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Do’s and don’ts in Austin: why the internet loves to hate SXSW

Driving into Austin feels like entering an episode of Portlandia. I’ve been told the place is overrun by hipsters but didn’t think it could outdo Portland. “Austin has way too many young, white and myopic hipsters for my taste,” says a dear friend and resident of the city. Now consider that this is an opinion of the city in its quiet months, which makes the arrival of 30 000+ people for a “five day flurry of buzzwords and gamification” in Austin that much more Portland/hipster/tweetworthy.

SXSW (or simply “South By”) is an indaba of creatives: musicians, filmmakers and geeks get together to discuss the latest trends in three different conference tracks. It’s the festival and conference where Foursquare was launched, the homeless became Wifi hotspots and eating tacos can increase your geek factor. On some days the Music, Film and Interactive tracks “converge” offering those with badges for only one of the three tracks the chance to explore the weird and wonderful world of another industry they know nothing of.

And since social media has become ubiquitous with any form of conferencing, it is understandable that people get annoyed when a wide variety of your Twitter followers (from film stars to startup founders to musicians) end up tweeting random quotes from some talk they’re attending followed by an even more bizarre hashtag that requires a “you had to be there” explanation.

That’s why new SXSW newbies (like myself) actually need to be told what the do’s and don’ts are before broadcasting their thoughts around the festival. Tech magazine Fast Company thus produced this public service video specifically with this in mind:

A few years back this kind of social media chatter led to the (now infamous) #FakeSXSW meme. The meme became so popular that the creator of it ended up being invited to the actual conference to teach newbies how not to be a douchebag. Part jealousy, part frustration, Twitter users who still can’t make it continue making fun of all SXSW aspects like its secret parties, weird hashtags and panel titles.

Because you’ll find a panel during this year’s conference titled Hamburger Helper Is My Bae: Weird Brand Twitter there’s an appropriate way to make fun of the way SXSW describe panels. A #FakeSXSW panel generator will give you an idea of what goes into generating “pick me” titles as attendees browse through the “Super Grid” of endless events. Whether you’re in Austin this week or not: go ahead and create your own “Tinder of panels, Uber of keynote speeches or Yik Yak of Winklevoss twins” here and come back throughout the week as Memeburn covers SXSW Interactive 2015 — without making you feel bad for not being here. Promise.

Author | André-Pierre du Plessis

André-Pierre du Plessis
From a very young age, AP du Plessis has had an unhealthy obsession with Lego. Trumping Mattel to become the world's top toy maker, Lego has made it particularly difficult for him to quit bricks. AP worked at Bloomberg, Media24 and eNCA before joining Memeburn as managing editor. More