It’s Always Sunny in Austin

South By Southwest – the annual interactive, film, and music conference in Austin, TX – happens right at the time of year when we’re ready for a change. The gray days of winter have (over)run their course, and our brains are in need of fresh ideas.

Change is certainly in the air at this year’s event. From the new conference layout, deeper immersion into the city of Austin itself via sessions at venues beyond the convention center, to the “crossover sessions” – panels that combine topics and speakers from all three verticals – interactive, film and music. That itself is a commentary on the state of media and technology, if ever there was one.

This is the reason that Doug Rushkoff is the perfect opening speaker. His recent PBS documentary takes a look at how technology is impacting our culture, from schoolkids to business executives; and there’s no better place to get a feel for what’s coming than SXSW.

Rushkoff was an early Internet advocate, but has become more circumspect in recent years as Web technologies have been commercialized. “We don’t fully understand how out technologies work on us,” he said. “If you are not a programmer, you are one of the programmed.”

In every sense, SXSW is about how to be a programmer.

Stay tuned for more reports.