rose Pastore, assistant editor
This is a documentary about Apollo astronaut Eugene Cernan, who was the last human ever to walk on the moon. He wrote his daughter’s initials into the soil. The film is about how his incredible career affected his family. As his wife said, “If you think going to the moon is hard, try staying at home.” Location: Vimeo Theater

Attend! Busta Rhymes via MRY 10:30 p.m.
Recommended by Mark Wilson, senior writer
Does everyone get way too many invites to parties at SXSW, or am I just a privileged member of the media? (Seriously, I’m not sure.) I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know what to go to! Regardless, the creative/tech agency MRY is hosting a two-night “Manor” event. They’ll have Busta Rhymes on March 13 and Nas on March 14. How can you miss that? How can you be at the party that Busta Rhymes is not at? You will be able to stand in line for general admission overflow the nights-of. Location: 409 Colorado St.

Download! Meerkat
Recommended by Noah Robischon, executive editor
Ever since Twitter and Foursquare blasted off at SXSW, there’s been a sub-rosa competition to become the app that everyone “discovers” at the festival. While the past couple of years have offered little satisfaction, the early contender for this year’s crown goes to Meerkat. The real-time social streaming app is easy to use, fun–and was created with brands in mind, according to CEO and cofounder Ben Rubin. That means you can expect Meerkat to be draining batteries and hogging bandwidth all weekend long.

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Click! Unofficial Guide To SXSW 2015
Recommended by Noah Robischon, executive editor
SXsocial is the official tool for messaging other conference attendees this year, but my favorite SXSW utility is still the Unofficial Guide. Now in its 8th year, this well-designed calendar can be sorted in all kinds of ways, and lets you figure out what sessions your friends are going to attend.

Saturday, March 14

Attend! Netflix Shares a Decade of A/B Test Learning 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Recommended by Rose Pastore, assistant editor
Netflix’s VP of product innovation, Todd Yellin, will discuss what the company has learned during its years of A/B testing users. We know that Netflix’s original shows, including House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, were created based on data about the programming that users liked. Location: JW Marriott Salon D

Attend! City of Creativity: Where Tech and Talent Meet 11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti talks with Fast Company editor-in-chief Bob Safian about new ways technology and creativity can improve cities. Location: Fast Company Grill

Attend! Radiolab Presents: The Year That Broke Austin Noon-5 p.m.
Recommended by Rebecca Greenfield, staff writer
Want a break from SXSW insanity and a unique way to tour the area? This partnership between Radiolab and Detour, the new audio tour app from Groupon flameout Andrew Mason, explores the city by way of a 130-year-old unsolved mystery! Strap on your headphones and tune in for an hour and a half deep dive into the case of the Servant Girl Annihilator as you engage in a walking tour through the city. Location: The corner of East 5th and San Jacinto Blvd

Attend! Creating and Crushing Your Business 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
Fast Company associate editor Sarah Kessler hosts a talk with Birchbox cofounder and co-CEO Hayley Barna, Equinox president Sarah Robb O’Hagan, and Spring cofounder and CEO Alan Tisch. The topic: how to use data to create better products and grow your business. Location: Fast Company Grill

Attend! How CNN and The New York Times Moderate Comments 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Recommended by Rose Pastore, assistant editor
Many people like to discuss things they find online on social media, not in comments sections. That’s because comment sections are often awful and abusive. But some sites are able to foster intelligent, welcoming comment communities. I’m interested to hear how the NYT and CNN think about comments and their role on the Internet in the age of social media. Location: JW Marriott Salon 8

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Attend! SXSWi Keynote: Princess Reema’s Mission to Empower Saudi Arabia 2 p.m.
Recommended By Sarah Kessler, associate editor
Fast Company editor Bob Safian will interview Princess Reema about the importance of female inclusion. Princess Reema was our most creative person of the year in 2014, and she has an amazing story. Location: Exhibit Hall 5

Attend! Fast Company Happy Hour 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
By invitation only: Fast Company‘s VIP/Most Creative People happy hour. Location: Fast Company Grill

Attend! Live Recording of Harmontown Podcast 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Recommended by Mark Wilson, senior writer
Call me a fanboy, and that’s fine. Dan Harmon, who you may know as the creator of Community and co-creator of Rick & Morty, is hosting a live viewing of his Harmontown podcast on Saturday at 7pm. All badge types can show up, but don’t you jerkfaces dare sit in front of me. Location: Yahoo’s Brazos Hall

Photo: Erik Voake

Attend! The Fast Company Grill Party 9:00 p.m.-midnight
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
By invitation only: The Fast Company Grill party, featuring Ludwig & Stiegler. Location: Fast Company Grill

Attend! MRY Manor Party 9:30 p.m.
Recommended by Noah Robischon, executive editor
Nas is headlining a party thrown by creative and technology agency MRY (formerly Mr. Youth) tonight. You’ll need a wristband to get in, and probably an even fancier wristband if you want to skip the line that will undoubtedly stretch down the block. The fact that this event is hosted by an ad agency rather than, say, Facebook is further proof that SXSW is fast becoming Cannes on the Colorado. Location: 409 Colorado St.

Sunday, March 15

Attend! What Does An Art And Design Incubator Look Like? 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Recommended by Noah Robischon, executive editor
Last May, The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City established an incubator to support entrepreneurship in creative industries. The first batch of participants in NEW INC include breakthrough projects spanning everything from wearables to countersurveillance products and software. In this session, the director of the program (and former editor of The Creators Project) will talk with CEOs and artists about what’s been learned so far. Location: Next Stage

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Taste! The GE BBQ Research Center
1-6 p.m.
Recommended by Noah Robischon, executive editor
Eating at Stubbs, making a trek to Salt Lick, or lining up at the BBQ food truck everyone is raving about is a meat-eater’s tradition during SXSW. This year GE is betting it can best all of them with a 12 foot high “Super Smoker” that pushes 300 gallons of smoke past seven sensors in an attempt to create a scientifically superior rack of ribs. And just to make it more competitive, they invited some of Texas’ most famous BBQ makers to serve up their smoked delicacies as well. Bring your own bib. Location: 96 Red River St.

Attend! Curiosity and Conversation 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
Brian Grazer and Fast Company‘s Charles Fishman discuss the fun of curiosity! Location: Fast Company Grill

Fast Talk: The Chilling World of The Boy 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Recommended by Anjali Mullany, editor
Go behind-the-scenes of the new horror flick The Boy, with Rainn Wilson, Jared Breeze, David Morse, Craig William Macneill, Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah, and Josh Waller, moderated by Co.Create editor Teressa Iezzi. Location: Fast Company Grill

Momofuku founder David ChangPhoto: Gabriele Stabile, courtesy of Momofuku

Attend! The Future Role of Tech in Dining and Food 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Recommended by Noah Robischon, executive editor
Tasting Table publisher Amie Deutch pointed out to me that there are more than 40 sessions devoted to food and experiential dining at this year’s festival. There are sessions devoted to IBM’s robo-chef, reinventing the cooking show, and former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold discussing his six-volume cookbook. But the highlight is likely to be this session in which Matt Buchanan, editor of The Awl, discusses how tech is changing the way we interact with and consume food with Momofuku founder David Chang. Location: Ballroom D

Attend! DJ TOKiMONSTA 4 p.m.
Recommended by Sarah Kessler, associate editor
TOKiMONSTA will be “using a Littmann® Electronic Stethoscope that monitors and sends heartbeats to a computer to mix her heartbeat into the music as she spins.” I just want to know what that means. Location: East 4th and Trinity

Attend! The Story Strikes Back 4-6 p.m.
Recommended by Sarah Kessler, associate editor
Sponsored by Scribd and Rooster, co-hosted by The Texas Book Festival, Recovering the Classics, BitLit, Plympton, Litographs, Project Gitenberg, JukePop, and The Proper Company, this is a gathering of nerdy word people. I am a nerdy word person. And they’ve promised fried green tomatoes and BBQ sliders. Location: Lamberts Downtown Barbecue

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Attend! 4D @ SXSW 4- 9 p.m.
Recommended by Sarah Kessler, Associate Editor
An augmented reality helmet company called DAQRI is hosting a party, and I’m hoping it involves everyone wearing an augmented reality helmet. It might not. Location: Jones Center Rooftop at The Contemporary Austin

Attend! Funny Or Die Comedy
Recommended by Sarah Kessler, associate editor
Sunday March 15 at The Belmont Austin, 8 p.m.
Do not get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with giving away free beer. I love free beer. But I’m always impressed when someone at SXSW does something that is entertaining in another way, and this event does that. On Sunday night there’s a “super serious show” with James Adomian, Nick Kroll, Kurt Braunohler, Beth Stelling, John Early, Kyle Mizono & Red Bastard and a “special appearance” by Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart. What more do you want? Oh, free beer. But they might have that, too! Location: 305 West Sixth St.