No surprise: SXSW 2021 will be virtual. Vote for these Philly panels to be featured

Proposed conference sessions include improving civil discourse through tech, adapting to the pandemic and future of work, and how orgs teaching tech have remained crucial during this time.

Panelists inside the Amplify Philly House at the March 2019 SXSW. (Courtesy photo)

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 —

  • 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.

Community voting is open through Friday, and can be done through the Panel Picker.

Companies: Philly Tech Sistas / Think Company / Chariot Solutions / Comcast / Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia / SXSW / TechGirlz
People: David Cohen / David Dylan Thomas / Rob Wonderling / Tracey Welson-Rossman
Projects: Amplify Philly

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