SXSW: March 12 2017

The rain stopped for the third day of SXSW, but the weather was decidedly cooler. Due to Daylight Savings Time last night, I slept in a little bit and missed getting a wristband to hear former Vice President Joe Biden. Instead, I went to two movies (compared to Bill’s four), two Interactive sessions, and explored SXSW outside of the Convention Center.

Covering POTUS: A Conversation with the Failing NYT
New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet was interviewed by his Media Columnist, Jim Rutenberg, who started with the question: Are we really the enemy of the people? Baquet answered, “Of course not, we have a role in society to ask questions of the President. But it was disturbing when I saw it (that tweet) and jarring.” He noted that his direction to the newsroom is to cover the tweets and also to cover Trump. Baquet feels that it’s more important to cover falsehoods and say that they are false rather than not cover them at all. He noted that the newspaper doesn’t use the word “lie” unless a falsehood is long-standing and has malicious intent. Baquet said he received more pressure from the Clinton and Sanders campaigns than from the Trump campaign. Baquet believes the next two years will be historic and has been hiring staff. Rutenberg joked that every time Trump says “you are the enemy,” new subscriptions go up. Baquet observed that this election forced clarity to the Times’ mission: aggressive coverage of the government. Both men agreed that the Times misread how much anger and desire for change there was in the country.

Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched

Back in 2012, five of the Muppet puppeteers got together to reminisce about this work and leader Jim Henson. This discussion—along with some clips—eventually turned into this movie. The screening was followed by a Q&A led by director Robert Rodriguez. Four of the five puppeteers (plus the producer) came up on stage, including Frank Oz. (One man had died since the filming.) All talked about how much they loved Jim Henson. Developed their characters as they went along and provided feedback to each other. I’m not why this movie was called “Muppet Guys…” since one was a women. But no one asked this question.

Jessica Shorthall
Jessica Shorthall was today’s Keynote Speaker. She is managing director of Texas Competes, a coalition of state businesses to ensure our state is welcoming to LGBTQ people. She noted that 24 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed in this year’s Texas legislative session, but none has come up for a vote yet. She described herself as a bridge-builder. She noted that 41% of trans people have attempted suicide as opposed to 1.6% of the general population. She received a standing ovation—the first one that I’ve seen so far this week.

Many, many companies have “a presence” at this conference, with free food and swag. Today my visits included: Spectrum (tacos), Pinterest House (Salt Lick barbecue), Sony (t-shirt), Pure Leaf Tea (samples), Naked Juice (more samples), Maple (cotton candy), Washington DC (snacks), and M&M/Mars (popcorn).

The Trade Show is one of my favorite parts of SXSW. So. Much. To. See.

Bill Nye: Science Guy
This documentary covered Bill Nye’s career, his current passions/causes, and even his personal life. Nye was seated in the audience and said that he had not seen it before. The audience gave him a standing ovation when the film ended. He then joined the directors and producers on stage for Q&A. Nye is clearly a hero and inspiration to science teachers. In answer to a question about teaching future scientists, he noted that the challenge will be how to filter information, not to teach people facts.

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