Tech and Politics’ Relationship Takes the Stage at SXSW
by Alex Slater
by Alex Slater
Every March, for ten days, “big tech” and “bigger media” companies descend on Austin, Texas, for the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. This “democratized ideas festival” grew from a small music gathering to a must-attend, can’t-miss lovefest where important ideas mix in with the fun.
At a festival traditionally dominated by creative titans of film, media and tech, the “political invasion” — as one disgruntled tech CEO called it — was inescapable. Politics are not new at SXSW, but the presence of political players continues to rise, year after year. Here are a few takeaways:
Changing the focus: Innovators get the most attention, regardless of their field. This year, creatives in music, film, and tech, who have dominated SXSW for decades, were sometimes overshadowed by politicians.
A Microphone for All: POLITICO Playbook hosted a conversation and panel series at The Experience by Dell and CNN hosted a live presidential town hall on Sunday night, providing a microphone to every 2020 contender.
Dwelling on 2018: From the historical election of women into the House of Representatives to the electoral lessons of the 2018 midterms, it was clear that we aren’t done unpacking the events of November and what they mean for the future of American politics.
Too Big to Fight: Part of the political blitz at SXSW related to calls for regulation (and even antitrust investigations) of Big Tech companies, all of whom have long participated in the festival.
Politics, whether we like it or not, is now a core part of SXSW’s DNA; it is a natural extension of the festival. Like tech, media and film before it, politics isn’t going anywhere. The best thing future attendees, thought-leaders, and businesses can do is recognize and embrace it.
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