03/08/2012 06:11 pm ET Updated May 08, 2012

A Political Guide to SXSW Interactive

Growing up in Austin, I remember the earlier days of what is now the film/interactive/music extravaganza known as SXSW. That was a time in which the internet barely existed, let alone this four day pilgrimage to the Lone Star State in its honor. Music was the main, almost solo, act then -- a week full of round-the-clock concerts that took place within the intimate four walls of year-round establishments. It was manageable, navigable, of the highest quality, and utterly fantastic.

Now? Interactive is a roaring beast unto itself; a completely out-of-control, labyrinthine explosion of quality that is nonetheless still, utterly, fantastic! But with 20,000 people descending upon this small city, it can also be overwhelming. Yes, that is the line for the afternoon keynote snaking up three floors and around a whole city block. And no, it is not actually possible to transport yourself between the Convention Center and the AT&T Conference Center in the allotted half hour transition between sessions. So taking full advantage of the hefty badge fare is best exercised with a bit of advance planning.

I put my schedule together today, and for those interested in having a gander at the official offerings in political tech, I've included a shortlist below, with a caveat. These venues of instruction are but a thin slice of the buffet that is this conference, which includes meetups, mentoring, pitches, parties, the startup village and the convention floor showcase, to say nothing of the world of unofficial gatherings. So, far beyond my few selections, I most strongly encourage you to 1. Eat, 2. Drink 3. Talk to strangers, and generally stay out late, sleep in, fall in love with Austin and have a blast interacting at SXSW interactive.

Friday, March 9

Political Humor 2.0: Teh Internetz R Leaking
Speakers: Alf LaMont, The Comedy Store; Carol Hartsell, The Huffington Post; Greg Proops,; Rory Albanese, The Daily Show with John Stewart; Sara Benincasa, Author/Blogger/Comedian
Logistics: 3:30pm - 4:30pm, Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB
Hashtags: #sxsw #PoliHum

Sunday, March 11

Big Data: Powering the Race for the White House
Speakers: Alex Lundry, TargetPoint Consulting; Dan Siroker, Optimizely; Josh Hendler, Hill+Knowlton Strategies; Kristen Soltis, The Winston Group; Patrick Ruffini, Engage
Logistics: 9:30am - 10:30am, Hilton Garden Inn, Rio Grande
Hashtags: #sxsw #data2012

Socializing the Presidency: Digital Politics 2012
Speakers: Christina Bellantoni, PBS NewsHour; Craig Newmark, Craigslist; Heather Smith, Rock the Vote; Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino; Mary Katherine Ham, Fox News Contributor
Logistics: 9:30am - 10:30am, AT&T Conference Hotel, Salon B
Hashtags: #sxsw #SocialPres

But Hasn't Politics Always Been Social?
Speakers: Adam Conner, Facebook; Katie Harbath, Facebook
Logistics: 12:30pm - 1:30pm, AT&T Conference Hotel, Salon B
Hashtags: #sxsw #FBPolitics

Isn't It Time for an Online Presidential Primary?
Speakers: Joshua Levine, Americans Elect; Kahlil Byrd, Americans Elect
Logistics: 3:30pm - 4:30pm, AT&T Conference Hotel, Salon A
Hashtags: #sxsw #OnlinePrim

Monday, March 12

Can Bloggers Put Hope Back into the 2012 Election?
Speakers: Biko Baker, League of Young Voters; Chloe Hilliard,; Erica Williams, Citizen Engagement Lab; Quentin James, Sierra Student Coalition; Rashad Robinson, Color of Change
Logistics: 9:30am - 10:30am, AT&T Conference Hotel, Salon B
Hashtags: #sxsw #VoteSocial

Voting's Viral: Voters, Election Officials & Social
Speakers: Dana Chisnell, UsabilityWorks; Dean Logan, Los Angeles County; Jared Marcotte, New Organizing Institute; Lee Rainie, PEW Research Center
Logistics: 9:30am - 10:30am, AT&T Conference Hotel, Salon A
Hashtags: #sxsw #viralvote

How Social Media Imperils Political Parties
Speakers: Joe Trippi, Joe Trippi & Associates; Marci Harris, PopVox; Mark McKinnon, Hill+Knowlton Strategies; Matt Bai, New York Times; Nathan Daschle,
Logistics: 11:00am - 12:00pm, AT&T Conference Hotel, Salon A
Hashtags: #sxsw #ruckus

Why Hasn't the Internet Made Voting Awesome?
Speakers: Paul Schreiber, TurboVote; Seth Flaxman, TurboVote
Logistics: 12:30pm - 1:30pm, AT&T Conference Hotel, Salon A
Hashtags: #sxsw #turbovote

Tuesday, March 13

Coding the Next Chapter of American History
Speaker: Jen Pahlka, Code for America
Logistics: 2:00pm - 3:00pm, Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D
Hashtags: #sxsw #JPahlka