How to dominate SXSW, Part 2: Tech yourself.

Hiya interwebs. This post is a continuation of our “How to dominate SXSW” series. For Part 1: Plan Your Schedule, click here.

This is the first SXSW that I’ll have an iPhone, and maybe it is for you too. Last year, I conducted my SXSW planning on scraps of paper,  but this year I’m going high-tech! Well, somewhat – what I mean by that is I’m relying very much on my iPhone, and that’s what this post is all about: The apps that will make your life easier, the Twitter people who will help you, and the back-up battery that you should DEFINITELY get if you’re going all iPhone, all the way.  You might know a lot of this stuff already but! Here’s what I’m doing, anyway.

(Also: No iPhone? No worries. Check out Lyssa’s ever-growing Excel spreadsheet of free SXSW parties, and make sure to swing over to her blog This is Life in Austin where she’ll be posting more updates).

how to dominate SXSW, part 2:
tech yourself.

Let’s start with practicalities. People, your phone is probably gonna die. By which I mean run out of power before you are ready for that to happen.  So call in some back-up!

Back-Up Battery for iPhones

Get yourself a $10 back-up battery for your iPhone. Trust me there is nothing more annoying than being in the middle of a text about the next party, when all of a sudden your screen goes blank. I say that as an Austinite; if you are an out-of-towner with no working phone, it’s not annoying. More like panic-inducing. So go order one of these handy back-up batteries, and here’s one my friend Kerissa recommended:

You can purchase this here. Also, I blew this up so you could see it – this particular battery is fairly small.

With phones alive and well, let’s get some apps.

Guide SXSW

This is a brand new iPhone app that came out last week, and if you are doing SXSW on the cheap, then my friend this app is for you. Why? It’s specifically geared to free, non-wristband SXSW shows, as well as free beer.  Free fun, ahoy!

You can browse SXSW Music parties and shows by venue, band, genre, and date. Then, once you find shows you like, click “Favorite” and it will create a Favorites list for you.

But good things – even free things – come with a price. Guide SXSW is $0.99.


This is the first-ever official SXSW schedule-based iPhone app, and it is free. This will actually be my first time to go to the conference part of SXSW, and I can already tell it’s a major Godsend, because this app includes conference happenings too.

Anyway. Because it is a comprehensive, conference-wide SXSW app, keep in mind that not all of the stuff listed is free – some of the events listed will be badge required.  Here’s what you can do with my.SXSW:

-Search/browse the entire official SXSW event list, and then filter by category, sub-category, track, time, and venue.

-Click into events to get details, add to your schedule, see/listen to pictures, video, and audio.

-Map: I LOVE this feature. You can find events going on near your location, and also find out what’s going on around you each hour.

If you don’t have an iPhone or app-supporting phone, register here and create your schedule online.

Photoshop for iPhone

Alright, this one is admittedly random, HOWEVER. It is free, it is awesome, and if you are taking pictures with your phone for mobile upload, then this is a dreamy piece of App Store booty.

Ok so let’s say you’re at a show. You take several pictures with your phone. But you either want to upload right THEN to Facebook, or, you want them to be nice-looking when you post to a blog later on. This app allows you to crop, flip, rotate, apply filters, and create color effects, etc., and it is completely intuitive – I know, because regular Photoshop is like impenetrable Confucian philosophy for me, while this app is remarkably easy.

What I’m saying is, people will basically think you are a badass photojournalist when they see the pictures you took…with your PHONE.

Foursquare (or Gowalla)

These are both fairly self-explanatory, and both have staunch loyalists. If you don’t have one already, get one. It tells you where your friends are – meaning, their coordinates on a map – making it highly useful for something like SXSW.  Personally, I think I might be in the Gowalla camp.


…will eventually take the place of business cards. I’m just kidding; I hope nothing takes the place of business cards because they are sweet and Victorian to me. But Bump is ridiculously convenient for networking purposes: you simply open up the Bump app, literally knock it against someone else’s phone whose Bump is also activated, and it trades your information with that individual. I’m not sure how. But I think it’s magic.

I also want to recommend this great SXSW app guide from Rachel Youens, Austinite-dispatched-to-Australia and founder of Austin Style Watch. She mentions some killer ones I didn’t discuss here, like the app for Tipsy Taxi. Good call, Rachel.

Moving on from apps now; let’s talk about key Twitter folks to follow who will be scrupulously detailing the highlights of SXSW in real-time.

Twitter Follows for SXSW

Here are some of the people I’ll be checking:

SXSW (well, duh.)
SXSW Parties
SXSW Party List (just to be on the safe side)
Ultra8201 (for your SXSW live music shake-down)
The Peen Scene (ditto, ESPECIALLY if your musical tastes are of the dance party, electronically-nimble variety)
MohawkAustin (one of the best SXSW rock venues)
Filter Magazine (because right now they are currently hosting my favorite SXSW parties)
TimAlamo (his Tweets are sporadic, but I think Tim League will kick it into gear for SXSW film stuff. Or else I’ll go attack him with a unicorn)
Austin 360 @ SXSW film
GuyKawasaki (if he comes again this year you KNOW he’ll be, like, the best SXSW Interactive Tweeter)
Peter Shankman (followed by this guy)
Perez Hilton (because like it or not his SXSW party is always mind-blowing)
C3 Presents (because together with Playboy, they put on the other gigantic, invite-only SXSW party)
Levi’s Fader Fort (will host a several-day free party, and regularly gets great acts)
WornWhite (because she is a genius, an Austinite, works for Filter and always has the inside scoop on…pretty much everything. My afore-mentioned friend with the back-up battery above, Kerissa)
SXSWfreeNOMS (genius. Free food, free drank, of SXSW)
DrinkUpAustin (because why not?)
SXSW Pulse (their bio points to the “news” of SXSW, which I hope is code for gossip!)
bvSXSW (Brooklyn Vegan‘s special SXSW Twitter)

Along the lines of big-time Twitterers, you might also want to add yourself to Austin Real-Time, a growing list of SXSW attendees, hosted by Mashable. That will get you A+ for in-advance networking.

Finally iPhone users, here’s one last tech tip from Kerissa/WornWhite, should AT&T go down momentarily during SXSW:

“Tell people to turn off their 3G and just use Edge if AT&T crashes. You can still send texts then.”


So there you have it, everybody. My tech gameplan for SXSW. If you have any other tech-related tips, please feel free to comment or email me (address in the right margin), and I’ll try to add them to this list.