What To See And Do At SXSW 2018

Still finalizing your SXSW schedule? Here are recommendations from Fast Company’s writers and editors.

What To See And Do At SXSW 2018
[Photo: Erik Voake]

Deciding what to see and do during this weekend’s South by Southwest is not easy. Not sure where to go? Well look no further than these recommendations from Fast Company writers and editors, including some we are hosting at the Fast Company Grill.


Saturday, March 10

The Digital War Against Bias 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Recommended by Elizabeth Segran, staff writer
This panel offers insight into how technology provides a lifeline for social justice, including the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ movements. We’re also at a time when progressive content is sometimes blocked on social platforms–sometimes inadvertently–and the alt-right is organizing. Machine learning helps drive things forward, but it sometimes interrupts the flow of information from activists. In this panel, civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson, GLAAD’s Jim Halloran, and CJ Adams of Jigsaw will address some of the thorniest issues in the news today.

Empowering Women Through Radical Empathy 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Recommended by Lydia Dishman, writer
My beat often takes me to workplace issues involving subjects that are challenging and downright uncomfortable to discuss–even among good friends. Harassment, discrimination, microaggressions, and the like are ever-present, even in the most progressive organizations. That’s why I’m excited to be a part of frog design’s workshop (Fast Company is a partner) aimed at creating a constructive conversation around unconscious bias. The goal is to explore how it can impact performance, productivity, and morale–and more importantly, how strengths-based design research techniques can encourage change and boost the entire company culture.

L’Oreal Activation, Fast Company Grill 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (also on March 11)
Recommended by Eillie Anzilotti, assistant editor
Confession: I am a skincare junkie. I like prowling the aisles of Sephora testing weird creams on the back of my hand. If it ends in acid, I have probably put in on my face. But I never know if whatever combination of products I’m slathering on before falling asleep works best for me–and I’d certainly like to! So I’ll be visiting the L’Oreal booth at the Fast Company Grill (L’Oreal is a sponsor). The beauty company will be demo-ing some of its cutting-edge tools, including new tech that analyzes your skin and produces a custom serum on the spot. As attached as I am to my trial-and-error skincare methods, I have a feeling this will be a major upgrade.


Yoga Wake Up presents “Afternoon Revival” 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Recommended by Elizabeth Segran, staff writer
SXSW can be a hectic affair, so you need to plan your time there to include plenty of stress relief. What better way to do that than this “Afternoon Revival”? It’s a yoga class bookended by meditation and nap time. By the end of the session, you’ll feel ready to take on the rest of your packed schedule.

Sunday, March 11

Bracing for a New Age of Longevity 5-6 p.m.
By 2050, about two billion people across the world will be 60 or older. How will housing, health, tech, and the workplace adjust accordingly? Fast Company‘s Eillie Anzilotti joins a panel on how society will have to respond as life expectancy rises and the 60+ population swells. With Unity Biotechnology president Ned David, MIT AgeLab founder and director Joseph Coughlin, and The Longevity Fund partner Laura Deming.

Monday, March 12

How 5 Months on the PCT Made Me Better at My Job 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Does your company have a flexible or “unlimited” paid time off policy? Have you ever taken advantage of it? Elizabeth Schwartz, the COO of software startup Square Root, did exactly that when she took a sabbatical in 2016 and spent five months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Fast Company‘s Lydia Dishman will talk to Schwartz about how her experience influenced Square Root and how other companies can effectively introduce sabbaticals.


Max Richter’s Sleep, 11:30 p.m.-8:00am
Recommended by KC Ifeanyi, associate editor
Fräulein Maria once asked a bedroom full of Austrian kids what their favorite things were. Had I been among the von Trapps (as their fly, black cousin from the U.S., I guess?) I would have cited “scored music” and “sleep” somewhere in my verse. I’m a certified fanboy of film and TV composers (if you haven’t seen the doc Score, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life). And given the blessed fact I don’t have to deal with people IRL when I hit that REM cycle, sleep is also a treasured commodity. SXSW is bringing those two things together in what looks like an experience plucked from my dreams. (See what I did there?) Max Richter, the composer behind the heartbreaking score of HBO’s The Leftovers (again, if you haven’t seen it, I really am running out of things to say to you) has teamed up with mattress company Beautyrest for an overnight concert “intended to lull the audience to sleep with soft entrancing harmonies, offering a once-in-a-lifetime restful listening experience.” My most favorite things, indeed.

Tuesday, March 13

Convergence Keynote: Nonny de la Peña 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Recommended by Daniel Terdiman, staff writer
She may not be as well known in the mainstream as the likes of Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, but de la Peña’s reputation and importance within the virtual reality industry is huge. She’s been called the “godmother of virtual reality,” not least because she was an early mentor of Luckey’s. Since then, her company, the Emblematic Group, has been a pioneering force in VR journalism, and de la Pena’s voice is vital in evangelizing for VR in general, and more specifically, as a powerful way of bringing viewers directly into the middle of situations like no other medium can. During her keynote address, de la Peña will talk about some of the ways she has used the nascent consumer tech for storytelling, and will also share some early thoughts on Reach, Emblematic’s brand new content authorship platform.

How Does VR Become a Truly Mainstream Technology 5-6 p.m.
Speaking of virtual reality: Fast Company‘s Daniel Terdiman will lead a discussion on what needs to happen for laypeople to adopt VR. With Miles Perkins, marketing VP of Jaunt VR; Yelena Rachitsky, executive producer of Experiences at Oculus; and Maureen Fan, CEO of Baobab Studios.


Answer with Action: A New Activism Platform 5-6 p.m.
Join Fast Company‘s Elizabeth Segran in conversation with executives from Patagonia—brand creative director John Goodwin and environmental grants manager Lisa Myers—as well as the Earth Law Center’s executive director, Darlene Lee. The panelists will talk about the value of community organizing and how to take action on the issues that matter to you.


About the author

Pavithra Mohan is a staff writer for Fast Company.