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Seven Memorable Moments At SXSW Interactive

Scott Beale
Laughing Squid

Best known as the festival that launched Foursquare and popularized Twitter, SXSW Interactive has for nearly two decades been a meeting ground for geeks, marketers, hackers, and social media ninjas. This week KERA will begin the annual swing through Austin for SXSW, starting with education, then interactive and film -- and music of course.

Before we begin coverage of wearable technology, and high-tech health monitors, let’s take a look back at SXSW Interactive highlights from years past:

1994: The debut of the interactive portion of SXSW. Interactive back then was just a handful of creatives, now it attracts tens of thousands of movers and shakers in the interactive industry. Check out these cool infographics on interactive’s evolution here.

2002:  The third annual “Sexiest Geek Alive Competition” is held at SXSW. Star Trek star Chase Masterson announces the winner is Chad Biggs, who beat out 12,000 contestants.

2006: Gamers delight: SXSW Interactive launches ScreenBurn, a portion of the conference devoted to gaming. This year, the SXSW Gaming Expo is FREE and open to the public. If you want to get your game on and explore the future of games, mobile or console, in comics or toys, this is the place to be. The keynote panel for Interactive featured Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark.

2007:  Twitter becomes the first major product to launch at the conference. Next time you send out a 140 character message, thank the festival.

2008: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had a less than stellar keynote -- and a Q&A that was derailed by a very unhappy audience.

2011: Interactive breaks attendance records -- about 14,000 people networked, talked ideas, and partied. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports how South by Southwest Interactive earned the reputation as Spring Break for Geeks.

2012:  Tech-loving comedian Baratunde Thurston named first 2012 SXSW Interactive keynote speaker. He co-founded the black political blog, Jack and Jill Politics and served as Director of Digital for The Onion before launching the comedy/technology startup Cultivated Wit.

Check out this list of past speakers for more.

Follow @lsilverwoman, @stephenbecker and @amelson for coverage of this year’s event.