At the beginning of the pandemic, South by Southwest — Austin’s international music, art, tech and culture conference traditionally held each spring — was one of the first major events to be canceled or relegated to a virtual experience.
And at this time of year, conference prep would normally be rearing up with travel and events planning. But as expected, the 2021 edition will officially be held remotely March 16 through 20.
While gathering in person is ideal, there’s much to be gained by remote access, as we’ve heard and experienced in the past nine months of the pandemic; consider accessibility, creativity and ease of attendance for faraway guests. One example of making the best of a necessary pivot was in the summer-long series from Amplify Philly, the group that typically pops up Philly-focused programming at the IRL SXSW conference. The series featured virtual conversations, music and activities touching on science, tech and the entrepreneurship community here. (Amplify’s Dave Silver said there’s nothing specific planned for this year’s series so far.)
And that thought process brings us to the Philadelphians proposing talks and panels for SXSW’s virtual experience this coming spring. The SXSW Panel Picker, which has been around since 2007, gives attendees a say in shaping the event’s programming. All this week through Friday, Nov. 20, the public can vote for proposed sessions.
Here are the panels we’ve heard about from Philly folks (and hey, tell us if you know if others — email@example.com):
- TechGirlz, in partnership with Black Girls Code, Girls on the Run, and Philly Tech Sistas, submitted a session to both SXSW and SXSWEdu on “revelations from our pandemic pivots,” including lessons on how to comply with COVID-19 lockdown and distancing protocols when direct, in-person interaction between students, instructors and mentors is the backbone of your organization’s mission.
- Think Company’s David Dylan Thomas has proposed a talk on “content strategy hacks to save civil discourse,” looking at real-world examples of how the way we phrase a question or design an interaction (or even the objects in a room) can have a huge impact on the quality of conversation. Plus, learn the three rules you can use to change course from a fight to a constructive exchange.
- “Philadelphia faces the future of workers, together,” on how technology and the pandemic are rapidly reshaping life and work, would feature Anne Gemmell, the founder of the Future Works Strategy; Tracey Welson-Rossman, CMO of Chariot Solutions; Dalila Wilson-Scott, EVP and chief diversity officer of Comcast; and Ezequiel Minaya, editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer. The group will look at how the region can retrain existing workers and bring historically disadvantaged people into the new economy, and how we can realistically connect displaced talent to work of the future.
- “Recharge & Recovery: Philly’s response to COVID-19” would look at the deep ripple effects that the pandemic has had in Philadelphia, and the Recharge and Recovery task force that’s been assembled to reenergize the economy. Osagie Imasogie, cofounder and senior managing partner of PIPV Capital; Rob Wonderling, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia; Susan Jacobson, president and CEO of Jacobson Strategic Communications; and David Cohen, SEVP of Comcast, are proposed to speak.
Community voting is open through Friday, and can be done through the Panel Picker.