Christine de la Huerta|Mar 5, 2012

Digital Park will be reporting live from SXSW Interactive for local media and through rbb’s blog at Today’s article explains why this event is so important nationally and to South Florida. A version of this post appears in The Miami Herald.

Later this week, the biggest and brightest minds of the online world will gather in Austin, Texas, to talk up the latest and greatest in social media, technology and everything wired. The interactive conference at South By South West – better known as SXSW – is billed as “an incubator of cutting-edge technologies,” featuring five days of compelling presentations and networking events with industry leaders in emerging technology. Innovators, tech start ups, social media gurus and Fortune 500 companies alike can appreciate the magnitude of this event.

If your eyes are glossing over right now and you’re thinking, “South by South What?” you need to keep reading. Social media, video games, online apps, mobile tech – this is where the future unfolds for online business, finance and technology, today.

From hands-on training to big-picture analysis of what’s to come, SXSW has become the “not-to-be-missed” event for more than 20,000 attendees to preview promising new developments in the digital space. To give you a little perspective, Twitter was practically launched at SXSW in 2007. The 2009 SXSW Interactive saw the launch of Foursquare.

Makes you wonder, what’s in store for 2012?

No less than 30,000 South Floridians employed in the tech field are wondering, too. Many of our local digital media professionals and enthusiasts will themselves be making their annual pilgrimage the conference. Local business people such as J. Ricky Arriola, president and CEO of Inktel Contact Center Solutions in Miami Lakes, who says SXSW is the “Super Bowl” for digital types. “It is perhaps the largest concentration of industry players in the country.”

Why is it important to be there?

The opportunities to learn and make business connections at SXSW are endless, says Aubrey Swanson, social media coordinator at Kaufman, Rossin & Co. in Miami. “My world of social media evolves and changes every single day. SXSW exposes me to the forefront of social media and technology – preparing me for what’s to come in these ever-growing industries.”

Day and night throughout SXSW, there are expert sessions, panel discussions and keynotes covering everything from ads in the age of personal data to technology’s effect on niche marketing. “The sessions help confirm my current strategies and ideas, teach and prepare me for what the future holds, and inspire me with creative new ideas to implement once I return to Miami,” Swanson says. After-hours networking events are just as important. According to Swanson, who is attending for her second year, the networking opportunities at SXSW are “priceless.”

Our teen years

Florida is shaping up to be quite a Mecca of tech expertise. With a few years under our belts already, we have a wide array of talents and a bright future. Victoria Edwards, marketing manager of Guidewell (based in Tampa) is also attending SXSW. She points to Wikipedia and Wufoo (which was acquired by SurveyMonkey) as early home-grown success stories, not to mention events such as BarCamp and HealthCamp making a home in Florida, proving that the industry has interest in and “sees the talent in the Sunshine State when it relates to social media and tech in general.”

Until a comparable SX Something comes to Miami

If you are among those who tweet and tumble from the 305 but are staying Southeast during SXSW, there are a number of ways to get looped in to the event, which runs March 9-13:

  • (this blog) is here to be your portal to SXSW. We will hit the keynotes and sessions, talk to the experts and listen with a South Florida ear to the issues and trends in the global digital marketplace. Our observations, commentary, highlights and takeaways will be posted daily.
  • Check out the conference rundown. Tell us which issues you feel are most important to the South Florida economy.
  • Attend the SXSFL Tweet-up at The Stage Miami, 130 NE 38th St. in the Design District, from 6 till 9 p.m. on March 6, co-sponsored by rbb Public Relations and Social Media Club of South Florida. RSVP here.
  • Follow the live coverage on Twitter at #SXSFL and #SXSW.

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