South by Southwest will address the major changes expected in the tech industry with a Donald Trump presidential administration with two days of programming labeled "Tech Under Trump."
The conference announced Tuesday morning that the programming will take place on March 15-16, a day after SXSW Interactive concludes, but will be open to all SXSW badgeholders. In a release, SXSW said the goal of "Tech Under Trump" is "to inform attendees about how the tech / startup ecosystem will likely change over the next four years, as well as to inspire registrants on how to better bridge the many gaps and divisions that this election has revealed."
While Interactive will be over when the Trump-related talks take place, it will overlap with tracks related to journalism (March 10-16) and social impact (March 11-15) as well as Startup Village (March 9-16) and SXSW Gaming (March 16-18).
Confirmed speakers so far include VR Austin's Patrick Curry, blogger and entrepreneur Anil Dash, Change Catalyst co-founder and CEO Melinda Epler and co-founder Wayne Sutton, BanQu financial tech founder Ashish Gadnis; "Whiplash" author Jeff Howe; Upworthy's Eli Pariser; Next Draft newsletter maven Dave Pell; Turning Green activist Erin Schrode; and MarketPlace's Molly Wood. SXSW said it plans to announce more speakers soon.
The idea appears to have originated from a Programming Group meeting held last month that SXSW's Hugh Forrest wrote about on Medium.
In that post, Forrest wrote:
Over the 20+ years that I have worked at SXSW, I have sat through plenty of meetings — some of them less engaging than others. But, I can’t remember a meeting with as much passion and as much emotion and feeling as this one. Some of the conversation focused on re-dedicating ourselves to content that can more significantly inspire our attendees. Other portions of the conversation centered on how an event like SXSW can better break down barriers — between different kinds of industries as well as different kinds of people.
Towards the end of the 90-minute discussion, one person mentioned how proud they were to work at an organization that can have such a positive impact on the next four years. My feelings too. While I’m still grieving about the HRC defeat, I’m very excited about the kind of role SXSW will play in paving a more progressive path to the future. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we reveal specific strategies to achieve these goals.
It remains to be seen what kind of relationship SXSW itself will forge with a Trump administration. The conference enjoyed over the last year a cozy working relationship with president Barack Obama, who spoke at SXSW Interactive in March. First lady Michelle Obama spoke at a SXSW Music session and in October, the White House itself hosted a SXSW-assisted tech, music and film event called South By South Lawn.
Even after the election, SXSW staffers and some who participated in that event were invited to a White House Christmas party.
Austin @ White House Holliday Party. pic.twitter.com/JyIGe9gqbK— Richard Garriott (@RichardGarriott) December 3, 2016
Donald Trump is scheduled to have a meeting with Silicon Valley tech leaders on Wednesday.
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