Track This: 8 SXSW PanelPicker Trends
The PanelPicker interface contributes about 75% of the Conference programming for March Magic in Austin. This interface also serves as a snapshot in time of what is popular with the global SXSW community. Earlier this week, we explored some of the most frequently used words and terms in this year’s PanelPicker, including “share,” “creativity,” and “data.”
Equally fascinating is comparing which of the 25 tracks at SXSW have increased and diminished in popularity (as measured by the total number of speaking proposals submitted) versus what was received in this interface year ago. Some of the most intriguing track-related numbers in the 2018 PanelPicker are as follows:
- A year ago, the “Government” track received 77 total entries. This year, that figure more than doubled to 175. A lot of this increase can probably be attributed to the large mayoral presence at SXSW 2017 — a presence that should continue to grow at the 2018 event.
- In 2017, there were 108 speaking proposals entered for the “Workplace” track. For 2018, that number jumped to 388. Clearly, issues like diversity and company culture have become a very strong point of concern for the worldwide SXSW community.
- A new track for SXSW 2017 was “Journalism,” which gained 71 entries last year. For 2018, we adjusted the track title to “News and Journalism” and the number of entries grew to 101. Not too surprising a development giving the current challenges within this industry.
- Last year was the first year we had a code-related track at SXSW (titled “Development & Code”). For 2018, the name has been tweaked to “Code & Programming” and the number of proposals have risen significantly: 109 to 66.
- Over the years, a recurrent theme at SXSW has been the importance of design. Most recently, the exploration of this topic has been led by Jon Maeda and other top industry leaders. “Design” looks to be stronger than ever at the 2018 event, with 285 entries in this track (more than double the 112 received 12 months ago).
- “Health & Wellness” programming has become increasing popular at SXSW — indeed, two of the biggest speakers at the 2017 event (Joe Biden and Jennifer Doudna) were part of this track. For 2018, the number of speaking proposals in this track almost tripled (338 versus 122).
- The “Intelligent Future” track at SXSW is what attracts most of the speaking proposals focused on artificial intelligence, automated technologies, plus other next-generation concepts. This track saw a huge bump in 2018 as compared to 2017: 471 to 130.
- The biggest winner in the 2018 PanelPicker is “Brands & Marketing,” which received 731 entries (versus 146 a year ago). Although some of this growth is certainly attributable to user error, as this track is the first one listed in the alphabetical drop down entry menu for this interface.
Explore your own trends in the 2018 SXSW PanelPicker by playing with the search button at the upper left side of this interface. Vote for the proposals that you like the most — and please also contribute to the comment section of the ideas that resonate the strongest with you. But don’t delay because this interface closes at the end of day on August 25.
Also, register now for March Magic in Austin to get the lowest badge rates and the best selection on downtown hotels.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and various current events.