id=”article-body” class=”row” section=”article-body”> Elon Musk dropped in on SXSW 2018.
FilmMagic/Getty Try as you might, SXSW is too big to see at once.
It’s like standing at the foot of a skyscraper and craning your neck to see the top. You just can’t.
The South by Southwest Conference and Festivals, as the event is now called (SXSW for short), has been around since the late 1980s. Last year’s show drew more than 70,000 people to Austin, Texas, over the course of roughly a week to attend more than 2,000 conference sessions. Along the way, they heard more than 5,000 speakers and hit up more than a thousand official parties and events.
Over the years, the conference has grown to encompass music, film, tech and more. It blew up into a cultural event attracting people who want to be where the buzz is. Companies like Twitter and Foursquare and the once-hot live-streaming platform Meerkat launched from SXSW once upon a time.
I sure tried to see it all. Or at least, as much as possible. Over the last few days I sprinted around the SXSW Interactive portion of the event, with a few dips into SXSW Film to catch the techiest, geekiest and cheesiest stuff (literally) I could find. Along the way, I consumed 10 tacos, rocked at least five wristbands and shot nearly 9 gigabytes of photos and video.
At SXSW, whatever you’re looking for, chances are, there’s plenty of it. From “Star Wars” to the real stars above us, here are five things I learned from SXSW 2018.
SXSW packs in surprises
I spent hours combing through the endless and dense SXSW online conference schedule, only to have it mostly shot to pieces by some cool, yet disruptive, last-minute announcements.
But there wasn’t any real cause to weep over my spreadsheets. This year, SXSW got surprise two-day visits from Elon Musk and Mark Hamill, as well as the world premiere of “Ready Player One.”
Now, there were definitely rumors these things might happen. In Musk’s case, he straight up tweeted he’d be coming to SXSW to join friends and “Westworld” creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan to show off a video clip they made of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch and Tesla-driving dummy Starman. But he didn’t exactly give times and room numbers.
So, it was up to SXSW-goers to speculate, make some calculated bets and keep their eyes peeled. Would Musk crash the “Westworld” panel on Saturday? You bet he did.
Hamill made several appearances tied to the debut of “The Director and the Jedi,” a documentary about the making of “The Last Jedi.” One daily email from SXSW mentioned that a session where director Rian Johnson was slated to speak would include a “very special guest.”
Gee. Wonder who that could be.