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Pogue Discovers SxSW Interactive

Rafe Needleman

AUSTIN — It was David Pogue’s first time ever going to the South by Southwest festival, the big annual nerdfest and culture crucible where technologists, filmmakers and musicians come together. The festival is actually several slightly overlapping conferences, but Pogue and I went with only the geek badges: SXSW Interactive.

The show is overwhelming. In addition to thousands of people fighting to get into great sessions (Edward Snowden, Kevin Bacon), there are tons of off-site sponsored events (like our own Tech Mix interviews), and of course, parties into the morning every single day.

It’s 100 percent a media festival and 100 percent a place to get great business done. It’s too much for any normal person to navigate, especially the first time out. I wanted to make sure Pogue had what he needed to survive, so I came up with a short list of things he needed and walked him around until he got his SXSW legs.

See the video to check out my advice for tackling SXSW. Here are some other things you might want to pack for a conference like this:

Comfy shoes. Obviously.
Hand sanitizer. Have you ever heard of “Southby SARS”? You don’t want it.
Earplugs. Your hotel might be over a music club.
A ride app like Uber, Lyft or Sidecar (depends on the city you’re in; Austin doesn't have Lyft or Sidecar) and a taxi-hailing app like Taxi Magic.
A major attitude, to bluff your way into the cool parties you haven’t been invited to. Pro tip: Hit parties in a posse. At SXSW Interactive, you should aim for a major technologist, a well-known media personality (thanks, Pogue!) or somebody very rich, like a venture capitalist. The more glad-handers you have, the more venues you’ll be able to talk your way into.

See you at SXSW 2015!

Rafe Needleman can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter at @rafe​.