15 SXSW Interactive Panels You Should Know

Unpacking Gender: Men, Women, Technology and More
This might seem like a dry or academic topic, but materials scientist Debbie Chachra and writer Quinn Norton both have really interesting things to say about, well, everything. Remember that Norton wrote this mindblowing feature about people who have illegal surgery (!) to install rare earth magnets into their fingers(!), so that they can feel magnetic fields(!).

Who Are You and Why Should We Care
A presentation on the value of authenticity online, the real draw is the excellent panel including the likes AllThingsD's Kara Swisher and Fast Company's Ellen McGirt.

Predictions and the News: Getting the Future Right
NPR's Matt Thompson's presentation on the future of predictions in journalism sounds deep.
"The most important decisions we make as a society are based on claims about the future," he notes, yet rarely does this futurology get assessed. He's going to offer new approaches to peering into the future in news stories.

Offline America, Why We Have A Digital Divide
Librarian Jessamyn West will look at why 22 percent of Americans aren't online. I, for one, have a hard time imagining that state, and it's not all explained by age and socioeconomic circumstances. Expect a deeper dive than you signed up for. "There is a complex combination of emotional, political and logistical reasons why 35% of Americans have no broadband at home and why 22% do not use the internet at all. We can't start solving the problem until we understand it." 

Caring For Your Online Introvert
Joanne McNeil's essay about what it's like to be an introvert online has bounced around the Internet for months (and was inspired by a 2003 Atlantic article). There's something about it that connected with people. Reading it again, I was struck by how precisely she sketched the feelings that always-on Internetting brings out in us. Should be a great talk.

Hacking the News: Applying Computer Science to Journalism
Burt Herman's Hacks and Hackers is one of San Francisco's most interesting series of events. It brings together people skilled at writing with those well-versed in code so they can learn from each other. Bringing this idea to SXSW seems like a no-brainer.

And finally, allow me to plug my own possible contributions:

The Magazine Formerly Known As 48 Hour
Right before I started at The Atlantic, I co-founded a sporadic magazine (with Mat Honan and Sarah Rich) on the premise that you could solicit submissions, edit, illustrate, and publish a gorgeous paper text in 48 hours. It worked! Mostly. (Enough to win a Knight Batten Special Distinction Award for innovation.) In this presentation, we'd show you how we did it, including our workflow and coffee consumption tips.

How Internet Media is Shaping the Greentech Revolution
Organized by GigaOm's Katie Fehrenbacher, who covers green tech startups better than anyone, this is a heavy-hitting panel. New York Times regular Todd Woody, Grist senior staff writer Dave Roberts, and I will talk about how digital media can be a hidden lever in transforming our energy system.


Image: Torchy's Tacos, quite possibly the best place on Earth. Did you know that they fry avocados in Texas? They do! And they are delicious. flickr/MikeLewis
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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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